Blended Family, Co-parenting, Marriage & Family, Parenting, Stepfamily

To Quit or Not To Quit-The Blended Family Struggle

No matter who you are or where you are in life, we will all face times where you have to make a choice to give up and quit, or push through and persevere. At times, quitting seems like the logical, or maybe the easy thing to do. However, do you ever stop to think about what would happen if you chose to persevere? 

In this era of social media, stories of challenges and victories are everywhere. Whether you are a Christian or not, the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors is a great tale of perseverance that many have heard about. If you are not famiiar with it, here is a quick summation. God gave him a great dream, which he shared with his “blended family.” He was, then, thrown into a pit to die by his own brothers, he was sold into slavery, and if that wasn’t bad enough, he was later imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit.

Through his entire life, with all the troubles and disappointments, Joseph continued to push on. Think about how hard it must have been for Joseph, all those years of suffering and not knowing why. When there was finally a ray of sun shining in his life, there was yet another setback to overcome. But what Joseph didn’t know, as many of us in our own battles, was that God was up to something…something good.

In our life, when we are going through struggles, we turn a blind eye to what God is doing, we focus on how challenging the situation is, and immediately throw ourselves a pity party. We all have a choice in how we respond in these moments. You can get anchored in the mindset of defeat and hopelessness, or you can choose to seek God’s guidance and direction to decipher what He is doing in you in this process.

After all the trials, and because of his faithfulness, we see God lift Joseph up and place him in a position of great authority and honor. God did something in Joseph that was only accomplished as he walked through these horrible moments in his life. 

In your blended family, how many times have you felt like Joseph? Feeling like you are in the pit or, worse yet, serving a prison sentence you don’t feel you did anything to deserve.

Being in a blended family doesn’t always feel ideal. At times, you may have felt like this was a huge mistake and it’s never going to get any better. It’s at these times, that you have to hold on to God’s promises and remember that He’s got this. Just like Joseph, if you continue to do what God calls you to do and persevere, He will do something in you, and your family, that you would never be able to do on your own.

We pray that in your moment of struggle, you seek God. He is the one that will bring all the pieces together to work for good. We know that God will do a mighty work in your family. It’s His promise.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Marriage & Family

A Marriage MUST-Don’t miss it!

As the new year rolls in, many people begin with setting resolutions for the next 12 months. In this era of social media, many of those resolutions are posted for all to see online. Some of the more popular posts involve getting healthier and spending more time with family. Although these are great goals, it is rare to see ones where couples are posting about resolving to have more date nights and strengthen their marriage. With the divorce rate in the country at around 50%, why is it that couples are not being more intentional about setting goals for their marriage and relationships? 

In the home, the marriage is the backbone of the family. The family will only be as strong as the marriage. Spiritual, emotional, and physical connection is important for the health of both the couple and the family. How intentional are you being about this in your relationship? The busyness of life has us going in multiple directions on a daily basis, which is generally what we use as the excuse for not having more regularly scheduled date nights. “I’m too tired” is likely the overused statement when it comes to spending time together. With children, work, school, and even pets continually vying for our time and attention, we definitely understand that the struggle is real. So, realistically, how do we maintain a strong connection with our spouse amidst the craziness of it all?

The one thing we know with certainty is that we have to be intentional. Schedule regular date nights and time together with your spouse and put them on the calendar. Making sure this time is on the calendar will keep you accountable and will magnify the importance of having time together as a couple, as lovers. It will also help to set clear expectations for you and your spouse, help to set boundaries to protect your relationship, and, of course, set a great example for your children, who are ALWAYS watching.

One day, you will wake up and the noise of life will have lessened, the overfilled schedules would have become a thing of the past, and the children will now be adults of their own and no longer under your care. The hope is that this person that stood excitedly alongside you at the inception of the relationship, is still firmly and intimately connected to you, and ready to enjoy the next season with even more passion and enthusiasm than when the adventure began.

Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil. – Ecclesiastes 9:9

Blended Family, Co-parenting, Marriage & Family, Parenting, Stepfamily

Marriage breakdown-What are your warning lights?

What does preventative maintenance look like in your relationship? Do you understand the importance of maintenance in your marriage?

Everyday, we perform preventative maintenance in many areas of life. We brush our teeth to help prevent cavities. We take daily supplements and exercise to ensure optimal health. We get regular oil changes and tune-ups for our cars to keep them running properly. These are only a few examples of everyday things in our lives that we do to help us maintain a healthy, balanced, happy life. 

Why don’t we perform the preventive maintenance in our marriage: inspection, detection, and corrections before damage occurs and develop into major issues? For many, the answer is pride. We attempt to fix it ourselves, so no one will know there is a problem. Instead of seeking out the necessary means to assist in the relationship, many decide to “trial and error” the heck out of it. In doing so, many couples do more harm than good, inevitably causing some major damage, much of which leads to bitterness and resentment in the relationship.  

There are other options available to help couples develop healthy habits to have a more fulfilling marriage. Many couples find a marriage group they can join at their local church, as there is wisdom in being in community with like-minded individuals. There are also great resources that have been written on the topic of marriage that can be another asset to your relationship. Yet, another avenue would be to find a mentor couple, typically a couple with more years of marriage that you admire, that can come alongside you and provide guidance from their years of experience.

Here are a few points to consider for daily preventative maintenance:

  1. Inspection– Ask yourself, “How am I doing as a husband/wife? Am I fulfilling my responsibilities in my role?” Ask your spouse, “How am I doing as a husband/wife? Am I fulfilling my responsibilities in my role?” See if your answers mirror your spouses responses.
  2. Detection– Do you notice an increase in disagreements? How much time do you spend together? How would you rate your intimacy?
  3. Corrections– Once you discover there are areas of improvement needed, are you willing to be intentional in actively seeking the necessary means to help make changes in the areas that need improvement in your relationship? 

To have a healthy and thriving relationship, it requires a daily effort of open and honest communication with your spouse. If you cannot communicate or your relationship has experienced a breakdown you can’t seem to repair, please don’t hesitate to seek counseling. Don’t miss the opportunity to invest in your marriage and have the rest of your years together be abundantly more fruitful than ever!

“Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” Proverbs 11:14 MSG

Blended Family, Co-parenting, Marriage & Family, Parenting, Stepfamily

You Have Got To Be Kidding!

You finally found it! You have been looking for this shirt for so long. It has been on back order for quite some time, and you finally got word that it’s gonna be arriving. It is more expensive than your usual buy, but it’s completely fine because it’s the one you have been searching for. You are so excited when it finally arrives that you can’t hardly wait to try it on. You take it out of the package and finally get to put it on for the first time. Then, you see something out of the corner of your eye…there’s a tiny snag.

New relationships are just like this new shirt. We have been searching for a loving partner, we get super excited when we finally find the one. We can’t wait to start our new lives and family together. At the time, we are so excited and, in the moment, we are just blinded by the emotion of being in love. Then, just like that new shirt, once we start to enjoy our new found love, we notice a “SNAG!”

For many blended families, the first snag they notice typically has something to do with the children. At first, the snag seems very small. Maybe it’s how our new spouse speaks to our children. It’s different than how we would do it. Over time, as the relationship begins to evolve, the snag becomes even more of a nuisance. It starts to bother us even more. Now, it’s become very clear that they just don’t seem to understand how “we” do things around here. Eventually, we don’t see the beautiful shirt anymore…just the “snag.”

So, how do we handle the “snag?” For some, they might try to ignore it, and that might work for a little while. However, it won’t take too long before it gets caught on something else. Others might try and pull the string out. We all have tried this and have come to know it causes more damage than good. Still, others might try and cut it off. That will also cause even more damage to the shirt. Finally, there are those who would just rather throw the shirt away than to try fixing it. I mean, what’s the point… it’s damaged, right? 

Not necessarily. Not knowing how best to handle a “snag” has the potential to cause a lot of damage now and later. We believe that it’s best to seek help to deal with the “snag.” Why?  Because your family is too important, too valuable not to do what’s best. 

Go back to the beginning of the story…or your story. How did you feel at the start of it all? We are here to tell you, from personal experience, that you have a 100% chance to have a successful blended family. If you seek the proper tools and resources, you have a tremendous opportunity to equip yourself to handle whatever “snag” your family will face. Quitting or throwing it away may seem like the easy way to deal with it, for some. However, it is never the best option. You will eventually have to face the snags. What choice will you make?


Blended Family, Co-parenting, Marriage & Family, Parenting, Stepfamily

Don’t Miss The Blessings That’s Right In Front Of You

abstract aqua art blur

It’s no secret that being in a blended family comes with its own unique set of challenges. One of the toughest ones for me has been missing my biological children when they are not with me. It’s very difficult to go from seeing your children everyday to every weekend or every other weekend or, in some cases, even longer spans of separation. To tell you I have gotten used to it would be a lie. It still hurts. I came to understand that missing them was going to be part of my life because of the divorce. However, what I didn’t understand was how missing them was affecting my wife and my children that were living with me full-time.

You see, I was so focused on how much I missed the kids that weren’t with me that I was missing out on the kids that were with me. I was missing the blessing right in front of me. Many of us do this on a regular basis. We spend so much time complaining about what we don’t have that we often fail to recognize the many blessings that are currently present. It reminds me about Adam and Eve. They were living in paradise with God. It was perfect. They had all of their needs met. The only thing God asked them not to do was eat from the one tree in the middle of the garden. That was it. Then the enemy came along and pointed their attention to the one thing they didn’t have. They became so focused on that one thing that they completely forgot about everything else God had blessed them with!

I share all of this because I didn’t even realize I was doing it until my wife pointed it out to me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew immediately that I needed to change my perspective. I prayed about it and God made me aware that there is a healthy and an unhealthy way to miss my kids. I was definitely more on the unhealthy side and it was causing me to miss out on so many blessings.

Today, I still miss seeing my biological children on a regular basis, but I make sure to let them know how much I love and miss them, and I let God take it from there.

“You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.”              Psalm 128:2

 

 

Blended Family, Co-parenting, Marriage & Family, Parenting, Stepfamily

Blended Parenting: Good Cop, Bad Cop

police fun funny uniform

“I don’t feel like I have any say when it comes to the children. I feel when I do say something, it always causes big issues with my spouse. Do I even have any authority in my role as a stepparent?”

Many stepparents feel as though when it comes to their stepchildren, they are just going along for the ride, but this gets old very quickly. As stepparents we get tired of always being the bad cop and we feel as though we aren’t getting the support of our spouse, and the children aren’t showing us any respect. Most of the time this occurs even before the ink has even dried on the marriage certificate.

Here are a few thoughts to consider if you are the biological parent:

If you are the biological parent and you got married/remarried, your new spouse is now in a parenting role with the child. They are one of the child’s parents. They are not taking the place of their biological parent, but with the marriage comes the appointed role of parent. That means they should have a voice when it comes to the child. If they don’t, it WILL cause issues in the relationship.

If this previous statement is tough for you to swallow, and you’re not married yet…stop everything, and don’t get married! You should not be moving forward with getting married if you don’t feel comfortable with giving the role over to your potential spouse.

Here are a few thoughts to consider if you are the stepparent:

Remember, you are coming into new territory. You have never been a part of this parenting role before with your new spouse or new child. Chances are they have been doing things very different before you came along. Things are going to look different from what you might be used to, so move in slowly.

The biological parent should welcome you to come parent alongside them, but it’s also very important for you and your spouse to have very clear expectations on what parenting will look like. These things are better discussed before the marriage takes place, but if it hasn’t happened yet, now is the time.

Being a parent in general is very difficult, but when you add all the different dynamics of the blended family, it can, at times, seem down right overwhelming. But the good news is, if you do it by applying God’s principles, you can have a successful blend every time.

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

Amos 3:3

Blended Family, Marriage & Family

Blended: The Grandparents’ Perspective

man and child walking near bushes during daytime

As grandparents, we have seen how the blending process has continued way past our children leaving home. Our first encounter came when our oldest child became pregnant for the first time. What did that mean for us as grandparents? What was our role going to be in our grandchild’s life?

For a nuclear family, the birth of a grandchild brings extreme joy and happiness. When in a blended family, the happiness might be short-lived, or come in spurts, due to the uncertainty of your role in the grandchild’s life. In this scenario, there might be instead of 4 grandparents, six, or maybe more! How was this all going to play out? Would we be at the hospital for the birth? When would we be able to see our child and grandchild? These are just a few of the questions you might be faced with as a “blended” grandparent.

Personally, the hardest part is waiting to see if we will be included in the plans for visitations when our grandchildren are in town. It may sound like a no brainer, but when their is limited time, and they are faced with planning out their trip, time goes very quickly, when it’s split multiple times. So, often times, it leaves you wondering, if you will make the cut this time.

So now, our child is faced with the same dilemma we are faced with, “How do I split the time?” It never crossed my mind that the choice of getting divorced would one day have such an impact on my grandkids. Though, at times, this is difficult and sad, we don’t dwell on the past. We focus on how we can change the future, for the better. We don’t allow the past decision of divorce to rob us of the joy that is still to come.

So how can we handle this as blended grandparents? I think we need to start with some realistic expectations.

  1. There is only so much time to go around. You are going to be faced with many choices when it comes to visitation with your grandchild. Don’t get too wrapped up on when it’s going to happen, or how much time you get. Just enjoy every moment you are blessed to have.
  2. Don’t pressure. Don’t try to guilt your child or grandchild to come and visit you. It will only backfire. Let your time together happen organically.
  3. Do it all in love. The most important thing is to always make sure your child and grandchild know you love them and that they know you would be more than happy to see them, whenever it’s convenient for them. ( But sooner rather than later, would be great!:))

 

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

Proverbs 17:6