Blended Families Part 9: A Plan for Successful Step-Parenting + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 9: A Plan for Successful Step-Parenting - We've all heard the saying, "Fail to plan; plan to fail." In last week's post, "You're not my dad!," we talked about the challenges step-parents face when children don't recognize their authority or when step-parents refuse to get involved in parenting issues. Today we'll talk about a plan for successful step-parenting.

Blended Families Part 9: A Plan for Successful Step-Parenting

 

We’ve all heard the saying, “Fail to plan; plan to fail.” In last week’s post, “You’re not my dad!,” we talked about the challenges step-parents face when children don’t recognize their authority or when step-parents refuse to get involved in parenting issues. Today we’ll talk about a plan for successful step-parenting and a great tool for parents called a “behavior contract.”

 

Last week I said that God has a blueprint for marriage (Gen. 2.24) and because it involves a one flesh relationship, both biological parents and step-parents have a responsibility to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6.4) and to not exasperate them or provoke them to anger (Col. 3.21; Eph. 6.4).

So how do we apply those principles to real life step-parenting?

 

Make a Plan

 

Some suggestions for getting started:

For the Biological Father:

  • Spend more time communicating with your wife. What are her concerns?
  • Work on a behavior contract for each of the children (more in a minute).
  • Communicate to your children that you support your wife, that she is their authority, and that they must obey her.
  • Have zero tolerance for disrespect toward her.

For the Step-Father:

  • Sit down with your wife and work out a behavior contract for each of the children.
  • Allow your wife to be the initial up-front person when both of you are present.
  • When you disagree with your wife, discuss it in private.
  • Remember that you are still the leader of the home and ultimately responsible for what goes on in the home, including parenting the children.

For the Biological Mother:

  • Recognize you husband is the head of the home.
  • Work with your husband to establish a behavior contract for each of the children.
  • Explain to the children that your husband is the head of the home. Explain they must obey his authority.
  • If you disagree with your husband, discuss it in private.

For the Step-Mother:

  • Ask your husband what responsibilities he wants you to handle.
  • Work with your husband to develop a behavior contract for each of the children.
  • Be consistent to follow through with your husband’s decisions.
  • If you disagree with your husband, discuss it in private.

 

What is a behavior contract?

 

A behavior contract is merely a tool to help you define your expectations for each child and the resulting consequences and rewards.

Many parents in blended families spend most of their time putting out fires and dealing with bad behavior. But God’s instructions involve much more. Let’s look at those two parenting verses again:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6.4).

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart (Col. 3.21).

Disciplining for wrong behavior is only one part of parenting. Just as important, maybe more so in the long run, is instructing children in the right way to go.

God gives us clear instructions. He spells out how we should live and the consequences of disobeying Him (Gen. 2.16-17; Deut. 28; Gal. 6.7-8). We should do the same for our children. Too often children are exasperated because parents are inconsistent or unclear about their expectations. This is where a behavior contract can help.

 

Writing Out a Behavior Contract

 

Start by working together with your spouse to make a list of the strengths and weaknesses of each child. Examples might be:  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 8: “You’re not my dad!” + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 8: "You're not my dad!" - "You're not my dad!" "I don't have to listen to you!" "You can't tell me what to do!" I wonder how many times those statements have been made in step-families. Or how about these, "They're your kids, you deal with it!" or "They're my kids, I'll handle it!" How does God expect us to handle these issues?

Blended Families Part 8: “You’re not my dad!”

 

“You’re not my dad!” “I don’t have to listen to you!” “You can’t tell me what to do!” I wonder how many times those statements have been made in step-families.

Or how about these, “They’re your kids, you deal with it!” or “They’re my kids, I’ll handle it!”

How does God expect us to handle these issues? Should the step-parent back off and let the biological parent deal with his or her children? Should we get into a power struggle and make sure the child knows who’s boss? Are children the sole responsibility of their natural parents?

 

We’ve been talking about the challenges blended families face and some of the ways their struggles are common to us all.

In previous posts we’ve talked about favoritism, the goal of the blended family, how to love biblically, and the importance of right priorities, among other subjects. In the last two weeks we’ve talked about angry children and how we sometimes provoke them to anger.

Today we’ll talk about the challenges step-parents face concerning their involvement and authority in their step-children’s lives.

 

“You’re not my dad!”

When a child or teenager makes this statement, the implication is, you have no authority in my life.

And when a step-parent says to his or her spouse, “It’s your problem,” he or she is saying I’ve got no responsibility in this. When the parent says, “Let me deal with it my way,” he or she is saying, “It’s not your place.”

But, is any of that true? Does God’s blueprint for marriage change simply because a couple has been married previously?

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2.24).

When a man and woman marry, they become one flesh. What she has is his and what he has is hers and not just material things. They are to serve God and do life together (Gen. 2.15-18). And that’s a good thing! In fact, it’s the reason many choose to remarry.

Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up (Eccl. 4.9-10).

But it means that neither of them can abdicate responsibility when the going gets tough. The commands given to parents is for both of them.

Ephesians 6.4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

And Colossians 3.21 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”

Those commands are:

  • Don’t provoke them to anger (see last week).
  • Bring them up.
  • Discipline them.
  • Instruct them.
  • Don’t exasperate them.

Notice that while because of the one flesh relationship those commands are for both of them, God spoke directly to fathers. Many husbands believe parenting is primarily their wife’s responsibility, but God says dads and step-dads have the ultimate responsibility (Eph. 5.23) and God will hold them accountable just as He did with Adam in the garden (Gen. 3.11).

 

“But the kids hate me!”

I know some of you are thinking, how is that possible when the kids seem to hate me for marrying their mom or dad. And sometimes the other biological parent appears to be doing everything he or she can to undermine your relationship with the children.

It may be true that God has allowed you to be in a difficult situation, but He promises to give you the grace and wisdom to deal with it.

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in allpoints tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4).

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4.13).

 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (Jas. 1).

We can count it all joy, not that we’re happy for the problems, but we can be joyful because we understand that God is using it to strengthen and mature us. And when we need wisdom in the midst of it, we can ask and receive it.

When was the last time you went to God in prayer before responding to a challenge to your authority? When was the last time you asked God to give you compassion for that rebellious son or daughter and for wisdom to reach his or her heart?  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 7: Provoking Children to Anger + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 7: Provoking Children to Anger

 

Blended Families Part 7: Provoking Children to Anger

 

We’ve been talking about the challenges blended families face and some of the ways their struggles are common to us all.

In previous posts we’ve talked about favoritism, the goal of the blended family, how to love biblically, and the importance of right priorities, among other subjects.

Last week we talked about angry children. But we can’t talk about angry children without asking ourselves if there are things we might be doing, intentionally or unintentionally, that provoke our children to anger.

Ephesians 6.4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

And Colossians 3.21 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”

While each of us, including our children, is responsible for his or her behavior, we can’t read those two verses without admitting we can make it easier for our children to become angry or exasperated.

Last week, we talked about the seed of hurt that can grow into anger, bitterness and, even, full-blown rebellion in our children. While the hurt can come as a result of wrong perceptions, assumptions or misunderstandings, it can also come as a result of sin on the part of one or more parents or step-parents.

Lou Priolo in his book, The Heart of Anger, lists 25 ways parents provoke their children to anger. Most of these apply to blended families, biological families, single parent families, even grandparents or others who are raising children. Here’s Lou’s list:

  1. By a lack of marital harmony
  2. Establishing and maintaining a child-centered home
  3. Modeling sinful anger
  4. Habitually disciplining while angry
  5. Scolding
  6. Being inconsistent with discipline
  7. Having double standards
  8. Being legalistic
  9. Not admitting you’re wrong and not asking for forgiveness
  10. Constantly finding fault
  11. Parents reversing God-given roles
  12. Not listening to your child’s opinion or taking his or her “side of the story” seriously
  13. Comparing them to others
  14. Not making time just to talk
  15. Not praising or encouraging your child
  16. Failing to keep your promises
  17. Chastening in front of others
  18. Not allowing enough freedom
  19. Allowing too much freedom
  20. Mocking your child
  21. Abusing them physically
  22. Ridiculing or name calling
  23. Unrealistic expectations
  24. Practicing favoritism
  25. Child training with worldly methodologies inconsistent with God’s Word

While these can and do apply to children and parents in all kinds of families, what might they look like in a blended family? Let’s expand on a few:  Continue reading

The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime?

 

This Election ... the Most Important in Our Lifetime?

 

The Most Important Election in Our Lifetime?

 

Almost everyone I talk to is disgusted and disheartened about the condition of our nation, the election, and the candidates.  Social media is full of disparaging comments, photos, and videos asking the question, “Is this the best we could come up with?”

The temptation for many of us is to turn away from the whole process, but could this be the most important election in our lifetime?

 

My Old Testament reading today was from Jeremiah 9 & 10. As I was working on today’s daily post, I found myself looking once again at truths that speak to us and to this election. The daily post kept getting longer and longer so I’m sending it out late and separately.

 

Jeremiah 9 & 10:

Sin, Lies & Politics

Jeremiah  is often called the weeping prophet. He was heartbroken over the spiritual and moral condition of his nation. In chapter 9 he said:

Oh, that I had in the wilderness
A lodging place for travelers;
That I might leave my people,
And go from them!
For they are all adulterers,
An assembly of treacherous men.

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies.
They are not valiant for the truth on the earth.
For they proceed from evil to evil,
And they do not know Me,” says the Lord.

We don’t use bows and arrows today, but we have all seen them. We understand how the bow is loaded with the arrow and then pulled back and fired at the target. In fact, the bow’s sole purpose is to launch arrows.

This was a picture of people whose lives were characterized by lies. Just like the bow is known for shooting arrows, so these people were known for a life of deceit. Jeremiah goes on to say,

“They weary themselves to commit iniquity” (9.5).

In our nation, it seems like every day there are new allegations and demonstrations of ungodly behavior on the part of one or both of our candidates … everything from cover-ups and deleted emails to so called “locker room talk.”

And, at least in one party, it appears systemic. Even those connected to the candidate “weary themselves to commit iniquity.”

If you can believe the most recently leaked emails, (even the writers aren’t denying their truth, only attacking the source), the political elite have contempt and disgust for people of faith.

Like many of our politicians, the people of Jeremiah’s day thought they were so wise (9.12). Perhaps, like today, they thought the religion of their fathers was for the weak and the unenlightened. We shouldn’t be surprised. 1 Corinthians 1 says:  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 6: Angry Children + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 6: Angry Children - We’ve all seen them, or experienced them, blended families with angry, resentful children or teens. And parents who are just trying to “live through it” until the kids are old enough to leave home. In some cases, the children aren’t only angry, but are in full blown rebellion. I don't have to tell you this falls far short of God's best for families. How does this happen when couples start out with such high hopes for their marriages and families?

 

Blended Families Part 6: Angry Children

 

We’ve been talking about the challenges blended families face and some of the ways their struggles are common to us all.

In previous posts we’ve talked about favoritism, the goal of the blended family, how to love biblically, and the importance of right priorities, among other subjects.

Today we’re going to talk about angry children.

 

We’ve all seen them, or experienced them, blended families with angry, resentful children or teens. And parents who are just trying to “live through it” until the kids are old enough to leave home. In some cases, the children aren’t only angry, but are in full blown rebellion. I don’t have to tell you this falls far short of God’s best for families.

How does this happen when couples start out with such high hopes for their marriages and families?

 

It starts with a seed.

 

It starts with a seed and that seed is a hurt.

… who can bear a broken spirit? (Prov. 18.14b)

The hurt often comes as a result of sin on the part of one or more parents or step-parents, but not always.

It can be real or, sometimes, only imagined. Things like:

  • A step-father trying to take a father’s place.
  • Unfair treatment by a parent or step-parent.
  • Desertion or rejection by one or more parents.
  • Favoritism toward a sibling or step-sibling.
  • The loss of friends or extended family.

If it’s not dealt with in a biblical way, the seed will grow into a root of bitterness.

 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many (Heb. 12.15 NLT).

The child cultivates that seed by playing the offense over and over in his or her mind. He thinks about how unfair it is, how he wishes things were different, or how he wants his old life back. As he does he’s nurturing and watering it. The seed grows into a bitter root and that root, if not addressed biblically, will spring up into an ugly bush.

We’ve all tasted something bitter. It’s sharp to the tongue and leaves a bad taste.

A bitter person, child or adult, is sharp with others, even when the other people are trying to be kind or loving. Pretty soon other family members are avoiding unnecessary interaction, fueling more anger and bitterness.

Bitterness, if not dealt with grows into anger. This kind of anger is not the occasional outburst that comes from various provocations, life events, or frustrations, but an angry disposition that begins to characterize their lives.

Allowed to remain, it can quickly grow into stubbornness or what some might call insubordination. Imagine the proverbial donkey with her front hooves dug into the ground while her master tries to move her forward. A stubborn son or daughter is uncooperative, often refusing to take part in family events, interact with others, or obey her parents.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry (1 Sam. 15.23a).

Stubbornness is idolatrous because the stubborn person thinks she is god of her own life. What makes her happy is getting her own way.

But sadly, stubbornness is not the end of the road for someone on this downward spiral. Stubbornness can lead to the next step, full blown rebellion. A rebel is someone who has become a fool in God’s eyes. He or she refuses to be under authority, especially, the authority of his or her parents.

Look at some of the characteristics of a fool from the book of Proverbs:  Continue reading

Blended Families Series + LINKUP

 

Blended Families + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Series + LINKUP

 

There’s no new blended family post this week, as I’m traveling and couldn’t have it ready on time. So here is the linkup. Stop back by next Sunday for the part 6 in the series, “Provocative Parents & Angry Children.”

Here’s a list of the previous posts in the series, in case you haven’t read them all:

Blended Families Part 1: The Losses & the Gains

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Different

Blended Families Part 3: Loving Not Liking Each Other

Blended Families Part 4: The Goal of Life

Blended Families Part 5: Favoritism & Other 4-Letter Words

Some of the subjects I’ll cover in future blogs:

Blended families in the Bible
How to prepare your children for being in a blended family
Damage control—healing the mistakes
Dealing with in-laws and out-laws
Helping your child be part of the “other” blended family
Dealing with “exes”
You’re not my dad!
Your questions, please share them in the comments section.


 

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