Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households + LINKUP

 

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Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households

 

If you missed last week’s post on the importance of seeking forgiveness for your part in any conflict, I would encourage you to read it. It’s so important that we do our part to live at peace with everyone, including our ex-spouses.

This week in “Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households,” we’ll look at how to deal with the different rules and expectations between your house and that of your ex. We’ll also talk about how God can use it all for good.

Click here for previous posts in this series.

 

Different Rules & Expectations

 

Struggles over different rules and expectations from one household to another are some of the biggest and most frequent problems blended families and single divorced families face. If you’ve been divorced for any length of time, you’ve probably faced challenges in this area.

While parents may feel very strongly about their own rules, differences are not necessarily sinful, or even wrong, they are just different. If something is clearly immoral or illegal, you should involve the proper authorities. Otherwise, you should seek to accept one another’s differences.

Surprisingly, children can adjust to differing sets of rules. And since Philippians 2.3-4 says that we are to prefer others rather than ourselves, it’s wrong to insist that our rules be followed at the other parent’s home.

 

So on a practical level, how do you deal with differences in a God-honoring way?

 

Suppose you ask you son to turn off the TV and do his homework and he responds, “Dad lets me watch TV first.” You can just gently and firmly say, “That’s at dad’s house, now turn off the TV and do your homework.” No commentary needed.

Your ability to do it in a way that glorifies God will depend on your thinking. If you immediately think, “I can’t believe my ex is that irresponsible!” or “Why doesn’t he respect my rules?” it will show up in your attitude both with your son and your ex.

1 Corinthians 13.7 says, “love believes all things.” It might be better translated “love believes the best.” You can choose to believe the best about your ex. Watching TV first doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about your son’s homework, it just means he’s handling things differently.

We also have to learn to recognize the difference between our rules and God’s commandments. While you may think doing homework first is wiser, it’s your rule, not God’s commandment.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 12: Seven A’s of Confession + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 12: Seven A's of Confession - In last week's post, Blended Families Part 11: How to Start Dealing with Ex's, we talked about some of the reasons for conflict and the beginning steps of working toward a better relationship with an ex-spouse. We discussed the need to first seek God's help to have the right heart attitude and then to do some self-examination.

Blended Families Part 12: Seven A’s of Confession

 

In last week’s post, Blended Families Part 11: How to Start Dealing with Ex’s, we talked about some of the reasons for conflict and the beginning steps of working toward a better relationship with an ex-spouse. We discussed the need to first seek God’s help to have the right heart attitude and then to do some self-examination (Matt. 7.3-5).

I suggested making a “log list” of ways you’ve sinned against your ex without focusing on what he or she has done or not done.

This week in “Blended Families Part 12: Seven A’s of Confession,” we’ll look at the next step.

Click here for previous posts in this series.

 

Seeking Peace Starts with You

 

God puts a high priority on peace and reconciliation in our relationships.

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone (Rom. 12.18 NLT).

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matt. 5.23-24).

He doesn’t say seek peace with everyone but your ex, but rather do “all that you can” to live at peace with “everyone.” Certainly, there are some people who won’t be at peace with us, but unless there is some reason (like physical abuse or safety issues), we should be willing to do our part.

The next step is seeking forgiveness for the things on your log list.

This can be challenging if you believe your ex-spouse is the one who should be asking for forgiveness, but remember, you are only responsible for you. What the other person has done is between them and God.

 

Seeking Forgiveness God’s Way

 

Seeking forgiveness requires three things: repentance, confession, and asking.

Repentance is a change of thinking that leads to a change of action. Confession is to agree with what God says about something and asking is more than saying, “I’m sorry.” It is a sincere request to be released from a debt.

 

The Seven A’s of Confession

 

Peacemaker Ministries explains what’s involved in a biblical confession:

  1. Address Everyone Involved. As a general rule, you should confess your sins to every person who has been directly affected by your wrongdoing. Note that since all sins offend God by violating His will, all sins should be first confessed to Him.
  2. Avoid If, But, and Maybe. The best way to ruin a confession is to use words that shift the blame to others or that appear to minimize or excuse your guilt.
  3. Admit Specifically. Specific admissions help convince others that you are honestly facing up to what your have done.
  4. Acknowledge the Hurt. Your goal is to show that you understand how the other person felt as a result of your words or actions. Although you should not dwell excessively on feelings, it is important to show that you understand how other people feel and to express genuine sorrow for hurting them.
  5. Accept the Consequences. The harder you work to make restitution and repair any damage you have caused, the easier it will be for others to believe your confession is genuine.
  6. Alter Your Behavior. Explain to the person how you plan to change your behavior in the future. This could involve describing some of the attitude, character, and behavior changes you hope to make with God’s help.
  7. Ask for Forgiveness (and Allow Time). Ask, “Will you forgive me?” Be willing to allow the person some time to work through things.

 

Examples of biblical confessions:

“I realize I have not been treating you fairly and I want to change. Specifically, I have made it hard for you to pick up the kids and I have frequently brought them to your house late, cutting into your time with them. I plan to make every effort to have them there on time and ready when you to pick them up at my house. I’d like to make it up to you by allowing you to have them for Thanksgiving, even though it’s my turn. I want you to know that I’m sincere and I hope to prove it to you. Will you forgive me?”

“I want to ask forgiveness for lying about you in court. I told the judge that you were not a good mother/father. I also lied about how much money I make. I have damaged your reputation and cheated you out of child support. I plan to write the judge a letter and I will give a copy to you and both of our lawyers so the child support can be adjusted. Will you please forgive me?”

Some of you probably gasped when you read the second one. Taking responsibility for things like that runs contrary to the adversarial nature of the divorce process. But we are called to live radical lives … radically pleasing to God. And remember part of sincere repentance includes a willingness to accept the consequences of our actions.

 

Push Back from Your Current Spouse

 

Even though you may be convinced of the necessity of confession and restitution, your current spouse may or may not be completely on board, especially where either contact with your ex or financial repercussions are concerned.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 11: How to Start Dealing with Ex’s + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 11: How to Start Dealing with Ex'es - This week we'll begin talking about the prickly subject of dealing with ex's. Over the next couple of weeks we'll discover some things that may improve relationships so you can better co-parent your children and find out how to respond biblically when he or she isn't willing to work with you. In this post we'll look at some of the precipitating factors and talk about where to start.

Blended Families Part 11: How to Start Dealing with Ex’s

 

In last week’s post, “Behavior Contracts,” we talked about two tools for more successful and biblical parenting, “behavior contracts” and “think papers.” By the way, both are great tools for any family, not just blended ones.

This week in “How to Start Dealing with Ex’s,” we’ll begin talking about the prickly subject of dealing with ex-spouses. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll discover some things that may improve relationships so you can better co-parent your children and find out how to respond biblically when your ex isn’t willing to work with you. In this post we’ll look at some of the precipitating factors for this kind of conflict and talk about how to start working through the issues.

Click here for previous posts in this series.

 

A Lethal Combination of Guilt, Anger & Bitterness

 

Dealing with relationships with ex-spouses is often one of the most difficult challenges for a blended family. Although some formerly married couples are able to work out their differences and successfully co-parent their children, many find their attempts filled with conflict.

These conflicts can result in arguments over visitation, rules at each others’ homes, child support, and a host of other issues. Children are often expected to take sides, carry messages back and forth, and report back about what’s going on when they are with the other parent. Children can become casualties in a war that seems to never end.

Depending on who wanted or caused the divorce (at least in the eyes of the other person), ex-spouses can be filled with bitterness or guilt, anger or hurt or any combination.

A person who left may suffer guilt that causes them to continue trying to prove they were right in leaving. This results in constant complaining and criticizing.

The person who’s been sinned against may be angry and begrudge the other any happiness. He or she may hope the other one will finally realize what a huge mistake they made or somehow have to pay for their “crimes.” Their anger may not just be about how they have been hurt, but about how their children have been hurt, too.

Sometimes the conflict began during the former marriage, possibly even going on for years leading up to the divorce. Sometimes conflict comes to the surface when a former mate remarries.

In some cases, the anger, bitterness or guilt drains energy that should be going into a new marriage. In other cases, one spouse may spend a great deal of time and effort trying to appease the former spouse and keep peace at any cost. Both can create problems in a new marriage.

Guilt and anger can both cause problems in relationships with children and step-children. Guild may cause a biological parent to over-indulge their own children and/or be cold and indifferent, even harsh to their step-children.

Anger can be directed at children who want to live with or spend more time with the other parent. Some ex-spouses lay a big dose of guilt on children who start building a relationship with their step-parent.

No matter what combination of guilt, anger, bitterness or jealousy are driving the conflicts, God expects us to do our part to resolve the issues and respond in ways that are pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5.9).

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matt. 5.23-24).

 

Where do you start?

 

It starts with you!

First, get your heart right. No matter how you’ve been sinned against or how often, God intends to use it for good in your life.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8.28-29).

When Joseph was reunited with his brothers after years spent as a slave and in prison because of their sin, he said:

19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Gen. 50)

 

Do Some Self-Examination

 

Second, examine yourself to see where you may be guilty of causing or aggravating conflict.

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matt. 7)

Make a list of your own logs. Pray for God’s help, be brutally honest with yourself and Him. To do this effectively, you can’t minimize your part, blame-shift to your ex, or justify your sins.

Some possible logs:  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 10: Behavior Contracts + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 10: Behavior Contracts + LINKUP

Blended Families Part 10: Behavior Contracts

 

In last week’s post, “A Plan for Successful Step-Parenting,” we talked about beginning to plan for more effective step-parenting, starting with better communication between you and your spouse and working on a “behavior contract” for each child when age appropriate. Today we’ll talk about how to have a family conference and introduce the behavior contract to your children. We’ll also discuss how to get older children and teens to use a “think paper” to examine their own hearts and actions. (By the way, “behavior contracts” and “think papers” are great for all families, not just blended ones.)

Click here for previous posts in this series.

Last week I said that many parents in blended families (and all families) spend too much of their time putting out fires and dealing with bad behavior. Let’s look at our 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).

More than merely dealing with bad behavior, parents should be instructing their children in right ways of living and responding. Rather than just trying to control their behavior, we should be teaching them to control themselves.  “Bringing them up” means helping them understand how to live under God’s authority and gain a desire to please Him.

Last week I introduced a “behavior contract” as a tool that can be useful in that plan.

Remember, 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 so we don’t exasperate them with unclear expectations and inconsistency.

I suggested you start by making a list of the strengths and weaknesses of each child, list character qualities that need to be developed, and come up with appropriate rewards and consequences. From those lists you can work with your spouse to develop a behavior contract for each child.

Example for a 15-year-old boy:

behavior-contract

Notice, rewards are not always material things. Remember, the goal is to learn to live under God’s authority with a genuine desire to please Him.

 

Introducing the Behavior Contract to Your Children

 

Once you and your spouse have worked up a behavior contract for each child (you may have to simplify it for younger children), sit down as a family. If necessary, confess your own failures to be consistent, provide clear expectations, or any other way that you have sinned against them.

Let them know that you have confessed your failures to God (providing you have) and that you have a plan to change with His help. Explain the goal of parenting and that you will answer to God for your faithfulness in this area. Take a few minutes to pray as a family. You may want to read Ephesians 6.1-4 together.

teen-girlThen meet with each child and review their lists of strengths and weaknesses. Spend as much time praising them for their strengths as you do talking about their weaknesses. Explain the behavior contract and go over each item.

If the child has some suggestions to which you can agree, make those changes. But this is not a negotiation, you are the parents and you are not required to make changes that you don’t believe are beneficial.

Post the contract in a prominent place and take a few days to teach and implement it before beginning the consequences. When it’s necessary to give consequences, remind the child that consequences result from their choices. Forgetting is not an excuse. Consistency is key. It’s not the severity of the consequences, but the certainty of correction that brings results.  Continue reading

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

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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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