BLENDED FAMILIES

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GOD'S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

It is known as the blended family… too often it is characterized by barriers rather than bonds. A mother or father again says “I do,” and children from previous marriages now living together under the same roof can wish their parent had said… “I don’t.” Challenges abound… sharing coveted space, submitting to new rules and values, struggling to sympathize with shortcomings… so that the blended family trying to follow a recipe for reconciliation might resemble more a concoction of contention.

Think about this, the push for perfection can put undue pressure on the wife or the husband in a blended family. You may think you have something to prove. Perhaps you feel that you must show your ability to hold a family together after divorce or after disunity in some in earlier relationships. With this added pressure there can be a tendency to shy away from problems, or just ignore them all together. You may want to project an image of perfection when instead there is an undercurrent of pain.

Perfection is not part of God’s plan for marriage or family. The perfect mate, the perfect parent, simply does not exist. Only by the power of the Spirit of God living in us can we practice unconditional love with His wisdom to resolve our problems. Isaiah 58 gives this promise, “The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” There’s peace in that kind of promise.

God has a heart… for the blended family. By the power of His Spirit He can break down walls and build lasting bonds, girded together by unconditional love.“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,  in order to bring praise to God.” 

Romans 15:7

 

What Is a Blended Family? 

Blended families, with their many challenges, have been around for a long time. They are formed for different reasons. When a spouse with children remarries after the death of a partner, the situation is difficult. But when the family unit becomes a blend of his children, her children, and their children, the recipe for success requires a great deal of understanding and forgiveness. 

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

(Colossians 3:13) 

  • The blended family is a family unit in which one or both of the spouses have been previously married and bring a child or children to the relationship. 
  • The word blended means “mixed together.” It suggests a combining of separate units into an integrated whole. 
  • The stepfamily is a family unit in which at least one spouse has a parental relationship with a child based on marriage, not blood.

 

Stages of Blended Family Adjustments

  • Fantasy Stage ... unrealistic expectations
    • The dream of gaining happiness and wholeness through a new marriage
    • The dream of marrying a model parent who will love my children
    • The dream that I will love my spouse’s children as my own
    • The dream that our love is enough to conquer all problems
  • Factual Stage ... reality sets in The dream of a unified family life is not reality. 
    • The children are mourning their lost parent and are not accepting the stepparent. 
    • The transition to a new family becomes more difficult than expected. 
    • The problems seem too difficult, accompanied by a strong temptation to give up. 
  • Fruitful Stage ... growth and maturity 
    • The realization that a blended family is not ideal; there will always be a unique set of family problems 
    • The realization that it is going to take the cooperation of both partners to overcome difficulties and make the marriage work 
    • The realization that it takes time, and it may be years before there are any signs of unity or smooth functioning relationships 
    • The realization that God will use this blended family as a source of spiritual growth, a means of healing the past and a demonstration of His unconditional love 

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” 

(Colossians 3:15)

What Is a Nuclear Family?

The nuclear family is a traditional family unit composed of ...

  • One husband and one wife
  • One marriage
  • One or more children from one union

A blended family is like a jagged jigsaw puzzle. If you force the pieces to fit, you destroy the potential design. If you wait for God to work it, the picture comes—in time. —June Hunt

 

Stages of Blended Family Adjustments 

  1.  Fantasy Stage...

unrealistic expectations The dream of gaining happiness and wholeness through a new marriage 

  • The dream of marrying a model parent who will love my children 
  • The dream that I will love my spouse’s children as my own 
  • The dream that our love is enough to conquer all problems 

2. Factual Stage ... 

reality sets in The dream of a unified family life is not reality. 

  • The children are mourning their lost parent and are not accepting the stepparent. 
  • The transition to a new family becomes more difficult than expected. 
  • The problems seem too difficult, accompanied by a strong temptation to give up. 

3. Fruitful Stage ... 

growth and maturity The realization that a blended family is not ideal; there will always be a unique set of family problems 

  • The realization that it is going to take the cooperation of both partners to overcome difficulties and make the marriage work 
  • The realization that it takes time, and it may be years before there are any signs of unity or smooth functioning relationships 
  • The realization that God will use this blended family as a source of spiritual growth, a means of healing the past and a demonstration of His unconditional love 

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” 

(Colossians 3:15) 

 

Preparing Children for Your Remarriage

  • Meet alone with your own children.
  • Communicate your unconditional love for them.
  • State your belief that remarriage is God’s direction for your life.
  • Share the positive future you see for them.
  • Encourage them to be open and to share their feelings.
  • Explain that the stepparent will not replace their natural parent.
  • Make your marriage commitment clear.
  • Ask for their help in this transition.
  • Communicate their secure position.
  • Let them know that Christ will be the center of their new family.

"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” 

(Proverbs 16:24)

 

The Shared Custody Shuffle 

If you share custody, it is important to remember to do the following when a child returns to your home: 

  • Stop what you are doing. 
  • Greet with a warm hug. 
  • Allow reentry time. 
  • Give focused attention. 
  • Ask nonthreatening questions. 
  • Expect children to try to manipulate your feelings. 
  • Don’t assume all they say is true. 
  • Distance yourself emotionally from any anger.

God’s Recipe for Loving Others

  • Know that you are chosen by God. 

(Colossians 3:12)

  • Realize that you are loved by God.

(Colossians 3:12)

  • Reflect the character of Christ (compassion, kindness,

humility, gentleness, and patience).

(Colossians 3:12)

  • Lift up and support each other.

 (Colossians 3:13)

  • Forgive those who offend you.

(Colossians 3:13)

  • Act in love.

 (Colossians 3:14)

  • Know that love builds unity.

 (Colossians 3:14)

  • Live in peace with one another.

(Colossians 3:15)

  • Have a thankful heart.

(Colossians 3:15)

 

Blended Family Bonding

  • Build a solid relationship with your spouse. 

(Genesis 2:24)

  • Observe family traditions and holidays with flexibility. (Romans 12:10)
  • Nurture the children’s nuclear family relationships. (Exodus 20:12)
  • Determine to stand firm.

 (Proverbs 29:15, 17)

  • Initiate family structure. 

(Proverbs 3:12)

  • Negotiate mutual ground. 

(1 Corinthians 1:10)

  • Grow in dependence on Christ. 

(Colossians 2:6–7)

 

Key Verse to Learn 

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

 (Romans 14:19) 

 

Key Passage to Read 

Colossians 3:12–15 

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