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

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 Part 5: Favoritism and Other Four-Letter Words + LINKUP

 

We've been talking about the challenges blended families face and also some of the ways their struggles are common to us all. Today we're going to look at one of the biggest issues parents, step-parents, and children face when two families become one ... favoritism. - We've been talking about the challenges blended families face and also some of the ways their struggles are common to us all. Today we're going to look at one of the biggest issues parents, step-parents, and children face when two families become one ... favoritism.

 

Blended Families Part 5: Favoritism and Other Four-Letter Words

 

We’ve been talking about the challenges blended families face and also some of the ways their struggles are common to us all. Today we’re going to look at one of the biggest issues parents, step-parents, and children face when two families become one … favoritism. We’ll also look at the need to view the blended family as one and how to avoid having a child-centered home.

In the last blog, I said the overarching goal of blending a family and for all of life is to please God (2 Cor. 5.9)—not to get along, not to have our needs met, not to feel loved or appreciated, but to please God.

I also discussed the importance of biblically loving one another, rather than merely getting along or even liking each other (Blended Families Part 3). And last week I started discussing the priority of the husband and wife relationship (Blended Families Part 4). Today we’ll look at some specific ways we can strengthen the marriage relationship, even while handling tough parenting issues.

 

Joe’s & Liz’s Story

 

Do you remember Joe and Liz (Blended Families Part 4)? Week-ends were rough with the added dynamic of Joe’s son from his previous marriage. How might they plan to have a better week-end the next time Joe’s son is with them?

 

Praying Together for God’s Wisdom

 

James 1.2-8 says:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

God promises to give wisdom to those who ask in faith and have a heart that’s willing to obey. And later in his epistle James added, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (Jas. 4.2). Parents in blended families need wisdom and, yet, how often do we actually stop and ask?

Failure to ask for God’s help and wisdom is foolishness, at best, and more often a form of pride, since we’re really saying, “Lord, I don’t need Your help. I can figure this out for myself!” It’s so easy to think the way that seems right to us is the right way. But Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14.12). Whether we’re faced with a stressful, potentially mine-filled week-end or just day-to-day events, we should be praying regularly for God’s wisdom.

 

Family Not Families

 

It’s important to see your family as one and your children as yours jointly and to prayerfully make decisions as a team. Practice taking time to talk over issues, in advance, considering the needs of all the children and your family as a whole. It’s especially important not to make special rules for children who aren’t in the household full time or to favor your biological children over your step-children.

 

Favoritism … The Other F-Word

 

Favoritism is quite possibly the biggest destroyer of the blended family. It weakens the husband and wife relationship, hinders the step-parent’s relationship with the other children, and leads to anger and bitterness. And, ironically, it often hurts the favored child as much as anyone else. Trust me on this one; it will create chaos and can drive a wedge between family members faster than you can imagine.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 4: The Goal of Life + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 4: The Goal of Life - When blending a family the goal of life is always the same, not to get along, not to have our needs met, not to feel loved or appeciated, but to please God.

 

Blended Families Part 4: The Goal of Life

 

In previous posts (see list at bottom) we’ve looked at some of the problems that are often present in blended families. We’ve talked about taking the logs out of our own eyes so we can see clearly. We’ve looked at some of God’s promises and, in the last blog, we talked about changing our goal from liking each other to loving each other with God’s kind of love. But there’s an even bigger goal that needs to become our number one priority. Paul talked about it in 1 Corinthians 5.9:

9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.

Our primary goal individually and as a family should be to please God—not to get along, not to have our needs met, not to feel loved or appreciated, but to please God. We please God by becoming more like His Son (Matt. 3.17; Rom. 8.29), by obeying His Word, and by making His priorities our priorities.

Psalm 128.1-4 (NLT) says:

1 How joyful are those who fear the LORD—
all who follow his ways!
2 You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
How joyful and prosperous you will be!
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine,
flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees
as they sit around your table.
4 That is the LORD’s blessing
for those who fear him.

The Lord’s blessings are contingent on fearing God and walking in His way. Isaiah 43.7 says we were created for His glory. Whatever we do, including blending a family is to be done in a way that brings Him glory.

 

What is “His way” concerning the family?

 

It starts with the husband and wife relationship. Genesis 2.18, 24:

18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

The man and the woman are to leave their parents and be joined to their spouse in a covenant of companionship. The parent-child relationship is a temporary one. That means we’re not only to leave our parents, but we’re to be preparing our children to leave our home one day.

The husband and wife relationship is to be permanent and given priority. The one flesh relationship is much more than just sexual, it’s a bonding of two lives: physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, and socially.

When the Apostle Paul gave instructions for the Christian family, he first addressed our relationship with God, then the husband-wife relationship, and then the parent-child relationship (Col. 3.16-21; Eph. 5.15-33, 6.1-4). The husband-wife relationship is to be second only to our relationship with God.

The husband and wife are to be a unit, functioning together as a team, making decisions and working to solve problems together.

But, sadly, in many blended families, biological parents side with their children in disputes, are more permissive with them, and grow to have an us versus him or her mentality.

A biological parent may believe the step-parent is harsh or lacks understanding. All of this can be complicated by shared custody, different parenting styles, angry or manipulative children, feelings of guilt over a divorce, or a general lack of understanding about biblical principles.

One step-mother’s experience (the names and some of the details have been changed):

“Monday through Friday things are pretty calm. But come Friday night when Joe picks up his son, Jesse, everything changes. Jesse is younger than my two children, so they’re expected to let him have his way. I’m not allowed to discipline him because his mother wouldn’t like it. He’s a picky eater, so he usually demands something special for meals, often requiring a trip to the store. The whole week-end is structured around what Jesse wants. He stays up late, is over-tired the next day, and whines when things don’t go his way. My children are hurt and angry and I usually end up taking them to the movies or out for pizza just to keep the peace. Joe and I both end the week-end exhausted. I got married so Joe and I could share the load, but I feel like I do everything I always did, plus trying to keep conflict to a minimum. On top of everything else our relationship is suffering. We don’t talk because we just end up arguing and we don’t have the energy to do anything else.”

Joe’s story:  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 3: Loving Not Liking Each Other + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 3: Loving Not Liking Each Other -

So you met that guy or gal and you thought … “Life was going to be wonderful!” You loved each other, so you were sure everything else would just work out. You knew there would be some adjustments, but you weren’t prepared for what has happened. It seems like conflict has broken out on every front and no one seems to even like each other anymore to say nothing about love!

 

Blended Families Part 3: Loving Not Liking Each Other

 

In part 1 I talked about the losses that many members of blended families have faced. Understanding those losses can increase our understanding and patience and lead to great gains.

Blended Families Part 1: The Losses & the Gains

And in part 2 I shared that while blended families have unique problems, the root issues are the same as those we all face. I also shared an incredible promise from God’s Word that applies to blended and biological families alike.

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Different


Ready-Made Families

 

This week we’ll look at the incredible opportunity we have in blended families to demonstrate God’s love, beginning right now, even in the midst of the turmoil and strife.

In some ways it’s understandable that problems surface. You see … in biological families love grows naturally over a period time. Mutual attraction, shared interests, and loving feelings draw a couple together and, hopefully, continue to grow as the marriage progresses. Children arrive and their parents fall in love with them as they hold them, care for them, and nurture them through infancy and childhood. Children’s feelings for their parents form naturally, as well.

But in a blended family, couples marry and then realize their “ready-made” family has all the problems, personality issues, and pressures of other families, plus some, without the bonds of affection and loyalty that naturally form over time.

Instead, those bonds often exist only between the husband and wife. Children are expected to welcome new siblings and another parent into their lives without any real bonding, in many cases. And step-parents may find it hard to like children who are often hostile or indifferent. Before long it can even put a strain on the husband and wife relationship.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Different + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Differednt -

Blended families are everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. But while our problems may be unique in their details, the heart issues involved are much the same as those individuals and all families face.

 

Blended Families Part 2: “The Same Only Different”

 

In part 1, we talked about some of the very real losses that members of step families face and the importance of examining our own attitudes, actions and desires. Understanding those losses can help us become more understanding and asking God to help us examine our own actions is vitally important and an essential first step in the process of growth and change.

 

Charlatans & Frauds

 

Matthew 7.3-4 says:
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?(NLT)

Jesus was very descriptive in this passage, wasn’t He? My paraphrase is, “Who do you think you are, trying to get a speck out of someone else’s eye when you can’t see past that giant log in your own?” Then He starts the next verse with the words, “You hypocrite …!” (v. 5).

Two synonyms for the word hypocrite are charlatan and fraud. The Encarta Dictionary defines it as, “somebody who pretends to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behaves otherwise.”

When we preach doing right to our family members and then respond in sinful, unloving ways, we’re playing the hypocrite! We’re frauds!

 

Why is this so important?

 

James, chapter 1:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

“Deceiving yourselves.” There is delusion, spiritual blindness, that occurs when we fail to examine our hearts and actions by looking into the mirror of God’s Word with a view to obeying it. We can respond selfishly and sinfully to others while believing we’re completely justified.

We face enough challenges in blended families, why add spiritual blindness to the list? But by looking into that mirror and being a doer of it, there is blessing.

And Hebrews 5 says:
14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

We have the ability to discern good and evil; that is we have wisdom, when we practice doing what’s right. So the difference between removing our own logs and being a doer of the Word, as opposed to being a hearer and not a doer, is the difference between delusion and wisdom.

By the way, James, the writer of the book by the same name, was the half-brother of Jesus. There were other siblings, too (Mk. 6.3), and Joseph was His step-father. That makes Jesus part of a blended family. More about His earthly family and other blended Bible families later.

But there is something else we need to understand about being a hypocrite or a fraud. When we tell others, particularly our children and step-children, they must respond one way (loving, kind, accepting, patient, etc.) and we do something else, we’re completely discrediting ourselves and end up provoking our children to anger (Eph. 6.4; Col. 3.21). It’s hard to imagine anyone not resenting a fraud and children are no different.

 

Unique Yet the Same

 

In part 1, I stressed the fact that blended families face some unique challenges, and that’s certainly true. But while our problems may be unique in their details, the heart issues involved are much the same as those all individuals and all families face.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 1: “The Losses and the Gains”+ LINKUP

 

Blended Families: Part 1 "The Losses & the Gains" + LINKUP - Blended families—they're everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. They also face the everyday problems of living with other sinners in a world that's been damaged by sin.

 

Blended Families Part 1: “The Losses and the Gains”

 

Blended families—they’re everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. They also face the everyday problems of living with other sinners in a world that’s been damaged by sin.

When couples remarry after death or divorce, one or both may bring children from previous marriages into their new family unit. Sometimes there are children from multiple marriages and, even, other relationships outside of marriage.

They also bring different parenting styles, different traditions, different levels of spiritual maturity, and different expectations. Sometimes, those expectations can be unclear, even unrealistic.

Many of us grew up watching TV shows like The Brady Bunch and Step by Step where blended family issues could be handled during a 30-minute TV show. And engaged couples who’ve been struggling with single-parent issues like loneliness, financial difficulties, and the hazards of the dating scene can view remarriage as the answer to all their problems and be blind-sided by the reality of blending a family.  Continue reading

Blended Families Series + LINKUP

 

Blended Families + LINKUP - I'll be talking about the common issues and challenges, offering some solutions, and providing resources to help. If you're not a blended family, I'm sure you know someone who is. The first post will start in the next linkup.Life has been a little hectic for me. We just finished getting the flooring redone in our whole house (a huge blessing, the carpeted areas were in terrible shape), but for all of you who have done major redo’s you know it’s a lot of work to get ready for it, and lots more to get everything back in place. Along the way you find all kinds of things that need to be updated or redone just to get things back to normal … lots of painting and patching.

Getting ready for it was a little like moving with no place to go. We packed everything we could and moved it to our garage (along with our bed). Even thought it’s finished and has air conditioning, it’s a little like sleeping in a warehouse. About as close to camping out as I like (sorry all you campers).

Now we’re cleaning up from all the tile demolition and waiting to put things back in place until the new baseboards are in.

I said all that to say … I don’t have a book review for this week. I need to spend what time I have preparing to teach DivorceCare on Sundays at my church and starting a new ladies Bible study this Thursday. So for the next few Mondays I’m rerunning a series I did a couple of years ago on “Blended Families.”  Continue reading