A Glimpse at a Blended Family
Let’s talk about blended families. A blended family is what occurs when a man and woman marry, and one or both bring with them children from a previous marriage or relationship. An untimely death, divorce, or children being born out of wedlock are all symptomatic of the sinful world we live in and are all events that could lead to a blended family. You could say blended families are the result of sin, BUT WE ARE NOT SAYING BLENDED FAMILIES IN AND OF THEMSELVES ARE SINFUL. In fact, blended families can be wonderful models of what God desires for husbands and wives and the children in their care. However, blended families come with their own set of challenges. That is the focus of this article.
I know Tom and Jane (not their real names) very well. They have a strong Christ-centered marriage and are dedicated, Christian parents. They have a blended family. Tom and Jane agreed to share their experiences on this subject with me. Hopefully, other blended families and couples who are contemplating becoming a blended family can find these insights helpful and practical.
There is no typical blended family. Each one is different. In some cases, both spouses may be bringing existing children into the mix. Matters may be complicated further if an ex-spouse shares custody of the children. Tom and Jane’s case was a bit different. Jane had never been married and was not a parent. By contrast, Tom was divorced and has joint custody of the children from that marriage.
I started by asking Tom and Jane about their thoughts and experiences prior to marriage. How did they approach this new relationship? For Jane, this was understandably not what she had envisioned for herself. With no parenting experience, she had no idea of the amount of sacrifice it takes to be a parent. In addition to Tom, there were children she would have to grow to love — children who started out as total strangers. Jane admitted there were times she just didn’t think this relationship would end with a life-long commitment of marriage. As she struggled and finally realized that this was indeed what she wanted, she reminded herself that all things are in Gods hands and put her trust in Him. Jane stated, There must be a reason why God did this.
Tom and Jane were very realistic as they approached this huge commitment. Among the things they did in preparation was sit down with a Christian family counselor and discuss the various issues that might come up as they became a family.
If there was one theme that constantly surfaced in my conversation with these folks, it was the necessity of keeping Christ at the center of their relationship as a couple and as a family. As Tom put it, I don’t know how this works if you don’t have Christ as the center of your life. You base everything in the Word. No amount of preparation could completely prepare Tom and Jane for their wedded life. There are bumps in the road but their shared faith in Christ, evidenced by the love and patience they display for each other, keeps things going on the right track.
Eventually, Tom and Jane were blessed with children of their own, but they always made an effort to make sure the older children were not forgotten. Jane had this to say about Tom: [He] spent more time and made more effort to make sure the older kids did not feel slighted at all. Jane supported Tom through this and recognized it required sacrifice on the part of both of them. [A step-parent must realize] there will never be the honeymoon stage of marriage that’s the way it was and that’s to Toms credit that he saw [the needs of the older children] and knew that had to happen.
Jane came to realize that her relationship with her stepchildren would be unique. She said, “You do the practical work of being a mom.” But she also recognizes that emotionally she will never take the place of the children’s biological mother. Jane and the children have a solid loving relationship but Jane knows, “They have [their real] mom, and they love that mom unconditionally.” Through it all Jane feels blessed with the unique relationship she shares with her stepchildren. “They’ve taught me a lot. It can be very satisfying. It’s love on a different level.”
As we continued to discuss their life, it became apparent that these two take their jobs as parents very seriously. Toms advice to others: Don’t be afraid to be a parent. [Many people in this situation are] afraid to be parents always worried our kids are going to get mad at us. Kids love us no matter what and they are looking for that guidance.
Tom and Jane are also committed to each other. By Gods grace their experiences have strengthened their relationship. They recognize that a huge factor is their shared faith in God. Tom observed that, “Anytime you’re forced to seek God and His Word, you become stronger.”
This blended family has found success and rightly gives the credit to God. God truly is their guide as they journey through life together. All families, blended or not, face unique challenges. Hopefully what Tom and Jane have shared will be of help. Like them, all of us need the comforting knowledge that God is in control. Tom summed it up best by quoting Psalm 46, verse 10: Be still and know that I am God.
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