PARENTING & THE BLENDED FAMILY
Addressing the 5 Big Issues of Blending a Family
1. STEP-FAMILIES ARE OFTEN CREATED FROM A PAINFUL LOSS EFFECTING BOTH PARENTS AND CHILDREN
There are many reasons why a divorce takes place and no matter what the reason is, when it happens, one or both parents and children are hurt.
For the parent:
If there was a divorce, it is important to understand why it happened, which includes your participation in it, if any.
It is our nature to place blame on others and the truth is in most, NOT all, but most cases, both husband and wife had some input as to why the divorce happened.
If a person is ignorant to what God’s will is as a husband, wife, or parent, how can they honestly examine their own part in the failed marriage?
Matthew 7:2-5, “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Here are 4 important steps to help in the healing process
A. Spend Some Time Investigating what God’s will is for a husband & wife.
If you did not have a good example and you were never discipled in how to be a husband, wife, or parent, then there is a good chance you made some mistakes and have some ownership in the discord of your previous marriage.
To be healed and also to learn not to repeat the same mistakes, you need to take some time and investigate what God’s will is for you as a husband, wife, or parent as you are now going through these parenting materials.
Matthew 7:5 said “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
“…First remove the plank from your own eye…” means to know what your faults were; using the Word of God as your only measuring tool.
I strongly encourage you to take some time and go through a good biblically based marriage study such as our DVD series Marriage is a Ministry (www.parentingministry.org). You will learn what God’s purpose is for marriage and His instructions in how to fulfill your spouse’s companionship needs.
Remember: God created marriage and if we do not look to Him (His Word) for how to do it correctly and instead, lean on our own understanding and do it wrong – this is sin. You can’t ask God to forgive you if you don’t know what it is you did wrong. Also, you don’t want to repeat, in your current marriage, what it is you did in the past marriage.
B. Find healing through Forgiveness:
Christ is the only one who can heal the hurts that are caused by a divorce and/or a spouse who hurt you.
If you want to be healed and move forward, you need to take these steps.
1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We need to confess our sins to the Lord; those things that His Word revealed that was your part in the failed marriage. Can we, as Christians, ever justify our sin because a person has hurt us? NO. Can we justify our sin due to ignorance? NO
Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
We are also instructed to confess our sins to the one we have sinned against.
James 5:16, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
Let me ask you – Do you want to be healed from the pain of the divorce? Remember James 5:16. If we do this we will be healed.
You can do this in a phone call, a letter, or an email. The Word of God is clear – you must ask them to forgive you. If remarried, it is very important to involve your current spouse in this process. You don’t want to promote any jealousy.
C. You also need to be willing to forgive them.
Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
You can do this in the same letter or email where you are asking them to forgive you. To tell them you forgive them does not mean what they did was ok or right. The purpose for forgiving them is for Christ’s sake, to do His will and for your own healing (see Forgiveness & Reconciliation in the Appendices).
D. Seeking Reconciliation with ex-spouse is not always possible.
Matthew 5:23-24, “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.”
Reconciliation with ex-spouse or the child’s other bio-parent means:
- To agree not to speak evil of each other, especially in front of the children.
- To not discuss certain subject matters in front of the children (financial issues, child support, etc.).
- To try and cooperate in the rules and disciplining of the children to minimize the child’s confusion and increase the effectiveness of raising them toward maturity.
- Work together and cooperating where the children are concerned, spending time with other parents, vacation, etc.
Abuse, violence, drugs, alcohol, or they are living a very unhealthy lifestyle; all can contribute to reasons why reconciliation may not be possible.
By not attempting to do this when possible, not only will you not experience this healing from the Lord, in many cases, bitterness will come out in ways that will hurt your children — bad-mouthing the other parent, unwilling to work with other parent and so on. There is no guarantee the other parent will cooperate and/or be reasonable. Your part is to be open to working on it but without compromise.
Hebrews 12:15, “...looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled...”
Those roots of bitterness will spring up and spew poison upon those around you.
- Speaking in an un-honorable way toward the other parent.
- Unwilling to work with them for the children’s sake in scheduling time with the other parent, or setting the rules, and disciplines.
- Your unwillingness to forgive will also make a mockery of your faith. Hypocrisy is Satan’s tool to push our children away from trusting God and breeds rebellion in our children.
When you come to Christ to praise Him, to receive from Him, to ask for His help and blessings, do you want Him to hear you and respond to you?
Remember Matthew 5:23-24 “…go your way. First be reconciled to your brother…” Trusting the Lord means you are willing to obey Him and do what He asks of you. Are you ready? Pray and ask for His grace to help you.
HELPING THE CHILDREN - IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS
Divorce is one of the most devastating things a child can experience. Most children in blended families have experienced some very difficult trials and deep wounds that are all too often not dealt with before they are asked to accept a step mom or dad and maybe step sisters and/or brothers – often the parent seeks out their own emotional support through a relationship before the children had time to adjust and find some healing themselves.
It is very common for children to believe they are responsible in some way; that they are the reason why the divorce took place. They believe if they could have just acted better or helped more in some way then the divorce wouldn’t have happened. It is very important for you to reassure them often that this is not the case. You need to reassure them that their normal misbehaving had nothing to do with the divorce and/or they could not have done anything more to stop the divorce. This reassurance needs to be given with gentleness and the utmost empathy for your child. Some children struggle more and/or longer than others in this area. So if one of your children is taking a longer time working through this, be patient with them and be willing to listen and reassure them with love and truth.
It is also very common for children to be confused over why God would let this happen. The child can not understand that if they love and need both of their parents so much, why is God not stopping this from happening?
HELPING YOUR CHILD WORK THROUGH THIS
A. Help them see things from an eternal perspective.
They need to understand how God’s sovereignty and His providential permission work for His ultimate purpose – even in painful situations. Many parents feel their children need to be at least 12 or older to be able to grasp and understand this truth but I have witnessed young children at the age of 6 be able to grasp this and accept it. The truth is that children can grasp the truth much easier than adults. Yes – the way you explain it to them is very important. A parent needs to present this truth at the child’s level and believe it for themselves.
The word Sovereign means - Possessing supreme power, unlimited wisdom, absolute authority, All-knowing past, present, and future.
Daniel 4:35 (The Message), “At the end of the seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked to heaven. I was given my mind back and I blessed the High God, thanking and glorifying God, who lives forever: “His sovereign rule lasts and lasts, his kingdom never declines and falls. Life on this earth doesn’t add up to much, but God’s heavenly army keeps everything going. No one can interrupt his work, no one can call his rule into question.
Psalm 139:1-18 “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.”
These verses teach that God knows each of us intimately. All of our days were fashioned or created by Him. Before you knew God, or accepted Him as Lord and Savior He knew you and predestined all the days of your life. God gave all of us the gift of freewill. He chose you that you might follow Him, and gave you the freedom to accept or reject Him.
Psalm 139:1-6 (The Message), “God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in!
God has given mankind freedom to do good and the freedom to do evil; that includes doing things their own way. Therefore, the reality is that God’s children live in a fallen world and are often touched by the evil around them that others have caused. If God shielded His children from all evil, allowing only good, the unsaved would only be motivated to turn to Him for the guarantee of an easy life.
You can give your child an example using your own relationship with them. You can say to your child, “If you only told me you love me and do what I ask of you if I give you something like a toy or candy, then you are only doing it for what you can get. That’s not love.”
So, it’s not God who made these bad things happen, but God promises to help you through it.
James 1:13-14 (The Message), “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.
God does not make bad things happen, but when they do happen, He does want to help us.
God is the only one who can heal the broken hearts, so if the child is questioning God, “Why did You make this happen.” Or they are mad at God for this happening; blaming Him, then they are not allowing God to help them and heal their broken hearts.
Matthew 13:15, “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.”
The child needs to be praying for the faith to trust God in His perfect plan in giving all people free will. They also need to pray for God to help them through this difficult time and for Him to heal their broken heart; to respond to those thought that they are to blame in some way with, “No, I am not to blame. God loves me and I did not cause this to happen”.
Reassure your children that God knows the pain they are experiencing and it is His will to help them through this painful ordeal.
B. It is important that they also don’t become bitter at you or the other parent.
Hebrews 12:15, “...looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled...”
This teaches us that if we become bitter at someone this will cause us to become bitter ourselves. We will feel sad, angry, and confused as well as treat others in a bad way.
A good analogy: say there was a berry bush in the back yard and it was poisonous and every time you ate of it, it made you feel really sick. You wouldn’t eat those berries yourself if you wanted someone else to become sick.
It’s the same with anger and bitterness. If they were mad at someone, would they eat those berries themselves, hoping the person they were mad at would suffer in some way? NO – that would be foolish. That’s why God teaches us not to be bitter at others, even if they hurt us, but we are to forgive them because the only one we are hurting is ourselves if we do not.
Becoming bitter and being angry at someone and not forgiving them is like eating those poisonous berries.
Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
Just like God forgiving us for our sins, He tells us we must forgive those who hurt us.
You might have to help them with this prayer: Lord, help me not to be bitter at my dad/mom. Lord, please help me to forgive them and not become angry. In Jesus’ name – Amen
Share with them that forgiveness is the only means of breaking the cycle of blame and suffering, and in many cases destructive, sinful behaviors that stem from these hurts.
Forgiveness offers the way out! It does not settle all questions of blame and fairness, and often evades those questions altogether. It can allow a relationship to start over, and begin anew if possible and heals the wounds caused by others.
The story in the Bible about Joseph found in Genesis is a great Bible Study to help your children see how God works in these painful trials.
This truth is demonstrated in the life of Joseph in Genesis chapters 37-45. Though he was mistreated, betrayed, abandoned by his brothers, sold into slavery, and imprisoned – not because he did anything wrong; all these hurtful things that touched Joseph’s life happened because of bad choices that his father and brothers made. However, He refused to allow the root of bitterness to take hold of his life. Shortly before being reunited with his brothers, he testified of the healing work that God had done in his life during the years of separation, as demonstrated in the naming of his sons. In Genesis 41:51-52 we read:
“Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, ‘For,’ he said, [which means] ‘God has made me forget all my trouble in all my father’s household.’ ”
“He named the second Ephraim, ‘For,’ he said, [which means] ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction...’ ”
To forget in this sense does not mean to cease to remember, but to let go, to cease to let the memory of hurtful things control your present life. Joseph’s blessed life and fruitfulness was directly related to his trusting God and not harboring bitterness. The word resentment means to feel again. Joseph chose to trust God with these painful experiences and his past.
Unforgiveness imprisons us to the past hurts and hinders the potential for a fruitful life.
During Joseph’s years alone in Egypt, he allowed God to heal his heart, which had been broken by his own brothers. Later, when given the opportunity, Joseph extended love, forgiveness, and grace to his brothers. Joseph speaks to them in Genesis 45:5, 7, & 15.
“Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life…and to keep you alive by a great deliverance…He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him.”
Genesis 50:20, “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.”
“…meant it for good…” means God will, as He did with Joseph, take these painful experiences in our life and use them to make us stronger in our faith to Christ.
There was no blaming, no explanations demanded, only the voice of mercy and forgiveness. The way was cleared for Joseph and his brothers to be reunited and begin a new relationship.
Romans 8:28, “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.”
2. HELPING THE CHILD WITH A NEGATIVE PRE-EXISTING DISPOSITION TOWARD STEPPARENT
When a child is still hurting over their parents getting a divorce and/or were hoping that their parents would get back together, many of these children struggle with accepting the new marriage, the stepparent, their authority, or their siblings.
This is why it is so important to help the children work through the forgiveness and healing prior to moving ahead into another marriage relationship.
In some cases, especially with children that are 12 and up, if they don’t want any help and/or choose to hang onto the hurt or bitterness, there is little a parent or parents can do other than pray, be patient, and continue to fulfill their role as a parent.
NOTE: I don’t believe a child should be able to hold their parents hostage and keep them from moving forward into a relationship with someone and getting remarried. However, a parent should allow enough time for a child to work through these things. I suggest a minimum of 1 year.
After you are re-married, exercising patience without compromising your authority and the discipline is very important.
As a step in Dad or Mom, God has called you to be the authority over your children.
Ephesians 6:1-2, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:”
As a step-parent, you needed to accept your God given role in this family when you said, “I Do.” When you got married, you did not only say that to your spouse, you said it to God also. “I do” means, “I take this spouse to tend to him/her according to Your will God.” “I do accept the responsibility as a husband/wife and parent in this family.” “I do accept the authority role to the children that dwell within our home; to love and train them according to Your will.”
When a husband and wife embrace this and together manifest this before their children, this will create the correct reality within the home and the children will eventually yield and embrace it.
Helping the children understand God’s perspective in raising children.
It is important for you, as the parents, to explain to your children the following: As Christians, we are here to do the Lord’s will. God is the Creator of the family and we are looking to Him for how to run our family. His Word teaches that both parents are to work together in the training of the children.
God has defined the authority in the home.
Colossians 3:18-21, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”
The fathers are the head over the homes but the mother is also part of that authority structure over the home. They are to work together in the training up of all the children in the home.
Romans 13:1-2, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”
God is the one who establishes the authority within the home and we need to trust Him. If we don’t, verse 2 says, “…those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” It’s not talking about damnation but more of God’s disciplines, which means; a parent who does not accept this authority or a child who will not yield to it will experience inner turmoil: no joy, no peace, and no contentment. Feelings of confusion, anger, and frustration will fill their hearts and minds; depression will follow.
God’s Word says in 1 Peter 5:5-7 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
- “…Submit yourself to your elders…” includes the stepparent.
- “…God resists the proud…” He allows the internal misery and depression to continue until they yield to Him.
- “…But gives grace to the humble…” Those who accept God’s will; His authority and yields to it, He will bless them and give them the strength to walk according to His will.
- “…casting all your cares upon Him…” If they turn to God, asking for the strength to be healed from the pain of the divorce and accept their parents’ decision, God will give them that inner peace and joy that comes only from Him.
Both parents need to exercise patience.
2 Timothy 2:24-26, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
God gives parents some clear instructions here on how to respond to those children who are struggling in this area:
- “…Not quarrel…” means don’t argue. It takes 2 to argue – use His Word as your defense.
- “…Gentle…” means not being harsh, mean, or in anger; but in love.
- “…Able to teach…” means bringing clarity to the situations. This includes helping them understand why you are an authority within the home. Helping them to understand why they are struggling. Making it clear for them how to find healing from the trials that have touched their life. Also, why their wrong behavior and breaking a particular rule must be disciplined.
- “…Patient…” it’s a process – not in your time. You need to press on & stay consistent.
- “…In humility…” with a humble heart, not acting like you are better than them, but you are equal in God’s sight. You’ve been called & anointed by God to this position; you did not earn it.
- “…Correcting…” means not retreating; you need to accept your authority; follow through and implement the discipline. Not letting the child’s bad attitude or the threat of going to live with the other parent, dictate if you follow through or not. It also means not Disengaging, becoming solitude, or giving up.
NOTE: doing the will of God as a husband, wife, and parent is one of the most powerful things you can do to help them work through this negative pre-existing disposition toward either of you.
Very Important: These principles are not something you cover once. Life’s situations will give you many opportunities to revisit these important biblical principles and apply them toward your parent/child relationship.
3. MAKE SURE THAT THE ‘NO HOME SYNDROME’ DOESN’T HAPPEN TO YOUR CHILDREN
After the divorce, many children find they are living in two separate home environments whereby they are essentially shuffled back and forth between the homes of the biological parents on a weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly schedule.
This can create some difficulty for the child to feel settled and secure in one or both homes. If both parents have remarried and their new step-parents have children, this adds to the difficulty for them to adapt and feel like either of their homes feel like ‘home’.
HERE ARE SOME PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS TO HELP THESE CHILDREN THROUGH THIS
A. Unity in Leadership within the Blended Family Home
It is critical that the leaders (husband & wife) of the blended family are unified and working together according to God’s management style in the home. Biology does not supersede God’s command for the man to lead and the woman to be his helpmate in leading, loving, and training all the children dwelling in the home.
Ephesians 5:30-33, “For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Make a sincere attempt at developing a cooperative parenting plan between your home and the home of the other biological parent. Pray and ask the Lord to impress upon the heart of the other biological parent the long term importance of cooperative parenting with a plan to help in the child’s weekly or monthly transitions between homes.
Don’t let the enemy influence the way you communicate with your ex-spouse in developing and managing the cooperative parenting plan, or any other matter that is better served by both parties participating cooperatively. Do not attempt to dominate your ex-spouse or control all of the decisions you think are important. Make room for cooperation, without compromise.
Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Ephesians 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
C. Home Coming: When the Child Returns from the Other Parents’ Home
Especially with younger children it is important to give particular attention to the child returning from the other home. They may want to share about their adventures, challenges, and disappointments. It is important that you fight the temptation to be jealous of any wonderful adventures they had or to belittle their disappointments. Be a good listener. Rejoice with them when they are rejoicing about special opportunities they were able to experience even if there is unresolved conflict between you and the other parent. Don’t let the unresolved issues between ex-spouses infect your relationship with your children. Be careful to speak only what will edify your child and impart grace to them about the other parent, their habits, their spoiling the child or their mistakes with the child.
If your child reveals that he lives by less godly standards while in the home of the other parent, I suggest you not try and discipline them for something the other parent permitted. Instead, be wise about when and how to disciple your child on these matters as a part of your regular discipleship time with your child. Another helpful thing is to consider a little extra grace for a very short period of time when the child first arrives back in your home. If there is no or very little structure at the other home, you can expect the child to need some time to adjust. For the first day you should use a gentle reminder (once – not two or three times) or warning before you discipline them.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.
Different seasons in the life of the child require different approaches to managing the reconnecting of your relationship with your child after they return from their time with their other parent. You are learning in this study some important insights on how to always communicate in a loving way to your children.
Your child is not a weapon to fight the battles between you and your ex-spouse. Except for extreme circumstances of imminent serious danger to the health of your child, do not use your child as a weapon against your ex-spouse to achieve any of your own goals.
Matthew 5:43-48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Remember: your ex-spouse is not the enemy. Satan is the enemy. How you interact with your ex-spouse should reflect the will of God, not your own will.
Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
There can be many reasons and/or situations why you can bad-mouth or be tempted to use your child as leverage either against or to get something from your ex-spouse, but it is important that you do not do this. It is not only sin, it also hurts your child and fosters these feelings of not belonging.
E. Being Fair in Your Parenting
Many homes of blended families have the presence of step-siblings. In these cases it is important to make certain there are no favorites played on a day-to-day basis. You have made a commitment to God to love and train all of the children He gives to you either through biology or remarriage with no partiality.
1 Timothy 5:21, “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.”
James 2:1 (NIV), “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.
4. FINANCIAL IMPACT
The financial impact of divorce can be significant. Divorce can impact the resources of one parent differently than the other parent. No matter what the reasons for your financial condition, you should employ a financial strategy that protects the child from playing any role in resolving financial differences between you and your ex-spouse.
Also, do not permit any pressure from either your ex-spouse or child to influence you to make unwise financial decisions and deter you from following your financial expense budget you and your spouse have agreed to. Make sure you are employing proper financial planning and maintaining your financial boundaries for the long term financial health of your family.
1 Peter 5:6-9, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
When circumstances arise that impact your budget such as sports, trips, special events, planning for education, cars, and many other possible considerations, it is good practice to prayerfully consider inviting your ex-spouse to participate in a manner that is reasonable. Remember, this is an invitation, not an expectation.
Before you extend the invitation you should have already established a plan for making the final decisions on financial matters based upon factors such as your blended family’s financial condition, the financial practices with the other children in your home, the plan you and your current spouse have agreed upon, and other possible criteria.
In some cases your ex-spouse will not participate for financial, personal, or selfish reasons. This is not a time to inform your child that they will miss the opportunity because of some failure of the other parent. Your communication with your child should not imply anything negative about the other parent or project fault on your ex-spouse for a failure to meet your expectations for financial participation.
Simply communicate your family’s decision regarding the matter without casting dispersion or blame on others.
If a financial situation arises and it is beyond your ability to pay for it entirely, it is ok to let your child know what you can do toward helping and let them (your child) talk with their other biological parent to see if they can pay the rest. Open, honest, and fair is the key to helping your child in these situations.
If the step-father is the primary bread winner in the family and his children are living in the home, it is very important to make sure all the children are treated fairly when it comes to these financial decisions. Those items mentioned above, inheritances, and trusts for your biological children are handled differently and I strongly suggest you seek out good financial planning advice in this area.
5. NEEDING MORE AFFIRMATION DURING ADOLESCENCE FROM THE SAME GENDERED PARENT
Different seasons of emotional growth in the life of the child may bring very natural desires in the child to spend more time with the same gender parent. This is very normal between the ages of 12 and 17 years old. Don’t be offended and/or allow the enemy to cause you to become bitter and treat your child or exspouse in a sinful way.
It is very normal for a young man to desire more time with his father and a young woman to desire more time with her mother. This should not be discouraged. Even if the living arrangements dictate a specific amount of time in each home, be flexible to meet the desires of your child to spend extra time with the other parent as the child grows into adolescence. Resist the temptation to use this change as a bargaining tool against your ex-spouse and become jealous or turn it into a money issue. NOTE: Not if it is a toxic and/or dangerous environment for your child.
Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
This is not a guarantee but an idiom that means: we are to adapt to our children’s needs to love and raise them without compromising the truth.
Remember Ecclesiastes 3:1-8? To everything there is a season…
Be conscious of your child’s sensitivities regarding the ways affection is given to them as they develop into young men and women. The God ordained changes they will experience during the season of adolescence will possibly impact the child in their need to spend more time with a particular parent. Good communication and loving responses to the child’s requests should be the standard here. Don’t be offended. This is a natural season for this change to take place. Instead, look for ways to reinforce your love to the child and be willing to adjust the visitation, if necessary.
Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”