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Blended Families Podcast

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I was recently interviewed about blended families by Chuck Hagele, executive director of Project Patch. Project Patch is an organization dedicated to serving families and troubled youth.

The podcast is below. Enjoy!

 

 

You can also hear the podcast on itunes.

I also work with blended families at the Northwest Marriage Institute. We offer free seminars around the Vancouver, Washington area. Please see our website for upcoming dates.

 

Related Posts

From Shaken to Stirred: Blending Families With Style

Helping Fatherless Families

The Opportunities of a Blended Family: Turning Lemons into Lemonade

family lemonade standThere is nothing easy about blending two families together. If there are kids involved, we don’t have the honeymoon period after the wedding to get to know each other. We say, “I do”, and BOOM—instant family. We are thrust into a new family with baggage, diverse personalities, and little time to keep the romance alive.

Are we doomed from the beginning? We can turn the proverbial lemons into lemonade. It all depends on our approach and expectations.

Blended families certainly have challenges, but they also provide unique opportunities for every member of the new family. Here are some:

  1. Two Parents. Many times, children of divorce live in single-parent families. Mom has to be both mom and dad. This puts strain on parents as well as children. Blended families allow children to experience parents working together as partners. It also gives children both male and female role models. With two parents, discipline can be more balanced. Mom now has another adult to support her disciplinary measures and relieve some of the pressure.
  1. Additional Siblings. A blended family can provide that “only child” a new brother or sister. This gives him a playmate and life-long friend. For children that already have siblings, blended families provide additional opportunities to develop social skills with people around their own age.
  1. Diversity. Blended families are diverse in many ways. Individuals contribute their different backgrounds, personalities, and experiences to the family. These provide opportunities to learn from each other. If the two families are ethnically diverse, the opportunities are multiplied.
  1. Conflict Resolution Skills. Chances are that the previous family did not adequately learn how to resolve arguments or disagreements. A new family provides new opportunities to work together and develop conflict resolution skills.
  1. Peace. People that come from families that dissolved may be suffering from broken relationships, pain, and a loss of security. Blended families provide a fresh start. They can foster healing and hope. Parents need to communicate to children that they are committed to their family forever—then act like it.

A blended family can turn lemons into lemonade. It takes intentional work, time, and patience, but the results offer dividends that last a lifetime!

Related Posts:
Parenting Step-Children
Blended Families Podcast

From Shaken to Stirred: Blending Families With Style, Part 1

Blending families is no picnic. Merging two families together, with different traditions, personalities, and parenting styles presents difficult challenges. Is it any wonder that 70 percent of remarriages involving children dissolve within the first five and a half years?

Blended families are not rare. Forty-three percent of all marriages in the US today are a second or third marriage. People who decide to blend their families in a remarriage often face unexpected complications. If you compare remarriages to settings on a blender, you will likely encounter some shredding, mincing, and chopping before achieving “smoothie” status. And the process may take many years. The opportunities for ministering to blended families are ripe.

Following are some tips to blending with style:

1. Bask in the love of God. People who decide to blend their families sometimes have several strikes against them. They may feel like second-class citizens because of their divorces and they may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their past. Or, they may feel abandoned, heartbroken and distrustful. These things can wreak havoc on self-esteem, confidence and hope for a stable future. During the early stages of the remarriage, it is important for marriage partners to remember that God loves them, no matter what, and that He will take their brokenness and make them whole again. The apostle Paul said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9)

2. Cherish your marriage. There are so many ways that marriages can fail. In blended families it is especially crucial to be on the same team and not let others (extended family, children and friends) come between you. Jesus said, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matt. 19:5-6). Married couples should protect each other by speaking well of the other person at all times. They need to appreciate effort. Couples need to expect goodwill instead of imagining that the other person has it “out for him”. They need to give the other person the benefit of the doubt by not making mountains out of molehills. The bottom line is that couples should put each other first.

3. Plan time together. If there are children in the picture, remarriages begin a step behind traditional marriages. There is no honeymoon period where couples can focus solely on each other. This should not be a hindrance. Couples can still seek to improve their marriage by establishing regular date nights and other times for conversation, planning, and communication. It is also important to have daily “couch time”. This is normally 15-30 minutes of uninterrupted time where couples communicate about their days, their plans, and the latest family news. During this time, it is critical that children do not disrupt the conversation, since it usually happens in an open space of the home. It needs to be clearly understood that this is “our time” together. Research has shown that children who learn to respect this time develop a greater sense of strength for their parents’ marriage, thus leading to a higher sense of security in the home.

What else can couples in blended families do to strengthen their marriages?

Restored and Remarried

Restored and Remarried

an Interview with Gil and Brenda Stuart

(reblogged from Project Patch)
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Every family is dysfunctional, some families get away with it while others can’t because more is required of them.  Blended families, single parent homes, homes with illness, homes with any kind of job loss or a host of the challenges requires the family to have a higher level of “family skills” than a “normal” family.  It isn’t fair.

Actually, I don’t think there is such a thing as a “normal” family.  At some point every family will experience a season that requires more communication, problem solving and dealing with conflict.

Some families can’t predict when they will be called upon to be less dysfunctional.  However, for blended families, even before the “I do” is said, they know dysfunction is near and have to elevate their game.

This podcast interview is with Gil and Brenda Stuart who’s mission is, “Encouragement for remarried couples in a stepfamily.”  They are all about helping step families discover God’s purpose for their newly formed family and the skills to live them out.


About our guests:Stuart

I met Gil and Brenda several years ago and my first impression was that I not only liked them, I also felt like I had known them a long time.  They are a couple with a lot going on.  They have seven children between them and now have two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.  Gil is an insurance broker and Brenda leads a team building organization.  They are popular speakers and lead seminars to help other couples like them who are remained.  They also have developed a seminar called “Rearview Mirror” which helps all couples focus on what matters.

Key Points from Interview:

  • Foundation of honesty
  • Necessity of forgiveness – especially for yourself
  • How your marriage is strengthened through community and information.
  • Importance of parents taking time to trust and rely on each other, especially for discipline of kids
  • How it is a long term focus rather than need for immediate results

Resources:

Their website:  www.restoredandremaried.com
Their books/materials:  Visit their store

Top 10 Blended Family Points

  1. There are 67 types of stepfamilies
  2. 72 differences between first marriages and remarriage
  3. 40% of all marriages today are creating stepfamilies
  4. New Stat (6/2014: from The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn)  Remarriage divorce rate is 34% not the 60% previously thought. Some stats state 40-50% of remarriages end in divorce. 80% of those marriages that failed could have been saved with information/education and support small group/fellowship with other stepfamilies.)
  5. Churches are reluctant to engage in a Stepfamily ministry for fear of condoning divorce
  6. Many remarried couples do not ask for the help/encouragement they need because of the “shame factor”
  7. Kid issues: grieving, schedules, POW swap, holidays, jealousy, parenting styles
  8. The step parent/step child relationship creates more threat to the remarriage than money, sex, work stress or in laws than in first time marriages
  9. Co-parenting: child support, schedules, two different life styles/values
  10. Modeling a healthy remarriage can reduce the divorce rate for kids in a stepfamily; which can change the legacy of the family

Related Posts:
Blended Families Podcast
The Opportunities of a Blended Family: Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Parenting Special Needs Children

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Parenting is a tough job. But parenting children with special needs is exponentially more challenging. Fifty-three percent of marriages with a special needs child that end up in divorce point to the child’s disability as having “some” or “major” influence on the eventual dissolution of the marriage (Shapiro, 2003).

Children with special needs can affect the entire family:

  1. Jealousy or embarrassment from siblings. Children with special needs require more attention with everyday life. Because of this, siblings may feel left out. They may also feel embarrassed of their special needs sibling in social situations or in public.
  1. Communication struggles. Children with special needs often have difficulties articulating, understanding, or processing verbal communication. This can cause parents and siblings to feel frustrated. It can also be extremely difficult for the special needs child.
  1. Disenfranchisement from other family members. Because the special needs child frequently has some kind of physical limitation, families are often restricted in the activities they can do as a family. This may cause feelings of resentment toward the special needs child.

What can parents do?

I am the father of a special needs child—a daughter with Cerebral Palsy. My wife and I have done some things right and made plenty of mistakes with her. Following are some things we have learned that any parent can do to help foster well-being:

  1. Get to know your child. Spend time with her. Do things with her that she likes to do. Give her individual attention. This takes time, but know that if you do not invest time with her now that you will regret it later. Your child is special, and she is worth your time!
  2. Play with your child. What if your child is physically unable to go on hikes or be away from home care for long periods of time? Find things you can do together. Our daughter has an incredible memory. We have discovered that she is very good at games that require a good memory. And bowling is easy—just put up the bumpers!
  3. Get help. Do not be too proud to seek help. None of us have all the answers. We can go to counseling and support groups. There are lots of organizations for special needs children that can provide things like physical therapy and specialized equipment, such as Shriners.
  4. Develop their individuality. The natural inclination of many parents is to do everything for their special needs child. Your child is likely more capable of doing more than you give him credit for. We can guide him toward developing his own individuality by teaching him problem-solving tools and basic life skills such as cooking and balancing a checkbook. If there is a problem at school, we can offer a listening ear and together brainstorm possible solutions.
  5. Experiment with different learning styles/discipline. None of us have all the answers. We need to recognize that each child is different and requires a tailored parenting approach. There is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to parenting. At times, behaviors of a special needs child may be interpreted as disobedience, but your child simply may not understand. Be careful that you do not discipline prematurely.
  6. Educate yourself. We knew nothing about CP before our daughter was born, so we looked for ways to understand this disability. Books can be very helpful. One book I would recommend was written by Lynn McDaniel, who has CP, called, I Can Too!.
  7. Take care of yourself. Parenting a special needs child can be so consuming that it is easy to neglect ourselves. We all need time to recharge and regroup. Find what works for you and plan it into your schedule.
  8. Be patient! There is nothing easy about parenting a special needs child. Never give up. Be patient, and know that your efforts will make a difference in the long haul.

 

Resources:
McDaniel, Lynn (2003). Yes, I Can! Publishing Designs, Inc.

Singer, Jonathan L. (2012). The Special Needs Parent Handbook: Critical Strategies and Practical Advice to Help You Survive and Thrive.

Shapiro, A. (2003) ‘No Time for Us’: Relationships between Parents who have a Disabled Child. A survey of over 2000 parents in the UK. UK: Contact a Family

Shriners
http://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org

 

Related Posts
Parenting Children With Special Needs [podcast]
Blended Families Podcast

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