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A Blended Family – by Sandi Patty

Sandi PattyStepparent/stepchild relationships are unique.

Are you part of a blended family? Do you know someone who is?

Sandi Patty and her husband have eight “yours, mine, and ours” children in their blended family. They quickly learned the family dynamic wasn’t going to work quite the way they thought it would.

Click the play button below (far right) to hear insight from Sandi’s experience in this audio message:

Comments

  1. 3 years ago
    Jodie says

    Smart Stepfamilies book and class have been so helpful to me! The author is Ron Deal. He also has a page on Facebook.

  2. 3 years ago
    Jeannie Lopez-Smith says

    I have had a blended fam for 9 yrs and currently we are separated due to step parent/step child not respecting or getting alone…PLEASE address blended families at next WOF in Washinton, D.C. where I attend every year. I am trying to save my marriage. PLEASE pray for us.
    Thanks,
    Jeannie

  3. 3 years ago
    Sue says

    God’s timely is so perfect. While we have struggled for peace with the other adults in our blended family, we know, for certain, that the children are carrying the deepest scars. As stepmother of three boys, I feel positioned to be the bridge between my husband and his ex, though not exactly sure how to fill that role the way God would have me fill it. I do know, for sure, that God is about restoration of relationships and while it would definitely be easier if their mom would stop throwing the rocks(!)-we are still required to work for peace. We sincerely want that; and seek guidance to help us work toward a friendly, cooperative relationship where everyone is valued and allowed to love.

  4. 3 years ago
    Janae says

    I would love to have some teaching-direction on how to live as the step mom and step daughter in blended families. I have been part of both for the last13 yr.’s and it is not fun–. I’m so grateful I have Jesus- there are more days than I can count that He has helped me not pick up offense and I refuse ( by grace) not to live in the darkness of unforgiveness.

  5. 3 years ago
    Michele says

    I am very excited to see this posted by Sandy. I have lived in a blended family since I was 17yrs old due to my mom passing away. Yes it has not been easy but I also didn’t want my Dad to be by himself for the rest of his life. My mom was 39 when she passed away. Now I am faced with the same situation for my life. My husband passed away when he was 36. I hope not be alone for the rest of my life…..it gets very lonely. Unfortunatley there are not alot of men out in the world that are without a wife and/or kids around the age of 40. God has a plan and I will for it to be revealed to me.

    • 3 years ago
      Kelli says

      When God is involved it doesn’t matter your age if it is God’s Plan for you to meet someone else. My husband passed away when he was 31 and I was 34 and our son was 2-1/2. I was feeling the way that you do wondering if I would ever meet someone special again in my life. God brought a great guy into my life 5-1/2 years after my husband passed away and we married 1-1/2 years later. We will be celebrating our 3 year anniversary in a few months. The hard part is patience because it all happens in God’s time, not yours. Sandi’s book was very helpful for the blended family as my son now has 3 step brothers, so we are now a part of a blended family.

  6. …………..
    As a step and biological Mom, and the author of a book on stepfamilies which included not only my own experience but research with stepfamily authorities and other stepfamilies, I am aware, all to often, of the high rate of divorce among these families.

    One reason is that there are no understood guidelines for these families. Society tends to apply the rules of first marriages, while ignoring the complexities of stepfamilies.

    A little clarification: In stepfamilies the child(ren) is of one co-parent; in a blended families, there are children from both co-parents, and virtually all family members have recently experienced a primary relationship loss.

    The Landmines

    Three potential problem areas are: Financial burdens, Role ambiguity, and the Children’s Negative Feelings when they don’t want the new family to “work.”

    Husbands sometimes feel caught between the often impossible demands of their former family and their present one. Some second wives also feel resentful about the amount of income that goes to the husband’s first wife and family.

    Legally, the stepparent has no prescribed rights or duties, which may result in tension, compromise, and role ambiguity.

    Another complication of role ambiguity is that society seems to expect acquired parents and children to instantly love each other. In reality, this is often just not the case.

    The third reason for a difficult stepparent-child relationship might be that a child does not want this marriage to work, and so, acts out with hostility, since children commonly harbor fantasies that their biological parents will reunite. Stepchildren can prove hostile adversaries, and this is especially true for adolescents.

    Stepmother Anxiety

    Clinicians say that the role of stepmother is more difficult than that of stepfather, because stepmother families may more often be born of difficult custody battles and/or particularly troubled family relations. Society is also contradictory in expecting loving relationships between stepmothers and children while, at the same time, portraying stepmothers as cruel and even abusive (Snow White, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel are just a few bedtimestories we are all familiar with).

    Stepfather Anxiety

    Men who marry women with children come to their new responsibilities with a mixed bag of emotions, far different from those that make a man assume responsibility for his biological children. A new husband might react to an “instant” family with feelings which range from admiration to fright to contempt.

    The hidden agenda is one of the first difficulties a stepfather runs into: The mother or her children, or both, may have expectations about what he will do, but may not give him a clear picture of what those expectations are. The husband may also have a hidden agenda.

    A part of the stepchildren’s hidden agenda is the extent to which they will let the husband play father.

    The key is for everyone to work together.

    The husband, wife, their stepchildren, and their non-custodial biological parent can all negotiate new ways of doing things by taking to heart and incorporating the information you are about to learn—the most positive alternative for everyone.

    One Day at a Time

    Now you have a pretty good feel for what everyone is going through. How do you start to make it better — a process that can take years? First you must be very clear about what you want and expect from this marriage and the individuals involved, including yourself. What are you willing to do? In a loving and positive way, now is the time to articulate, negotiate, and come to an agreement on your expectations and about how you and your partner will behave.

    The best marriages are flexible marriages, but how can you be flexible if you do not know what everyone needs right now. And, this may change over time, so there must be room for that to happen as well.

    In flexible marriages partners are freer to reveal the parts of their changing selves that no longer fit into their old established patterns. You couldn’t possibly have known at the beginning of your new family what you know now and will learn later.

    Spouses may feel the “conflict taboo” even more than in a first marriage. It is understandable that you want to make this marriage work. You might feel too “battle-scarred” to open “a can of worms.” And so, you gloss over differences that need airing and resolution—differences over which you may not have hesitated to wage war in your first marriage. Avoiding airing your differences is a serious mistake. It is important for you to understand your own and your partner’s needs because society hasn’t a clue how stepfamilies should work. Unless you talk about your expectations, they are likely to be unrealistic.

    Living Well

    Since roughly one third of stepfamilies do survive—even thrive—we know that stepfamilies can grow the safety, support, and comfort that only healthy families provide. Consider the following for living your step/blended family life well:

    You must assess, as a couple, how well you accept and resolve conflicts with each other and key others. Learn and steadily work to develop verbal skills: listen with empathy, effectively show your needs, and problem-solve together. The emotional highs of new love can disguise deep disagreement on parenting, money, family priorities, and home management, i.e., values that will surface after the wedding.

    Together, accept your prospective identity as a normal, unique, multi-home stepfamily. You need to admit and resolve strong disagreements, well enough for positive results.

    You must balance and co-manage all of these tasks well enough on a daily basis to: build a solid, high-priority marriage; enjoy your kids; and, to keep growing emotionally and spiritually as individual people.

    Know and take comfort in the fact that confidant stepfamily adult teams (not simply couples), can provide the warmth, comfort, inspiration, support, security—and often (not always) the love—that adults and kids long for.

    Gloria Lintermans is the author of THE SECRETS TO STEPFAMILY SUCCESS: Revolutionary Tools to Create a Blended Family of Support and Respect, Llumina Press, 2011

  7. 3 years ago
    TJ says

    I also have a blended family. It has ben 7 years and it is still hard. I had 2 children who were in college and he had two at home 5 and 8. They live have always lived with us and visit with their mom everyother weekend.
    I have tried eveything and so has my husband. They had been divorced 3 years when we met but she still blames me.
    She will do everything in her power to turn the kids against me.
    I am still being kind and not saying anything but I can say it is hard.
    The children are not allowed to be disrespectful and are great children, now 12 and 15.
    She manipulates the poor children. THe oldest is a girl and is always afaid her bio mom will leave again and will do anything even lie to ge what she thinks her bio mom wants and needs.
    We do go to a christian counselor and pray “A LOT”
    but at times it is very hurtrul to see how it plays out for her sometimes
    Any advice ??

  8. 3 years ago
    Judy says

    I am thankful that Sandy broached the subject of Step parenting, because while I am not re-married, the possibility does exist that in the future, I will be a step parent. I had not considered my role as being a difficult one. Now that I have been alerted to this situation, I will look into more books and advise on step parenting, so that I might be at least a little more prepared than I am now.

  9. Wow a bit harsh RG What happened to christian love and understanding. He who is without sin… We are the grandparents of a blended family, we didn’t choose but we are trying to show that love transcends the pettiness. Till it happens to you, it is easy to judge. Thanks Sandi for your honesty, it is refreshing in these times to hear honest comments

  10. 3 years ago
    Dawn says

    I also agree that it would be so helpful to hear more about blended families as a Christian. The reality is that there are a lot of people getting divorced these days, Christian and non alike. There are people who divorce, then find Christ later on too. I’m a stepmother, and it is hard to be a part of a blended family situation when the other parent is always trying to undermine and divide. I pray that as they grow older, they will see the truth for what it is.

  11. 3 years ago
    Doreen Mugure Kirubi says

    Thanks for your mail.Surprisingly,i have just begun a blended relationship. My daughter is 6 years and my step daughter is 14years. We have a mature and amicable relationship.Here in my country Kenya it’s not the norm but times are changing.Am inspired by your quick response. God Bless you.

  12. 3 years ago
    R G says

    No longer a Sandi Patty fan.

  13. 3 years ago
    Ginny Thompson says

    I also have a blended family. We each had 3 kids when we married and then adopted 2. We now also have 10 grandchildren. Our 6 kids are grown and on their own. But the 2 we adopted are still at home. We try very hard to make time for all the kids and grandkids. We both work fulltime and have a hard time doing that. But God put us together and will see us through.

  14. 3 years ago
    Tami says

    I too live in a blended family environment. Having rules and expectations for your own kids and then the step kids do not have the same expectations and respect is very very difficult. I would love to read a book or listen to a cd that would have advise from Sandy! It is unlike anything I have had to face and wish that there was good advise and support for the families that are blended. I am so unsure of what my role is when I am so disappointed in the step children. With god I know we can make anything possible! I just keep believing!

  15. 3 years ago
    Cynthia says

    I agree that it can be very challenging to have a blended family, but it can be done. I also agree that there are so many misconceptions. You cannot even compare it to adoption, and so many people in the church try to say that its like adoption. The relationship between adoptive and blended family relationships are complete opposites. If only the church would do something to help these families. They are doing it on their own without any real support in the area. Let’s start praying and surely God will provide this group of families some specific support.

  16. 3 years ago
    Deborah says

    Blended families are not for the faint of heart and NO ONE should enter this kind of relationship without significant prayer and counseling beforehand. God did not design the blended family, and it is more work than you will ever take on in any other part of your life.

    • 3 years ago
      Jocelyn says

      Deborah – thank you for your honest comment that going into a blended family is not for the faint of heart. My husband and I have a blended group of 8, all grown, five are mine and three are his, and now we have 11 grandchildren. The first three years were brutal to say the least, but thanks to Smart Stepfamilies and a loving step-family Bible study group, we have reached the promise land.

      This topic needs to be infused into every aspect of church, Christian seminars, women’s and men’s retreats, Christian counseling and every where else that God-loving but hurting husbands, wives and children go for Biblical guidance and help. It is ignored way too much.

      Thank you, Sandi Patty, for bringing it up finally. It needs to be declared from the roof tops – divorce can hurt, being a single parent can hurt even more, but being married a second time does NOT need to hurt! It needs to be rejoiced and honored so that it holds together through the storm. We have been married 17 years and it’s gloriously wonderful.

    • I am in a blended family but I have no children. I married a widower after dating for 8 years and became a step parent to 2 children who didn’t want me or a step mom. My now husband of almost 19 years + 8 years dating = 27 years together. We basically do not have a family. His children only communicate with him unless we are all present together I then communicate with them but I’ve tried phone calls and tried to make plans together but we meet and they never reciprocated. It only happens if I make it happen. I’m tired of the relationship being one sided and I know as a Christian I should over look this but it is very hard. I really liked what Deborah said “God did not design the blended family, and it is more work than you will ever take on in any other part of your life.” This is so TRUE. They were 8yrs and 5yrs when I came into their lives. We did have counseling when they were young. It didn’t help because as they got older things grew harder because they were allowed to ignore me and my discipline actions. I was not made aware of the fact my husband telling them to tell me what I wanted to hear and he didn’t realize it would be more of a problem for all of us down the long road. Yes we are still married and working on it daily.

  17. 3 years ago
    Cynthia Cox says

    I am really glad to see this subject on here, I come from a christian family and I raise my children in the best manner that I know how, by the leading of the Holy Spirit I have seen my children growing up to be fine young Christians, my husband who has not always been an active Christian is now very active and we include all the children we have in raising in them in church but only to attend church but to also understand that they can also have that intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior, it has worked for both his, mine and our chidren. we stand on the scripture that says as for me and my family we will serve the Lord.
    Thank you so much for all your great topics, this just really touched my heart today.

  18. As of 2004, it became clear that more families were step-families than nuclear families.. reportedly in the census, 1300 new step-families form every day. With these statistics, it would be accurate to say that 50% of women attending WOF conferences would be affected by or included in a step-family. I agree it should be addressed at all conferences because it affects so many. I am a step-mother from a previous marriage and my present marriage – have 9 step-grandchildren (including ones from previous marriage). Although I have been divorced from my ex-husband for almost 13 yrs, my “former” step-daughter and I are close and she frequently calls me to discuss issues in her life (although I am in PA and she’s in VA) and her children spend weekends with us on a regular basis. As with the earlier writer, they all know that I love them dearly – whatever my last name! It’s a fine line we walk as many times the birth mother disagrees with a style of parenting differing from theirs. I have also observed that if one family is following the world while the other is following Christ, there is an extra tug-of-war to pull the children into the world. Pray for us!

  19. 3 years ago
    Jane says

    I am a step=mother, a mother, and now a grand-mother. I married my husband when his two daughters were only 3 and 5. They spent the majority of the first 3 years of our marriage in another state with their maternal grandparents because she was too busy working and socializing to take care of them, even though she had custody. When they got ready to move to our area I helped find an apartment and daycare, and I was the one who picked them up every other Friday for the weekend visits. In the meantime, my husband and I had 2 children of our own. When the children were little, I treated them all the same, and it worked. As the girls got older, that became more difficult to do. I made sure they understood, however, that the rules in our house had not changed, even though the rules in their mother’s non-Christian home were much more lax. As time went on, both girls began to acknowledge that I had been more of a mom to them than their bio mom, and now that they are both grown, I’m the one they come to with problems and issues. Bottom line – they’ve always known I love them.

  20. Thank you for letting me see that on a different side of things. I really like the way you said it. Now how do I as the Mother of the three support the “Teacher” step-Mom? And not let her step on my toes…feel like I am not good enough. My X-husband left me for her..my kids always complain about step brother too! Their home is very different from my home life…Should that too be different? or should we try to make it the same??

  21. We are also a blended family, my 2 girls, his son and daugter and our son and daughter. It has not always been easy, but it is usually fun to get together now that everyone is grown.

  22. 3 years ago
    Deb says

    …………… I would love it if WoF would delve more into the blended family situation. It’s rarely talked about in Christian circles, church, etc. and if it is usually a negative connotation is attached. Especially difficult, the bio-mom vs. step mom (I am both). Why can’t we all get along? Help with this issue would be fantastic. Why must eyes roll and complaining begin when the 2nd wife or stepmom is mentioned? It would be great if peoples mind set was, “Now there is another person to help out, love the kids, and be invested in their future, and the more adults that have these kids backs in a healthy way the better!” We need to work on changing they way people think and respond regarding this situation, to one of working together for the greater good, getting along is the norm, not hating the ‘interloper’, and really putting the kids first.

    • 3 years ago
      Tondi Wheat says

      Totally agree with ‘Deb’. When I married my second husband, my daughter was 9 yrs. old. We tried to explain to her that he was not taking the place of her dad, but wanted to be a friend. However, her father was trying to divide the relationship with my husband and daughter as much as possible. I would love for more Christian psychologists to share what they believe a healthy blended family would look like. Need lot of help in this area. My husband and daughter have a better relationship now but it’s still strained at times.

    • 3 years ago
      Cynthia Cox says

      I totally agree with you in that we should get along, I am part of a blended family, and I just love all the children we have, I have mine, he has his, and we have ours and then we have 4 of my grandchildren that we just recently are getting full custody of because CPS has placed them with us. It is so important that when the other is mentioned whether it be a stepdad or mom those looks do not noticed because all we really do is hurt our children. The relationship that my ex-husband, his wife and the ex-wife of my husband is like no other relationship seen, and at times it very hard for people to understand why we all just love each other so much, my response because we Jesus loved us first, because our past is no longer remembered, because God is a God of restoration, because if we judge we are judging what the blood of christ did for us. I am glad to hear your comments and I truly encourage anyone who does happen to be in a blended family to please learn to share the love of God, we are trying to gain people to God’s kingdom not run them off.

  23. 3 years ago
    DG says

    25 years ago enterd a blended family situation…I try and encourage anyone I meet who is entering this situation with the truth and reality – the dynamics of the relationships, the history – there is so much involved. thanks for sharing on this topic.