Think carefully before going to court. When considering whether to take legal action over a divisive issue, honestly ask yourself: "Is going to court the best thing for my children?", "Will they be better off, or will it primarily benefit just me?", "Can I afford all the risks and costs involved, and is it worth it?", "Is God leading me to go to court?" and "What other options do I have to settle this issue?"

Teach your children the "three Rs." Equip them with a biblical foundation for succeeding in life by teaching them reverence for God, respect for others, and responsibility.

Make wise financial plans. Eliminate unnecessary financial pressures by talking and praying about your family's finances with your spouse. Honestly evaluate your financial situation, discuss realistic expectations, reach an agreement on your family's goals and how to reach those goals, make a budget, then commit to God and each other to follow it. Be sure to plan for giving, saving, investing, and getting out of debt, as well as regular spending.

Reduce stress through planning. Consider what obstacles you currently have to getting everyone to church, school, work, and activities on time. Think about what battles you have over homework and chores. Then talk and pray with your spouse to come up with a strategy to repair each of these leaks in your family's pipes before they burst.

Save time however you can. Make productive use of your downtime, such as when you're waiting in the parking lot for the kids to get out of school. Use the time to write shopping lists and thank-you notes, return calls on your cell phone, or even study the Bible. Plan and prepare meals in advance whenever possible so you can pull one out of the freezer when you're in a rush. Have each of your kids help with big household chores such as laundry. Buy birthday and Christmas gifts throughout the year to avoid last-minute rushes.

Set healthy boundaries for adult children. Let your adult children know that they're always welcome in your home. But if they ever move in as residents back during a transition period in their lives, make sure their stay is temporary, and make sure they pay rent and clean up after themselves.

Adapted from Tying the Family Knot: Meeting the Challenges of a Blended Family, copyright 2004 by Terri Clark. Published by Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tn.,

Terri Clark is a speaker and freelance writer who, along with her husband Harvey, has successfully blended and raised a family of six children. Terri frequently speaks to women's groups around the United States and leads a city-wide, nondenominational women's group. She and Harvey reside with their blended family in Pearcy, Arkansas.