FamilyLife Blended®

Ron L. Deal

Pushing Away

August 9, 2018

Have you ever found yourself pushing away someone who means a lot to you? What’s that about?

When we feel insecure in a relationship we sometimes push the other person away so we don’t get hurt. One dad wrote to me, “I have a fear of trusting my new wife. So I push her away and at the same time I draw my kids closer.” In a blended family when one spouse draws close to their kids, to the detriment of their marriage, we have a big problem. So, what should this guy do? He should ask God for help to find out what he’s afraid of and start loving in spite of the risk with his whole heart.

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Public embarrassment and humiliation, is not a good form of punishment. When Kelsey turned 13 she and her mother celebrated by getting highlights in her shoulder-length hair. But later her dad and stepmom chopped off Kelsey’s hair for getting the highlights. We don’t know why. The pictures and Kelsey’s humiliation sparked outrage online. Okay, I don’t know every side to this story, but what I do know is that a child was hurt in the crossfire of former spouses. Please don’t do that to your kids. And somebody, please give the Kelsey’s of the world a hug.
August 8, 2018
Blended families…this is us. Occasionally I get a look from a pastor or church leader like, “Why should we need to start a stepfamily ministry? Well, listen to these stats. The “Sandwich generation” couples—they have at least one parent still living and children of their own--now, for the first time, over half have either a stepparent or stepchild relationship--52%. And for sandwich couples under 55 the rate goes up to 62%. Increasingly blended families are going to be the norm of the future. Blended families, this is us.
August 7, 2018
Why can’t I see about me, what others see? Humans have an uncanny ability to justify their own behavior. Have you noticed that in others? Of course, not in yourself. Proverbs 30 tell us that the adulteress eats, wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.” What allows her—and us—to do this is a lack of humility. Humility readies our heart to be convicted by the Holy Spirit and without it, we can justify anything. Why not spend 10 seconds asking God to give you a humble heart. Then see about yourself what you previously couldn’t see.
August 6, 2018
Hey, in your opinion, what fast-food restaurant has the best customer service?   Customer service varies. In one restaurant, they smile and eagerly serve, while the next one does the opposite. Proverbs 11 suggests, “A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.” Simple kindness goes a long way whether we’re talking customer service or relationships. Try this experiment. For the next 24 hours, treat everyone in your home with kindness and see if it doesn’t bring benefit to you, too.
August 3, 2018
Now here’s one trap you don’t want your family to fall into: playing favorites.   Whether it’s the workplace, politics, or game shows we expect life to be fair. One Old Testament family who struggled with this is Rebekah, in Genesis 27, who favored her younger son, Jacob, over his older brother, Esau. On occasion, biological parents in blended families might be tempted to favor their child over their stepchild. Often it’s a subtle difference that says, “You’re mine and you’re not.”  Make a better statement. We’re all in this thing together. Treat everyone the same.                       
August 2, 2018
Don’t rely on your judgment. Pray.   A dating couple in their early 40’s shared, “Ron, we want to get married, but some of our kids are opposed to it. What do we do?” Well, I don’t know specifically what the answer is for you but I do know getting married when a child—of any age—is strongly against it, is a bad idea. I also know extended dating makes managing sexual tension challenging. Ultimately, you’re caught between your desire for a spouse and what creates a safe environment for your kids. That’s why you must pray. And pray.
August 1, 2018
Their all-too familiar story made my heart sink.   Her children were suffering under the bully behavior of his kids. But dad and stepmom knew what was behind this. His former spouse had nothing good to say about their stepmom or her kids. Her venom turned her kids into bullies. If your children move between two homes, don’t make them little soldiers in your war of insecurity. If you do, they and everyone they touch will likely suffer great emotional wounds on the field of battle. Love them freely. Give them freedom to love others besides you.
July 31, 2018
I watched one fail; I watched one succeed.   “My parents divorced when I was 11,” the blogger explained. “It shattered my world. My mom’s remarriage was hard to accept at first, but this blended family has become very special to me. And my mom’s marriage taught me that love can last. I watched one marriage fail; I watched one marriage succeed.” Children of divorce don’t want to repeat the past. Sometimes they lose faith in the institution of marriage but a healthy stepfamily marriage can restore faith in God’s design for the family.
July 30, 2018
Today on FamilyLife Blended, I’m talking to everyone not in a blended family.   I’ve talked about things stepparents can do to move their stepparent-stepchild relationships in a positive direction. But there’s something the rest of us can do. As it turns out, a strong supportive social network buffers the challenges stepparents and stepchildren face and helps them see each other as family. When an extended family member speaks highly to a stepchild about the stepparent or when someone from church compliments the family and helps them care for one another—that all helps.
July 27, 2018
Who knew conflict, can be a turning point for good?   Turning points are moments that improve stepparent-stepchild relationships. Now, there is nothing instant about this. But when researchers asked adult stepchildren, looking back, how things got better, they discovered that conflict can bring about good. Not the conflict itself, of course, but when a stepparent showed a commitment to work it out—and when apologies were offered and forgiveness sought it carried their relationship forward.
July 26, 2018
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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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