5 Ways the Church Can Be a Blessing to Blended Families

BY: - 7 Mar '14 | Blended Families

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by Janice R. Love,

The church has been the foundation in the African American community for decades. Individuals and families seek membership for many reasons including: Christian growth and development, opportunities to serve God and others, friendships, assistance with accountability, having a sense of community, friendships, and having a healthy environment to raise children. Traditionally, the church has built ministries around traditional families. However, demographics are changing and families aren’t so traditional anymore. The church is now filled with divorced individuals, single parents and most specifically blended families.

Are churches capable of ministering to the new blended family? With over two decades of Christian ministry under his belt, my husband thought he had a handle on what families were going through when there is a divorce and/or a remarriage, and families with children are forced to join together. However, our blended family experience totally changed his approach to ministering to these families.

Here are five ways the church can be a blessing to blended families.

  1. Get Trained. Church leadership, once trained in stepfamily dynamics, can better minister to blended family needs. Share biblical accounts of stepfamilies. For example, Jesus was raised in a blended family. The story of Moses is another wonderful story to share.
  2. Add to Premarital Counseling. Incorporate a blended family component into premarital counseling and/or marriage workshops and retreats.                                                                      TNMFamilyHomeDaughters
  3. Develop Step-family Ministries. Develop a step-family ministry where couples can fellowship, support and share with one another. A ministry can help families feel a sense of community.
  4. Provide Resources.  Make books and DVD resources available. There are numerous resources that can assist ministries and blended families.
  5. Recognize Step-parents. Celebrate Step-moms and Step-dads on traditional days such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Stepparents often get left out on these special days.

Don’t forget, step parenting is much different than parenting. And churches must be able to meet families where they are. If you are a member of a church, speak with church leaders about being a blessing to blended families.

Janice R. Love, known as “JLove Stepmom Coach” is the author of One Plus One Equals Ten: A First Lady’s Survival Guide for Stepmoms. She is the biological mom of two children and a stepmom to six. Janice earned a Master’s in Biological /Health Psychology from the University of Oklahoma and is certified as a Stepfamily Coach by The Stepfamily Foundation, Incorporated. Along with her husband, Rev., Dr. Bobby L. Love, she is the cofounder of Step with Love  (http://www.stepwithlove.org/), a ministry offering blended family counseling, coaching and seminars for couples, stepmoms and churches respectively. They reside in the Kansas City area. 

Click here to check out more Blended Family Resources on BMWK.

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7 Steps to a Well Blended Family

BY: - 14 Mar '14 | Blended Families

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I come from a family that was so well blended I wasn’t even aware that our family dynamic wasn’t the norm until I was at least in high school. The term blended family was new to me. Even though my parents each came into their union with children from previous marriages, my sisters were just my sisters and mommy and daddy were just that. I distinctly remember my mother saying “the only steps in our family are in the staircase”. My parents made this thing seem so easy that when I fell in love with a man who had pre-teen children, I just knew it would be easy breezy. I was wrong. I was pull out my hair, crying, screaming, looking for the escape hatch wrong. There are many reasons why my family failed to blend well, some within my control, some not, but hindsight is 20/20 and here’s a list of a few things I’d change if I could.

1. Have realistic expectations.  You probably won’t instantly love your new spouse’s kids (and vice versa) and they’ll see right through you if you fake it. Get to know them and let the love and affection develop naturally.

2. Don’t move too fast. Divorce is hard on kids (not matter what age). Successfully blending a family is more likely if the new couple waits a couple of years after a divorce to remarry.

3. Discuss parenting styles BEFORE you get married. My husband and I have very different views on parenting. Even though he’s 18 years my senior, I’m way more old school when it comes to the kids. Of course you can’t plan for every situation, but agreeing on how you’ll parent together makes for an easier transition and decreases the chance that the new spouse will be the target of resentment and blame for any changes that are made.

4. Resist the temptation to be the “cool” parent. This is especially important if the kids are only with you part time. Trips and gifts are fun, but the kids should understand that those are treats. Make an effort to incorporate the kids into your  ‘real’ life instead of just letting them experience the fun stuff.

5. Don’t choose sides… Or issue ultimatums. Kids will test parents; biological or not. It’s important that you and your spouse parent with a united front. Don’t make your spouse feel like they have to choose between you and their children. Likewise, don’t make your spouse feel like they come second to your kids.

6. They’re just kids. This is something that I’ve really struggled with. You will put a lot of time, energy and love, into the relationship with your new spouse’s kids. Don’t take it personally if those aren’t returned right away.

7. You don’t have to like me… But you do have to respect me.  At the end of the day, you can’t force your new spouse’s kids to like you, but in order for the family to even begin to thrive everyone MUST treat each other with respect.

What say you BMWK? What are some tips you have for successfully blending a family?

Also Checkout 5 Tips to Help You Transition into a Blended Family

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T. Espinoza wrote 55 articles on this blog.

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