Blend Your Family After Remarriage
- Monday, April 25, 2005
Forgive. Ask God to help you through the process of forgiving your former spouse and others of past wrongs. Know that doing so is crucial for your healing and your family's good health.
Create traditions together. Seek to do fun things together as a family, while maintaining every member's unique personality and style. Keep traditions from your old families that still hold value for you. Create new traditions, as well, to make fresh memories in your new family. Communicate clearly what is expected of everyone, such as attending church together every week.
Overcome resentments. Recognize and admit the ugly emotions you sometimes have toward your stepchildren, for whatever reason. Repent by stopping unhealthy behavior and consciously turning in the opposite direction to do what is right, with God's help. Be proactive about blessing your stepchildren however you can. Look for opportunities to say "yes" to them when they ask you for something. Praise them and show them affection often. Trust that, over time, your bond with your stepchildren will grow.
Unpack old baggage. Get rid of emotional responses from your previous marriage, and other old attitudes and behaviors that don't fit your new family. Pray with your spouse often, seeking to communicate well with God and each other so you can reason together wisely.
Model respect. Let all of your children see you showing respect for your spouse on a regular basis, and have your spouse show the same respect for you. This will motivate the children to treat both of you with respect.
Parent both sets of children equally. Regardless of how you feel about anyone at any given time, treat everyone fairly and equally.
Follow God's design for your household. Know that God wants everyone in your family to submit to His leadership so they can grow. Follow God's established order of authority in a family, in which the buck stops with the husband and father. Respect the fact that husbands should love their wives sacrificially, and that wives should express their thoughts and feelings freely, but still submit to the husband's decision whenever an agreement can't be reached about a particular issue. Let your love for God motivate you to submit to His design for your family.
Deal with stepsibling rivalry. Give each child plenty of one-on-one attention. Assure them that they will not lose their place in your family. Let them know that your act of embracing their new stepbrother or stepsister doesn't mean that you're rejecting them. Give them a tangible understanding of their importance and reaffirm your love for them. Try to meet each child's needs without neglecting the others.
Be peaceable toward your ex-spouse. Look past any grievances you might have with your former spouse, and decide to demonstrate respect and love toward him or her, no matter what. Rely on God to help you do so, and trust that taking the high road will lead to healing in your current family.
Maintain consistency amid changes. Understand that, even if your children or stepchildren are only in your home part time, you and your spouse are full-time parents. No matter what the logistics of your children's visitations, keep the same standards and rules. Know that doing so provides much-needed stability and security for the kids. Have a bed for each child in your home, whether or not the beds are used all the time. Allow the kids some transition time once they return from visiting their other parent's home.
Don't use gifts or special outings to try to manipulate your children to like you more than your former spouse or decide to spend more time with you. When planning how to spend holidays and vacations, consider what's truly best for the children rather than just what you would personally like the most. Consistently demonstrate love for your children, at all times and in all situations.
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