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Preparing to Blend - Ron Deal

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
October 9, 2021 1:25 am

Preparing to Blend - Ron Deal

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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October 9, 2021 1:25 am

If you are thinking about beginning a blended family, don’t miss today's Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. FamilyLife Blended’s Ron Deal has a few things to say BEFORE you blend. How do you know it’s time? What are the steps to getting the rest of the family on board? What about finances? Don’t miss the practical advice from step-parenting expert, Ron Deal.

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If you're thinking about starting a blended family. Don't miss today's Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman if somebody is just 30 or above. It's 1/4 of all first marriage. Weddings are forming a blended family. People find themselves in stiff feelings for lots of reasons. Obviously what we want to do is try to help them get ready for that building relationship Gary Chapman either of the New York Times or "The 5 Love Languages" today are making the transition to becoming that family Ron is a step parenting Yoda fierce warrior for blended families.

This is really practical program because what Ron writes in the book preparing to work in the blended family direction criticism you read this book and there's no wish every couple is contemplating reading this part of the process. Think like we do more preparation before we get married, then it's going to be easier.

Many blended families latest jump into it and year down the road there struggling and then they start looking for help.

What's good, I'm glad they're looking for help, but to those who haven't yet made that decision, or their thinking seriously about it. This book is a great read for them while I said it here before you will.

My favorite people on the planet. So let's welcome them back to Dir. of family life blended author of a number of helpful books for stepfamilies's name is Ron deal five love you'll see the featured resource today preparing to blend the couple's guide to becoming a smart stepfamilies just go to five love or under welcome back to Building Relationships were glad to have you. Thank you, Gary. It's always a pleasure to be with you and Chris and just appreciate the opportunity you have your finger on the pulse of blended families and you begin by talking about the effects of what we've been through in the last year year and 1/2 actually and what it's done for blended families. Well, you know, I think in general, blended families are experiencing similar effects that as other families and other couples around the country and it seems to be going one of two ways.

For many people the pandemic has been an opportunity there.

They're getting time together that they didn't have parents and children are spent. My wife's a teacher and she would hear things you know a year ago when the pandemic started she would hear things from her students like hey I got to ride my bike with my dad today and hey were doing puzzles as a family you know things that are indicators of people are making an opportunity at this and and I think that's enhancing some relationships and some unexpected ways. For many families at the same time there is a stress factor going on for all of us were certainly getting tired of it and I'm hearing that from people and I think if there was stress already in a blended family home. For example, then this is exacerbating it in some ways just I mean there's just a low level grumpiness in my heart and life Gary he and Ojeda were just walking around on man when is this going to be over. And so it naturally already puts you on edge and then if there's any stress or strain going on in your family relationships, boy. You just a little quicker to react and negativity comes out and so that's making things a little bit more challenging. So it seems to either be going in a positive way for some and not so positive for others.

I'm sure that's true. Before we go further Identify what we mean by the term blended family.

Yeah, it's confusing. Our language gives us a way we there's so much complexity in stepfamily relationships that we don't even know exactly how to talk about them around the country, so we are talking about stepfamilies and that happens when at least one adult brings a child from a previous relationship to the new couple family marriage relationship so at least one person brings a kit and that could be preceded by marriage and divorce could be preceded by marriage and the death of a spouse or somebody being widowed many many more circumstances these days guys are happening for blended families. When nobody's been married before, but somebody had a child and now is bringing that child into a new relationship where we talk about premarital education preparation today. Let me take a stat that's blowing me away. Okay 15% of first marriages in the United States today form a blended family.

15% of first marriages form a blended family and get this if one of the two adults is over age 30 or 30 or above and and by the way, that's not a stretch like if you're like me and you got married very young you think, oh everybody gets married young well know, most first marriages today are taking place around age 26, 27, 28 if somebody is just a couple years older 30 or above the first marriage rate that forms a blended family jumps to 28%. It's 1/4 of all first marriage. Weddings are forming a blended family. People find themselves in stepfamilies for lots of reasons and obviously what we want to do is try to help them get ready for that and experience it well well well you know I'm sure that many of our listeners today fall in the category so excited about our conversation. We know that there many premarital resources out there for couples but but this one this book. The judiciary is as unique. So tell us what sets it apart. Yeah, well, the answer is obvious. It's not just about becoming a couple hints about becoming a family.

Gary, you and I wrote a book together came out just a couple years ago. Building love together and blended families. I'm still so proud of that work. I think we really did a great job making the unique application of your love language principles to stepfamily relationships. What if one person is more motivated to be the family that another person, how do you navigate love languages and suppose in that case, your bonding is really what that book is all about will becoming a stepfamily that preparing to blend book that we've just released is about helping not just a couple be stronger and more healthy which is what premarital counseling typically does. But we also have to get take in consideration they're going to be instant parents and a stepparent and they're going to have to be dealing with transition with children and kids in attitude and you know the all the things ago along with trying to become a functional family right off the bat so it fundamentally changes the nature of the premarital preparation. It's really pretty family preparation.

So this book is not just for the couple. It's in effect for the couple and all of their children and actually there are some things that help them think about how does a former spouse react to you getting married. Things like that.

It takes the big picture into consideration. I didn't want to just help couples have conversations I wanted couples and children to have conversations about how they're going to be a family once the wedding occurs. That's what makes this very different will run you know many pastors and counselors are doing premarital counseling and have been for years. Not everybody takes advantage of that. But it is out there but if you were talking to pastors and counselors and coaches about this. What would you say to them, or forceful. I want to know there's a premarital gap. That's what I'm calling it I discovered this in the process of writing this book. Didn't know it going in.

You know the percentage of couples forming a blended family when they get married who get some sort of premarital education or preparation is far lower than it is for somebody marrying for the very first time get this 75% of couples forming blended families don't get any premarital preparation nothing and when they do, here's another added problem there probably getting the same thing that a first-time married couple is getting who have no kids, you know, the typical premarital program is all about the couple's relationship and those are good things, but it doesn't really deal with parenting. It doesn't deal with stepfamily finances. It doesn't do deal with former spouses or what, what's the role of a stepparent walking in on actual child's life doesn't deal with any of that and what we know from research is that those of the things that lead to distress in the couple's relationship and in the family and ultimately you know bring the risk of divorce.

So even when you're kidding some premarital prep.

It's really not the kind of prep that they really need. So we've really been missing about here. So if there's a pastor listing you and anyone who is a marriage mentor or you work with your church in any capacity or even know somebody at your church who does this sort of thing. Please hand them. This book was written. A leaders guide so that this becomes an instant premarital program for a church leader. They can just turn around and use immediately with a couple it is written for couples so they can do it themselves. I would much prefer that they actually go through it with a pastor or counselor or a mentor because I think they're gonna get more out of it, but we've got a kind of awaken the church to the need for specialized training for preblended couples and that's what were trying to do with this book, preparing to blend much-needed resource.

No question about that.

This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller "The 5 Love Languages" . Find out more about our featured resource and I guess today by going to five love You'll find our featured resource they are preparing to blend the couple's guide to becoming a smart stepfamily.

It's written by our guest Ron deal Ron is Dir. of family life blended and you can find out more at Broadwater. Some of the mistakes that couples like when considering blending their families. The biggest mistake Gary is a quick turnaround at AMI. That's one way of putting it. It's when you go through a major transition, which is what death of a spouse or divorce is at then quickly find a new partner re-couple and make the declaration were get married and married quickly that quick turnaround. I gotta tell you, it gives children and extended family members emotional whiplash. It is just so hard for them to keep up with what's going on and how does this affect their life and how is this change in the nature of their family and their identity within the family. There's just so many things happening, you know, death or divorce obviously is a tremendous loss and that requires a lot of time and grieving and when you do a quick turnaround not only are you telling your kids get over what just happened and quickly get over now what's happening and here's another one thrown at you earthquake number two babies a way to say it, but you're asking yourself to not grieve the past and not really fully incorporate that into who you are.

Learn the lessons God would have you learn and deal with that in a healthy way so that you're in a better emotional place to make decisions about any sort of new relations is just short-circuiting the process for everybody that's a big mistake and I really encourage people to avoid that. One other thing I'll mention is the assumption that any sort of positive dating experience you're having, in an responses from from children and extended family is going to automatically carry over to marriage and family. Once the wedding takes place. Here's this is one of those insidious little truths about life dating is usually whether the first marriage or at second or fifth marriage, dating is not really representative of real life. It doesn't really show you what life is going to require of you what this new family or marriage is going to require of you it's it's only when you get there that you really discover what that is. And that's especially true when the children involved kids kind want to keep the peace. They want mom to feel like Boyette were on her side and were an advocate for what's happening in her new relationship that we want mom to be happy. She's been so sad since dad left and we want to be happy and so were happy for her but there's another side to this and it's that this is weird thing. I don't want to stepdad I don't I don't want this I would, but I would prefer dad be back in the picture to whatever those feelings are kids just tend to hide them and that comes out after the wedding and then all of a sudden there was going well well well I thought we were all on forward and feeling hundred percent about this and now you're showing me another side while part of what we did was preparing to blend his help them slow down so that they get some honest perspective and an attunement to their children and we give kids a chance to voice some of this so that they can work through it as a family rather than being blindsided by a so you know I think that's an important element here seems to leave some years ago there was research that indicated that it takes about two years after a divorce or after the death of a spouse before the individual gets back on level ground emotionally would never say that's in the ballpark. I think that's generally true. Of course it depends on the nature of your relationship with the person. How would love for you. It was this a widow situation where you've lost them to death and it was unexpected and you were totally unprepared or is this something you been grieving a long time as they were dying of cancer you that obviously there's other, but a good rule of thumb I think is two years and that what that implies.

Gary, yes okay at some around that to your mark now your able to start thinking about dating and new relationships. You're in a better place to incorporate that and move forward. So many people, a vast majority of people have not only dated they've married within two years or just not giving themselves enough time in your book you help couples create a digital map of their blended family. What is that how can this map help couples unite to families you know I I know you're familiar with this for years therapists have been using with the color genogram.

It's a it's a way of just, mapping your family history, and learning about the patterns of relationships and ultimately learning about yourself so that you're able to have more intentionality in your own relationships. Very insightful tool. While I have some friends that been working on creating a website in ineffective people can go on and create a digital genogram for their blended family ahead of time to anticipate what their families gonna look like in the relationships and here's what's really cool about this and we worked it right into the one of the chapters right into the program. The book you're going to go online, you can answer a few questions your to get this print out of legal relationships with children and other homes with a sense of the temperature of the relationships that are taking place between you former spouses current children future stepchildren future stepsiblings. What's the relationship temperature between them. When this all prints out. You get to sit back and go well okay, I never really thought about this this way before. But look at child a they've got eight relationships and five of them are really healthy, but there's three that are really stressful for them. How is our marriage can impact those three relationships what what are we doing to help anticipate the ripple effect on that child. You could do that with each child. You can do that with yourself you can do that with grandparents is a very insightful thing.

So the website is supports you when you get the print out. I've actually worked with them. We created some video resources that you can access what you get there that just come along with it, but I've worked that into the book so that your reflecting on these things. You're letting a pastor help you think through the implications of what you've just learned about your family.

Very insightful. We've gotten tremendous feedback from people that have taken it in the early stages I can see that is been extremely helpful to a couple think a lot of couples enter into a blended family, thinking you were in love.

This is wonderful. The kids are happy everything is going be fine.

What we do not know every counselor knows that the does not court that Rosie is it possible to have a blended family and not have struggles that all present, which he defined as a struggle. I think anybody who's been married or has children there so many rewards and payoffs and at the same time there are so many things that God requires of you to love well in those situations that you didn't know you just didn't know you. Here's one on me. I did not know I was going have to learn how to manage my defensiveness when I married my wife 36 years ago. I didn't know that was going to be a really important thing for me to learn to do, but my goodness, I've had to find self-control. I've had to learn how to understand that part of me and undo it because it can undo my marriage really really fast. That's always true of any family or relationship. I think with blended families. Of course there's going to be some surprises some sacrifices that you didn't know you have to make. But here's the thing. There can be a lot of reward for blended families. There's always some unseen transition for you for children. Think she just didn't anticipate. Okay it is what it is, what were essentially trying to do as you said earlier, is help people anticipate some of this and get ahead of it.

I actually believe that this book as a as a premarital tool helps build momentum for family nests even before you get to the altar, which just means the transition after the wedding is is is easier for adults and children. There's going to be stressors absolutely, but let's diminish the transitional stress and an increase the reward that be a great thing no more preparation beforehand.

Yes that is right less last train wrecks afterwards, we gotta say this. Premarital counseling works. I mean, it increases the quality of the average couples relationship by 30% and it decreases your risk of divorce year-over-year by 31%. Why would you not do that, absolutely, absolutely. You talk about expectations in the book you talk about recalibrating expectations will remain well the one expectation is we love each other. You and I is has been a wife so clearly the kids and I love that we love each other there to love one another and they're gonna love that you and I love each other and there's always a part of children that does love this. It is a good thing from in their standpoint but often there is also another part for kids that aren't really in love with the fact that you love each other than with what they wish is that mom and dad were back together what they wish is that we could undo what's happened in the past that was negative and somehow replace or fix or you go back to where it way it should up and and so now your new relationship brings some complexity to that sort of sabotages any hope that mom and dad could back together again after divorcing and so there's a bitter side to it. So there's a sweet and and there's a bitter all at once, and if your expectation is only that there will be sweet. Then all of a sudden you're really upset or disappointed or feel challenged or feel disrespected when there is a better response out of children.

So again, recalibrating your expectation helps you deal with reality better and anticipate what that will be, rather than being blindsided by it was expectations that you talk about is repairing what is been lost because in a blended family is always something been lost right between the divorce rate of death of a family. So is that about expectations. I think it is. I'm perfect. I think it's one of the biggest on said most people don't even realize they're thinking it until they feel the disappointment, and then they go oh I guess I thought I was repairing the past and so it's a big set up for everybody hears away roles. It's a natural thing when something that is been fractured. There's been hurt in the past loss in the past, you really would love to be able to just fix it. So yes, my wife died and I'm left with three beautiful kids.

But man I really wish I didn't have to do this alone. Lo and behold, I discovered this woman. She's fantastic. As a matter fact I think my kids like her and this is really going to be good and the fantasy is once we get married what has been lost will be replaced and we will be again a whole family and the way I would say it is you are absolutely a family.

It's just a different kind of family. It's not the family you had.

It's a new family. It's a stepfamily it's a blended family with the complexity and different relationship. Relationship dynamics that blended families have and so on. Stepmom is going to have to bond with the kids there, but have to figure out how to relate to one another. There's no history there. There's no automatic love and automatic deep respect for her as an authority figure all that has to come with time, and so if you're thinking, repair, then you're constantly disappointed because it hasn't been repaired. What I would rather you think is new, different, who are we and how do we make us work. That's the better question to ask and when you discover that your your expectations are in the right place around I just recently I was talking with a couple of an older couple who have remarried both of them lost their spouse. But this and have adult children of course but in the context of a conversation. They were free to talk about their deceased spouse and then the conversation I brought that up us and you also rule free to talk about their so you know we do we respect each other so spouse, you know, and in this case they didn't know them but they knew all them and I was like a deer.

This is really healthy that that but now in a divorce situation where the former spouse is still living. You probably not free to do that right yes I mean it comes with baggage right I mean to talk about your former spouse even even reflect on positive things in your marriage in the it within the kids hearing it sort of like well so why did you guys get a divorce or within the hearing of your new spouse. It's sort of like what do you still have a fondness for them a love for them is your is your heart still attached to them to the really want you to be attached to me. So all of a sudden talking about that former spouse is a negative dynamic bulimia and let me just show and a caveat here and this is something I talk about in the book. Would the chapter when were helping adults understand the losses of children and begin the dialogue run this. Here's a dynamic Gary. Just imagine apparent in the single-parent years, having conversations with their children about a deceased parent they grieved together as a family we talk about how much we miss dad and how great it was you.

We cry together and Father's Day, and his death date and his birthday and it there's a family grieving dynamic taking place. Mom and children. But when mom re-couples falls in love with a new guy.

Maybe she backs off of that sort of language she's a little concerned that her new husband might be intimidated and what you guys are always talking about him. I don't want to live in his shadow so she backs off of that language to honor her new husband. But think about it from the kids point of view their missing dad and they can't talk to mom about it anymore. There's no longer a family grieving process.

There's just a me grieving all on my own process and now I have to grieve not being able to agree with others. It just adds an element to children. That's not therefore the mother. That's the kind of thing that can become a point of bitterness in a child's heart toward the stepdad. It is not his fault, but since you came around. We can talk about this stuff anymore.

It just becomes a barrier that's the kind of thing that we help point out and then give you a conversation so that you can anticipate how to deal with this in a healthy way.

This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Find out more about today's program topic at our website. Five love you find some great resources. They are like a podcast of this program and our featured resource. Ron deals book preparing to blend the couple's guide to becoming a smart stepfamily just got a five love to find out more about in the book you have included growth activities for couples and children. Can you explain these. The purpose of these activities, you know, I really wanted this to be in a do-it-yourself resource for couples who are planning to get married. I really want couples to go through this with a pastor or a guide and mentor somebody but I'm also aware that there are lots of couples in the world who just don't have access to that and to be honest there there pastor or leader is not gonna be able to bring much to the table so I had to write something they could do all by themselves. So this is a read and do book. It is a workbook if you will, so the first half of each chapter outlines. Here's a unique aspect to stepfamily when I want to help you anticipate now, here's what you gonna do with this and it gives them what I call growing activities that help them actually put this in to action in their home even before the wedding. Stay in place.

So sometimes it's a couple dialogue. A structured conversation.

Sometimes it is a dialogue with children and their actually trying to accomplish something, trying to learn something, or trying to listen better and listen for something in particular. It's designed at the end of the day to strengthen the relationships to build your momentum as a family, even as you head towards the wedding so it gives kids a voice. It acknowledges some of those awkward little stepfamily things we've got to figure out. So at some point we muzzled figure my now and I think I think it's really powerful and moving the family forward. I think that element of the book is really really helpful because you know you can read things yeah and and think, well, it was a good idea. You know you don't do anything to implement it but this helps implement the exact yeah it's a great idea, but one of those for the growth activities is centered around helping couples and children anticipate what will change after the wedding. Was it so important when you know the story of being a child in a blended family is a series of unwanted losses changes that came that you didn't ask for it and vote on their way to give you a chance and it wouldn't have certainly gone the way it did.

If it was up to you.

So whether that was parents divorcing one parent leaving or you know it. Loss of a parent through death.

Plus, now single-parent changes. That is where in a different house. We have less room than we use to less income than we use do I have to go to new school, new church, new friends, new community and then that changed a few years later when we moved to a different house, a new community a new school and new and now it's changing again in light of this new family merger and so unwanted, unwanted, unwanted, unwanted change, all adds up to more and more loss if you can help kids anticipate little changes that are going to come about that that then all of a sudden it helps take some of the sting out of it.

Just imagine a simple little conversation Gary that that this is the do part of this chapter conversation we just sit down to go okay you know what just occurred to me that we have when we all move into the new house. It can take us 15 minutes longer to get to school in the morning.

Kids work.

I have to get up earlier than we use do we all know how hard that is like.

Let's talk through what that's going to be like for you and for you and for us and how we gonna what's our routine gonna be like how we gonna navigate this so that the first day we go to school is not a total ambush on anybody again.

When children wake up to. Again, here's another thing that your decisions, mom or dad have brought to my life. Had you known creates sadness in their heart but also ripples and anger and frustration and irritability. If we can anticipate that. Take the sting out of it, then it's a little easier to transition into it. Well, especially if the children are brought into it right conversation and negative voice and how it's all going to shake down and how it's going to happen we think about it from a power standpoint. One of things we know about loss is it makes you feel small.

You don't have any power over what's happening when you have some power given back to you whatever that is some ability to speak into what's happening in your world then at least you feel like you've got a little voice it's empowering.

So again when parents slow down enough to help kids anticipate a change and say now how do you want to handle this. What can I do to make this easier for you. It's all unwelcome for sure, but have to do it what you think. Now were giving a little voice back to kids a little power back and that's really important you talk little bit about the wedding itself how important it is. Is it important is it for couples to integrate the children into the wedding planning and what does that look like man I gotta tell you something. My early outline of this book had planning your wedding chapter at the end. Somehow I it was sort of an add-on, and then I started digging and looking in, and there's actually some good research around blended family weddings in particular and how kids think of them and whether the wedding is helpful to the transition to be in a family or not, and I discovered this is a big deal.

I gotta move it up in the book and and emphasize it to people and we start flooding the manuscript to engage couples and asking them to give us feedback. Every single couple Gary commented on this chapter how impactful it has been on them and I'm just convinced this is really important it. Here's the bottom line.

A poorly planned wedding and poor and poorly means not including the kids just telling what's going to happen and expecting them to be happy about it can actually make things worse for your family but a well planned wedding were again you give them a voice and they get to say what they want to do what really want to play if at all, if any, and there heard and they feel like somebody cared enough to even engage them around this type thing and then you pull that off.

It connection be something that's not just a day of remembrance for the couple. But actually day of remembrance for the entire family.

Not that it's a magic moment it doesn't actually bond everybody and everybody's happy. But what it does is it puts a marker in the ground and it sort of says all right now. Things are different and I had a role in connecting into this new family. II got it.

Say a one story that actually feedback came back to us so quickly, were able to wrap it into the book you will read in the book about a couple that I know that they were planning to elope. They had plans there were no flyway do the thing get married come home. He kids were family and they were penalized.

After reading this book that is a really dumb idea and it really is another dumb but it makes things worse for the kids like they have no experience of the whole wedding phenomenon so they started talking. The children engaged in conversation the guided growing activity and also the kids wanted to be a part of this and want to play this role and they planned a small wedding for family and friends. The kids got to be intimately involved with it.

They ended up making a family. They took a canvas blank canvas instead of you know the unity candle thing that a lot of people do. They had a blank canvas. Everybody put pain on their hands.

They all got to put their hand print their fingerprints to this new family during the wedding. Later they put dates and you know family on it and and it's hanging on the wall in their home it. It's become a symbol of who we now are with one another. You still have to work out the relationships after the wedding, but at least it's symbolic of what were becoming they would've missed all of that, had they gone and eloped.

This chapter helps people slow down really see and make plans with children in a way that helps everybody. I was talking to someone near the Veyron, who had been to a wedding of a blended family.

Both husband and the wife and children and I said we observed during the wedding.

Every one of the children were sitting there crying and had the thought. I didn't say anything to the couple. But I had thought you know I don't think they were repaired for this yet.

You know I talk about that in the in the chapter, like why why does this happen while again it's that part of them is happy that this is happening and there's another part of them that is deeply sad that is confused that his wondering house is now in back my moms getting married to this new guy. How is this impact my life houses impacting my dad how is he feeling about this because I know dad didn't want the divorce to happen in the first place. So he's going to be hurting over mom get all of that is rushing through their heart and mind and soul and it adds up to some tears on the wedding day now mom is not feeling that she's happy and excited and moving forward. But if mom can connect into that part of her children into the sadness. For example, now they they can walk together. Still, even though they have a different experience they can still walk together.

That's what we want at the end of the day instead of kids being isolated in their and their hurt for them to be loved by somebody who can give them some guidance through trying to deny their feelings of sadness or whatever, but entering into accepting those things and acknowledging and discussing it right right well the whole thing of parenting and find unity in parenting we don't always have this evening first marriages without children do. So how challenging this billion a blended family yeah well you know you and I wrote in building love together and blended families in our books how important this is and we spent a lot of time trying to lay out how parent and stepparent can work together and and play to one another's strengths.

I want to do that in this book, preparing to blend to help couples anticipate working together and you know for years. Gary, I felt like if there was something I hadn't quite really done well it's give people a systematic process to talk through in order to move their parenting forward and get on the same parenting page I guess is a way to say it. And so I think I pulled it off in the in this book you're going out do a history of how you are parented the type of parent you've been as in a first marriage as a single parent. If you have kids if you don't have children, you're entering a blended family, anticipating what kind of parent do I want to be is going to systematically walk you through all of that and then say, all right, how do we merge who we are and what we believe about parenting, at least to get us started.

The life is going to teach you more about parenting and of course it does that, but at least your on the same page with your heart and your intent on day one that's so very important here. Here's one thing we know, children give biological parents a lot of grace went when you mess up.

They love you anyway they forgive you and your my dad in the story. I love you children don't give a lot of grace to stepparents as a matter fact they give you a lot of judgment and so if you have hoop and oops it can really hurt your ability to bond with your stepchildren. Over time, so, so trying to anticipate get on the same page work together be a team very important principles to start your family off well.

It's great to have you with us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Our goal is to provide help and hope for your relationships Ron DLF family life blended as our guest. He's written a book preparing to blend a couple's guide to becoming a smart stepfamily. Find out more at run you mission just before the break, the kids often don't give stepparents as much grace as their biological parent and am wondering if that then causes the stepparent to try a little harder to push a little further to to overcompensate for that. What you say to this. The stepparent who saying oh that's that's me and I am trying so hard yeah for all parents crew is a great question for all parents fear and desperation are lousy motivators in parenting. They will push you in the wrong direction of the writers, so if you're trying so hard for this kid to like you to connect with them to develop some trust so that you can you know really be family to each other and then there like no I don't want this. I don't need this or it's fine your here but don't tell me what to do then you feel defeated you feel like a failure and it is so your desperation lead you what to try little harder or push a little harder or get angry or you know it, but that's really going to help. Now I'm angry at you because you don't love me that's really going to help a child like you know it's not. It's so those are things that how you get to keep that in check to recognize this is my need more than it's their need.

It's my knee that were family more than it is there need that were family right away. I've got to be patient.

I got to slow down my my heart.

I gotta try it discussed some really weird.

Chris try don't try harder, try smarter, which may mean which may mean slow down and not even work hard at all like take it as it comes you to be intentional but don't be over the top, because it that's where you get into trouble. I think I think there's a paradox there.

When you relax into okay this is where rat I want to make the best of it that actually opens up the door for things to move forward. It just go slow and that's okay. It's supposed to. So again that's part of recalibrating expectations that then set you up to be more successful when it comes to discipline of a child. Is it generally better for the biological parent to administer the discipline, at least in the early stages of blending yes it is and it's very important for our conversation today preparing to blend because again it's a little deceptive even before the wedding. Many stepparents report that the children sort of respond well to their direction right. So then after the wedding. The stepparents like okay full-fledged family. Now I'm a parent so they step even further into behavioral setting limits and that sort of thing is like wow then the kids react and select who are you, you're not my dad. You can tell me what to do. Where did that come from well again it's that everybody is in transition and this is just hard reality and were all trying to figure out what it means for us to work together and be together as a family unit. So in the early stages.

It's really important for biological parent in this case, mom to do the hard work of discipline when that's required to set limits to set boundaries, whether it's putting the child in timeout.

A young child or were taken away the khakis with a teenager. That's gotta be the biological parents doing because you have a clearly defined role in relationship with the child they know who you are and you know who you are, but stepparent is ambiguous and undefined.

And everybody's a little confused about what it means for you to be the stepparent and so you just stay away from those hard moments in parenting. Let the bow parent do it support them.

You're part of it. Talk about it. Behind closed doors ahead of time. You're still part of the parenting team but when it comes time to actually talk and deal with the child that's about parents job now when you do that early phases later as your relationship is strengthened and trust is developed when you and the child then you can start moving into those active roles is just a matter of timing, but what's this talk about money 00 chapter dealing with merging money and estate planning because a lot of folks don't dig very deeply in this era before they get married. That's exactly right.

You know, here's a thing a few years ago me and a couple guys a financial planner and estate attorney we we teamed up with Roebuck on this. The smarts to family guide to financial planning and so this chapter for couples who are engaged in planning to get married is sort of a summary of some of the key elements of of that book well no money just brings to the surface.

A lot of emotion you know good and bad, right, it's so deep within us. It it brings to the surface. My need to care for my kids, you know brings to the surface trust issues when a minute, wait a minute you do not go put my name on that bank account goal. Why not you.

Do you not trust me, can I not trust you because you want to keep something separate from me.

What is this mean, especially if any of the adults either one of them persons of the couple has had struggles with money in a previous relationship or money.

They fought about money or somebody had money or somebody you know spent all the money at the end right for the divorce happened, whatever that just creates an even greater sensitivity. So this is a flashpoint for for many people, not everybody, but for many people. I think a lot of pre-blended couples avoid talking about money because they inherently know it's a corrosive subject and they just want to avoid things that will hurt our romance.

I love you were feeling good about this. Let's move forward.

Let's not talk about hard things well I think you have talk about it eventually.

So you might as well start into that so that you don't get again blindsided later after the wedding. Grateful you know if I can be honest about assets, liabilities, all those things beforehand. Lay it all on the table and the attitude of it is going to be our money orders ago, but your money is a huge huge area.

Let me just add one more thought.

Here I think everybody assumes goodwill towards enough hate I would be marrying you if I didn't trust you if I didn't love you, funded for like God has a vision for our lives and were headed down the same road together and this is a good thing you wouldn't get married at all. If you didn't believe all that and so along with that comes that so if I get hit by a bus. The day after our wedding. I'm assuming you're going to care my kids thought that the assumption of goodwill right and here's what I've learned in working with two other guys who specialize in money matters for blended families is that good will only last so long and it's a one-way street. Sometime you may have great goodwill toward taking care of my children, but they also have expectations, especially if their little older teenagers or young adults or older adults in their 30s and have life couples get married later in life have adult children who are deeply invested in the family inheritance in mom's dishes in your grandma's portrait that's on the wall that that I've got my name on it like they care about those things a lot and their opinion may be different than your spouse's opinion about how money should be handled. So all of a sudden you know I talked with an estate attorney when times doing an interview for a money magazine and they said that their experience was that nearly half of the contested estate cases that went to court in the state of New York that is study, nearly half of them were between stepparents and stepchildren.

It's a fragile relationship to try to figure out our dad died. Now were stuck trying to figure out what to do with all the stuff and we all have an opinion if you're much better served you and your family and the generations to come.

If you have those constructive conversations ahead of time to figure it out put it out on paper informed the children when you're living and now money serves us rather than money being something that divides us. But let's address one of the topic and that is sometimes a couples thinking about marriage, but their parents on one or both are questioning the whole thing and how do you handle that well. Obviously the circumstances differ from situation to situation, but I think you know the overarching rule of thumb is listen and try to hear what their concerns are and this can be some pain behind those concerned. So ultimately that's what you want to listen for listening may sound like the obvious thing to say. So let me explain what I'm telling people not to do what couples often do. Whether this is with children or with their parents or their siblings or whoever it is extended family. They often as a couple go into defense mode and trying to convince the other people why there should be concern. Imagine somebody planning to get married for blended family. Maybe there are engaged, and that person's mother or father is expressing some concern and you say, oh look, dad, it's okay.

He's a great guy. He's going to take care of us. It's not gonna happen again. What happened with my first husband is not can happen with don't worry about it in a what are you doing when you're minimizing his concern his anxiety. Your you're telling him I want to hear that. And now I'm going into being an attorney and convince you why you're wrong. None of that helps. Dad feeling better about this.

Listening is about. Okay, I'm not sure I understand your point of view.

Let me try to get behind this, tell me what's going on. What are your concerns use those words concern. What should we worried about what are you fearful is going to happen. In light of our family let them lay it out. Now you know what you're dealing with now you can say hot water what we could do to address that. Is there anything I could do talk to my future husband talk with my kids. What is the need here you happy. You may not be able to meet all the needs there of your extended family, but at least they feel heard and at least you shown some respect towards what's bothering them. It might be that you slowed a little bit moving towards a wedding, or you might make some different decisions in light of what you're learning all that is to be determined but if you don't start with the listening piece. You'll never know what you need to do. Run before we close. What kind of things can churches do to help the blending process well obviously we believe in premarital counseling and church and pastors do we want to do good premarital preparation for blended family couples as well and what that means is you gotta get retooled. You gotta understand stepfamily living.

By the way this book is designed for pastors and leaders just as much as it is for couples.

So go online, family to blend and you'll find a section for leaders of free leaders guide that you can download tips and tools for helping to do blended family weddings extra activities. Therefore, for couples to be thinking through and then you have this unified premarital program and just do it. Just start talking using the book as a catalyst to ignite conversations with couples and get them thinking about their relationship in new and innovative ways and there you go. You're off and running and that does a world of good to help them anticipate and prepare for life after the wedding, and this is been a fascinating conversation about a super super important issue and I do hope that those who are listing who are in blended families are thinking about a blended family will get this book work through it.

If your pastor or church leader earned coach or counselor. This is going to be into it will help you be effective in helping couples get ready for Thanksgiving with us today and I hope this book is going to help a lot of couples have a healthy start thinking here are some of the questions we get to but good news find a resource run pairing to blend "The 5 Love Languages" .com subtitle couples guide smart stepfamily again.

Just go to five love and next week if your faith is fractured. If you feel like walking away from God because of what you say. The church don't miss Dr. Lena Abby Cameron will join a big thank you to our connection team today and time Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman's production at Moody radio in Chicago with many publishers a ministry in the Bible

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