FamilyLife Blended®

Ron L. Deal

Preparing to Be Family

July 5, 2018

You prepare to drive a car, right? So why not prepare to be a family?


You’ve heard me say that a healthy stepfamily is s redemptive organism of God’s grace, but that a fractured stepfamily just adds salt to the wounds. So why is it that most pre-stepfamily couples don’t prepare for life after the wedding? About two-thirds don’t discuss parenting and others don’t prepare the kids for the transition. Preparation is key to starting out right. Visit us online and download our free First Year Survival Guide. Learn what it takes to have a good blend.

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We are dissolving our political bonds; we are now thirteen United States of America.   That’s what Thomas Jefferson declared on July 4th, 1776. “We,” he said, “…declare that these United Colonies are…Free and Independent States; they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown…” And with that, ties were cut and a country was born. As you celebrate our country’s birthday with those you love share a hot-dog toast to the committed men and women of the U.S. military. Let’s remember, “In God we trust” is how it all started; it’s up to us to keep it there.
July 4, 2018
Hey, sounds like family to me.   “My stepdaughter of 30 years hurt my feelings again. It was minor, but I thought, ‘When is this ever going to change?' I know no family is perfect, but I still think this will get better. It just doesn’t feel like we’re family.” I know it's frustrating that it’s not your definition of what family should be, but it’s family. If it helps, I hear a lot of biological moms feel the same way—“My kids don’t need me anymore.” “My son never calls.” I think maybe you’re more “family” than you realize.
July 3, 2018
Do you always give your best?   Have you ever given someone second best, because you were pressured to do something nice for them? Well, not Jesus. In John 2 in the Bible, we find him at a wedding. When the wine runs out his mom wants him to make more. She knows he can, and she persists. So, he turns water into wine. Good wine! In those situations, I’m tempted to give second best and do it begrudgingly. But not Jesus. He gives the best. Let’s be like this because when grace gives its best, others notice—and they drink it in.
July 2, 2018
Have you ever started into a project and discovered that it was harder than you anticipated?  Well, sometimes, relationships are just like that.   Danny had no idea how hard it would be to love his wife. “She has so many emotional scars from her past. We’ve been together for nine years and I’m still trying to find a way around her insecurities.” Maybe you felt frustrated trying to love someone and not knowing how to help heal their scars. I certainly don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all solution for things like this, but I do think a stubborn grace and steadfast love are two of the things that seem to help a lot.
June 29, 2018
I’m not sure why, but when family life changes, sometimes, the church doesn’t.   Often a company goes out of business because it didn't adapt to change. Well, I fear many churches have not adapted to how families have changed. For the first time in American history, less than half of teens in the U.S. live with their married biological parents and half of all kids will have a stepparent at some point in their life. Yet, rarely do churches have a single parent ministry or a blended family ministry. To lead people to where they need to be, you have to meet them where they are.
June 28, 2018
Where there’s a taker, there’s a giver.   Many parent educators are worried that a sense of entitlement is pandemic in children today. Let’s just recognize there are two sides to this: Takers need givers. Proverbs 30:15 says the leech is never satisfied, it says “Give, Give.” You have to set limits. They won’t. So, fight the pressure to give your kids what everybody else seems to have and don’t let your insecurity or guilt over your family situation get the best of you. Instead, give your kids the gift of “That’s enough. Do without.”
June 27, 2018
Do you ever try to look all put together in church?   On a public forum, Diane offered her thoughts on sin and feeling ashamed at church. She said, “It’s risky to be vulnerable. We try not to open old wounds and bleed in public. We try to look whole in church.” I can relate to that. Nobody likes to bleed in front of others and face their judgment. But in my experience when we reveal our wounds, we discover everyone else has some, too. And the next thing you know, the power of the gospel and the community of God is healing the wounds and shame.
June 26, 2018
Success can be a bad thing.   In Genesis 40, Joseph, with God’s help, interprets the dreams of the chief cupbearer and baker. In chapter 41 Pharaoh asks Joseph to interpret his dream and he says, “I have heard…you can…” Joseph replies, “It is not in me…but God can…” Joseph didn’t let success go to his head. He stayed dependent on God. Self-confidence is highly prized in our culture but unrestrained confidence leads to self-importance, boasting, and acting independent of God. No, stay humble and reliant on the One who can.
June 25, 2018
Have you ever had someone treat your child unfairly? Did the hair on the back of your neck stand up like it did on mine?   Mistreat a child and you’ll awaken a parent’s protectiveness. But what if it’s coming from your spouse? Jennifer wrote to me saying her husband uses harsher discipline on her kids than he is on his. Plus her kids have to do chores that his don’t. Stepparents, strive to be equitable in your home. How you spend your time, money, and energy will take into consideration the age and maturity of each child, but there should be an equal playing field. Be even handed with liberty and justice for all.
June 22, 2018
Becoming a stepfamily is in part about welcoming new family members. But it’s also about keeping the old.   A stepparent can be a wonderful asset to a child’s life but they can never replace a parent. Tragically, 40 percent of teenagers with divorced parents have not seen their biological father in five years. How do you suppose a child makes sense of that? What insecurities does that create in their heart? If you’re a mom or dad who’s disconnected from your child could I ask you to reconnect. I realize it’s complicated, but only you can fill what’s missing in your child’s heart. Hey, they need you.
June 21, 2018
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Receive our monthly Strengthening Stepfamilies newsletter as well as the occasional email updating you on stepfamily events and resources.

About FamilyLife Blended®

FamilyLife Blended® provides  biblically-based resources that help prevent re-divorce, strengthen stepfamilies, and help break the generational cycle of divorce.

About Ron L. Deal

Ron L. Deal is the Director of blended family ministries at FamilyLife®, and is the author/coauthor of the books The Smart StepfamilyThe Smart Stepdad, The Smart Stepmom, Dating and the Single Parent, and The Remarriage Checkup. Ron voices the FamilyLife Blended short feature and is one of the most widely read authors on stepfamily living in the country. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist who frequently appears in the national media, including FamilyLife Today® and Focus on the Family, and he conducts marriage and family seminars around the countryRon and his wife, Nan, have been married since 1986 and have three boys.

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