FamilyLife Blended®

Ron L. Deal

Summer Sleepover—Listen to Their Pace

May 17, 2017

It’s time for the extended summer sleepover and if you’re a stepparent, you might feel in some ways like you’re starting over.


Stepparent-stepchild relationships do take “one step backward” if you’ve had little time together through the school year. The extended summer visitation can be a little intimidating. So, take a deep breath and start with what you have. Be sure to listen to their pace. If they pursue time with you, then give it. If they keep their distance and need time to warm up you need to honor that. Find simple ways of connecting, but don’t force yourself on them. With time the summer fun can begin.

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When forgiveness is difficult to do…chop it up.   The Bible calls us to forgive. Sometimes a person is willing to forgive but doesn’t practically know how to, especially if the offense feels like climbing Mt. Everest. When that’s the case, make a list of the individual aspects you’re trying to forgive. Chop it up. Then pray about them. Forgive them one at a time. This makes big offenses manageable. Ask God to help you let it go. That’s always where the process starts and then cross off each individual item. It will help you climb the mountain.  
May 16, 2017
What? Cards, gifts, and acts of kindness for your ex?   Did you hear about the guy who took flowers, cards and a gift to his kids so they could give them to his ex-wife and then he helped them cook her breakfast? He said, “I’m raising two little men. The example I set for how I treat their mom is going to significantly shape how they treat women. Even more so in my case because we are divorced.” Then he added, “So if you aren’t modeling good relationship behavior, get your act together. I don’t care if they don’t deserve it. This is bigger than you.”
May 15, 2017
Okay, stepmoms it’s Mother’s Day and the Pastor has just asked all the moms to stand. Do you stand up?   Well, of course, you do. Stepmothers are mothers, too, right. You have all the responsibilities of caretaking for kids. You cheer them on and sacrifice and provide for them. Of course, you stand up. Why then for many stepmoms is Mother’s Day one of the most awkward days of the year to go to church? You have all the responsibilities so why then do you get overlooked when it comes time for appreciation? I say, not in your world and not in your church. Not anymore.
May 12, 2017
So, with all the complications surrounding a stepmother’s role, just how do you celebrate Mother’s Day?   The answer depends on how well things are going in the home. For the stepmom who has some challenges with her stepchildren expecting them to celebrate her may be unrealistic. So, the honor falls to her husband. Even if your kids don’t join you take your wife out and tell her how much you appreciate how she serves your kids. On the other hand, if the kids do feel comfortable encourage them to write a card, make her breakfast, or take her out to eat. A big “thank you” hug goes a long way, too.
May 11, 2017
Stepparents, have a bonus parent mentality.   At our Summit on Stepfamily Ministry, author and stepdad, Steve Arterburn shared ideas on becoming a bonus parent. He said, If you’re still dating, "Don’t hang around the kids a lot unless you know the relationship with their parent is going somewhere. Once you become their stepparent, act like a benevolent uncle or aunt. Create fun experiences for the family and remember to love their parent in obvious ways. Initially kids are more invested in their parent’s well-being, not necessarily in you."
May 10, 2017
Technology is great but it can keep our together families apart.   Have you ever seen a family driving by and they each have their own headphones on? Or in a restaurant, parents are looking at their phones and ignoring their kids. Hey, it’s okay if you have a little media entertainment time, but keep all things in balance. Parents, we need to orchestrate moments where people put away their devices and engage each other. Life is about relationship, not being entertained 24/7. Technology is great. But make sure family time and love stay central in your home.
May 9, 2017
Are you blindly repeating the patterns of the past?   As I get older I’m more aware of the patterns in my family and how deep they are in me. We say we become more like our parents as we age but maybe we become more aware we’ve always been like our parents. By the way, your spouse and friends have tried to tell you that but you didn’t have ears to hear. Whether it’s a generational family pattern or a behavior you’ve carried from relationship to relationship, stop focusing on and blaming others. Look in the mirror and decide, keep it or change it.
May 8, 2017
Understanding is great but it shouldn’t be the center of your life story.   It’s graduation season. If you were giving the speech, what would you say? Many graduation speeches by famous people have pointed students back to themselves. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple said, “Trust your intuition, and then work with everything you have to prove it right.” I wouldn’t point my graduating son, Brennan, back to himself. I’d let Solomon speak: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
May 5, 2017
Mother’s Day is just around the corner and moms everywhere are looking forward to it, right? Well, some stepmoms are dreading it.   Some stepmoms are celebrated on Mother’s Day but others receive awkward silence. In her book, The Smart Stepmom, Laura Petherbridge writes, “My stepsons call and wish me ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ but we both know I’m not their mom.”  Even still, Laura and other stepmoms want to be acknowledged for how they love their family. But how do kids do that and not feel disloyal to their biological mom? Yeah, it’s sticky alright and uncomfortable. This Mother’s Day, the stepmom in your world needs a hug.
May 4, 2017
Are you becoming the spouse you need to be?   Gail wrote expressing appreciation for our training and then she said, “Clearly, divorce is not part of God’s design for marriage, but when you have divorced and are remarried, that’s all the more reason to make sure you now become the spouse you need to be.” Gail doesn’t want to repeat the past so she moved herself towards being the spouse she needs to be. Not what others are called to be, but specifically who and what she needs to be in her marriage, for her husband, in this blended family.  
May 3, 2017
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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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