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Help For Pre-Blended Families

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
October 1, 2021 2:00 am

Help For Pre-Blended Families

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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October 1, 2021 2:00 am

Preparing for marriage to begin a blended family comes with unique dynamics. Ron Deal, Director of FamilyLife Blended, talks about his book, "Preparing To Blend," addressing not just the joining of two hearts, but those of the whole family.

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So I remember days meeting your stepmom for the first time a few months before we got married and seeing your dad had been married only 10 years and she wasn't a follower of Christ, but she was giving me some advice before our wedding day to visit an interesting listing for interesting NC said make sure you know Dave and I said like I think I do. Even though we had been dating like seven months so you knew me so well, welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue relationships that matter most and Wilson Wilson. You can find us if we live today.com or on our family life. His family life today.

You know who he is but when I got married to Dave's dad. It was my second marriage and I had a son for my first marriage and it was his second marriage and he had four kids five kids actually one passed away.

My brother from that marriage, and she said I had no idea who this man was, she said I was a mom that was desperate. I had just moved to a new country. I had just married this very successful man and I was desperate to not get divorced again.

We note an essay which he found out yeah I mean it was something she had no idea who she did not know until O how long it was after their wedding, but some probably within a week or two that my dad was an alcoholic, like a an alcoholic who is passing out every night and losing his car and I said so what you do and she said oh I thought I need to do something this woman had spunk. I ended up she said I thought what's important to this man. She said I knew instantly money money is what drives the money and things and so she said he would pass out and I don't even know where he was at times when he passed out he was gone from the house and I would take a bat and I would destroyed the furniture I would break Mears clamps I would break everything and he'd wake up and come home the next day and he said happened and she said this is what you did when you were drunk last night and she said I did this about five times and after the fifth time. He said I can afford to drink and longer. It's funny but it's it's tragic but her work is all always remember a different the last 10 years of his life because he stopped drinking it was because my stepmom sorta helped in but I never knew she had that conversation with you like you better know your husband because she didn't and so we got a raw deal with us today the talk about that very thing about how you prepared to get married when you're walking into a blended situation.

So, welcome back from life like a baseball bat. There is no idea. Maybe this is something you okay, I'll keep that Elrond is the director of our family blended the ministry here for the life of all of you know him and he's written many books I didn't know till our last time we talked eight books and that one night book and this was very interesting and we endorsed it because number one because of you run it everywhere we go. When ever we run into a blended family. We had one year ago. So walk up to us in an airport, and the sooner you Dave and I will sort like to go to our church and I know we heard your voice.

We recognize your voice we've never seen you might want in there in a blended thing and said you know Ron's material.

Yes, it's lifesaving to me and it's really you are ami. Our house is a gift from God to London world crown. I think I have probably promoted you your podcast in your books more than any other material that I have ever because they're such a great need and people are longing for help that are blended. I appreciate that so much as a very kind words and you're right about that. People for years complained of me, Ron.

Where's the Christian voice on the blended family. They were right to do so because when I started doing this almost 30 years ago.

Now there really wasn't anything in it it.

There were a few things, but you couldn't find him. If people can put their hands on them and now that's just not true anymore family life blended you know the department that I leave here at family life. We have books we have live events.

We have virtual events. We have online courses, the people can take online on demand. We have a family blended podcast which I am so proud of it. I think it's a regular dose of really good stuff for people and it's free like there's all kinds of resource that's available now. We have never had something specifically for engaged couples to help them prepare for the wedding and to empower pastors and mentors and coaches to be able to ready those couples for the wedding and now we do with preparing to blend yes will talk about preparing to blend. We've already talked about a little bit, but it's a different reality for a blended family and I say family because not just a couple. Now, get married, it's a family become a family and there's different issues that I don't even understand and you do so, as you prepared this preparing to blend book. What were you thinking what you're hope. My hope is equipping not just the couple, but their children and them as a unit to move forward towards the family that they are creating now will tell you this. Anything we do in marriage education and premarital counseling. For example, there's a little bit of let's call it assessment and it like getting you to start talking with your children about your expectations for how life will go and their expectations for how life will go all of a sudden. Sometimes results in a collision of oh you have different expectations than we do couples know this right you married, you realize I just thought it would go this way and you were thinking that way and that what we do will what if that's five people or seven people who have those expectations rather than just two of you as adults and you're trying to deal with the collision of all those expectations well if you can get out in front of that conversation and proactively enter it in a collaborative way with children giving them a voice, especially kids, you know, one of the journeys of children we know into a typical blended family is a lot of unwanted circumstances that they didn't really ask for but yet they're being asked to adjust to it that's taking control out of their hands. If you can give them a little bit of control into how life is going to go makes it easier for them to embrace how life is going to go be a part a contributor rather than somebody who's fighting against what would you say are some of the things that couples need to have their eyes open to about this.

Let's talk about the wedding for a minute okay okay I have really been struck by the feedback we've gotten from this manuscript so far couple after couple of couple said you know what the chapter on planning the wedding just really opened her eyes and made us realize how much we need to involve our children in the planning of the wedding and then letting them say how much they want to be a part of the wedding. I just wanted to pause from it so research is really clear when children are involved in the idea of their parent getting married when there somehow included in even the decision-making process invited into the discussion about it. In other words, are not blindsided by the announcement that their parent is is engaged. Number one, number two when they're actively involved in the planning of the wedding and they get to participate in the wedding in a way that they are comfortable with that honors the couple's relationship, but also give some acknowledgment to the child's previous relationships or previous family. If you will.

The fact that they have another dad or mom. In other words, the wedding happens with some sensitivity to that as a consideration, then kids are far more out a to be excited about the wedding.

I'm guessing that there are some kids that aren't excited about the wedding and really don't even want to participate because they don't want it to happen. It happens all the time. People hear stories all the time I get emails all the time. We planned this wedding we talk to the kids. They knew it was coming six months go by and then three of my adult kids don't show up right or my teenage daughter just cried the entire way through and just you know it brought a dark cloud over the entire what's going on.

Well I'm here to tell you there's a lot of emotions brewing under the surface for kids and weddings and funerals and birthdays and Christmas and major holidays all bring those emotions to the surface. They are excited for you and at the very same time they are sat there morning.

Their morning. What you know I was mom to get back together not mom married somebody else and this just makes it impossible for that to happen or the case of a child parent who is passed away. I can't see mom happy and kissing and committing to another man and not think about my death and how much I miss him.

It's not about I don't want to stepdad in my world necessarily coming.

Maybe there's something about him.

They don't viscerally like most the time to do like they love the idea of their mom begin with a partner and somebody's going to help take care of her.

But what's also going on inside is I miss my dad. He was everything to me and this just reminds me it resurrects that grief and that pain and so all of a sudden it pours out of the wedding. While cash that's just difficult and awkward hard for everybody. What we want to try to do in this chapter. For example in any activity that that parents and children do together is we want them to start talking about the wedding and your role in your thoughts and your feelings so that that stuff comes out sooner rather than at the event so that the child is able to say you know what, I'm not comfortable with this but I would be comfortable with that.

Would it be okay if we did it that way again were given them a little control in this lack of control world that they live in and the adults are learning something about their child. Think about the movement parent is going. I hear you I see you think about that for just a second, because when people fall in love you guys have talked about this an awful lot right this happens, was first married couples as well. We fall in love, we get blind we get stupid right and we just up seen anything but what we want to see and preblended couples, do the same thing in one of the things they could stop seeing sometimes inadvertently, totally inadvertently as their own children. Yes there aware and sensitive, but on another level all their emotional energy is going into this personally fallen in love with the can help it. So when the child speaks and the parent says oh that's what you need. Now I'm seeing my child in a child needs that they need to feel their parents presence if I could say that they need to feel that their parent is not completely abandoning them in this wedding. And so it's sort of like this delicate dance of all these relationships that the parent is connected to, and when the child gets seen when they feel like they have a little bit of a voice being considered. They've had time to ponder what will it be like to walk down the aisle during the wedding and do what I'm supposed to do like the unity candle.

Whatever it is they get a head start on all the emotions and on the grief so that it's less intense and less overwhelming the day of so wise and just another reason why premarital counseling is for the family, not just for the coffee.

I would think you said a little bit that you kids can be there. It sounds like they really should be there maybe not every session, but part of me just because you want communication to be happening throughout, not later.

Later, one way or another. Maybe not a healthy way. But this could help prepare them for that right. I've never asked you, Dave, were you there when your dad got remarried. Now I wasn't there didn't really even know I have went on their honeymoon. What I did know what was their honeymoon.

I thought I went on a trip with my mom, my dad met his new wife. I found later.

It was their honeymoon to Europe and I was not probably the best thing they wanted on that trip. Do you remember how you felt when you realized a this is her honeymoon and be had and he knows getting married and where does that leave me I'm just one how you process and how old were you, I was 12, maybe 13 and yet I felt like nobody saw me and cared like have been nice to know you know the deal.

So I felt left out.

I remember your stepmom said it there in Europe in a strange hotel in your room all by yourself across the hall and even petrified.

So I went into their room, that honeymoon. But of course there is the little metaphoric. Right here you want to be seen who you want to be included.

You want to be cared for and you feel like you've been pushed to the side literally in a different room across the hall and that is the exact opposite of what we want parents to do because you process that through the child's heart and mind. I'm small insignificant. Nobody sees me. I'm over here. I'm left out on left behind and now you want me to fall in love with my stepparent and fall in love with your new us your us has cost me a lot. Why would I love your us it easy. We just set the family off on a path to start becoming a family and already that the odds are against them yeah is already hurt and injury going on between the relationships we want to undo that. We want to make it that exact opposite.

Let me take a quick little story.

Great couple friends of mine, Jason and Kristin.

They read an early version of the manuscript. They were about to get married and they said and I was going to the wedding. By the way, and they said oh we were going to elope were not doing that.

We realize how important it is that her children be involved in this wedding. And so they set out they had a conversation they follow the activity that that chapter includes which gets them in dialogue with the kids. They started listening. The started hearing and they started sculpting as a family unit. What a wedding would look like and what role the kids would play. I stood in the front of the auditorium and watched two of her three children walk her down the aisle and when they got up to the front and I said who gives this bride to this man. They said the big brother said my brother and I was so precious they went and sat down. Her daughter was holding her flowers and held the bouquet, the right and walked down the eye with as a family unit.

They had decided to be creative. Mom's a real creative artistic person and so they at one point in the ceremony instead of unity candle or the blending of the sands thing that some people are doing. They had a blank canvas upon you to the front of the auditorium and they painted their hands black and everybody got to put their hand to this new family, and put their fingerprints on that's awesome, and it allowed me to talk about how each child in their own way in their own timing can put their fingerprints on this family when they're ready, that there was no pressure for that and that the adults were making this commitment, and they were asking nothing of the children. They were just inviting them to be a part of the process that canvas and now it has a date when they got married is hanging on the wall in their house and it stands for all time. Not as the culmination of becoming a family because they were just starting the process of becoming family, it did culminate the couple's relationship. In forming a marriage in a covenant that will be the basis of this new family. Everybody else just gets to see that canvas from time to time and remember, part of this to a part of this, too, and I decide how I put my fingerprints on this family and to what degree I do that and that's the journey that they have begun they would've eloped and had none of that was going to say the whole time you're sin I think and what they almost missed.

Yeah, they almost is almost missed beautiful memory that's more than memory. It's the shaping of the future that they prepared for it legitimizes the family the marriage and the kids get to be a part of it in the ways that they wanted to be a part of it. You know I hate to say the contrasts, but your circumstance sort of delegitimized their marriage in your eyes just made it so much harder yeah and it you know. I can remember as you know the sun being now in a blended family now. I still live with my biological mom most my life but I didn't know how to function in this family. It was never talked about even after and I had a stepbrother yeah and it had her son knowing talked about it and I didn't know, and so yeah, it was this it was it was Ben. I mean listen to this. Ms. McLouth wouldn't wouldn't have been nice if there was that I want to fly down before we get married and when you meet my new iPhone and meet my your new stepbrother and let's talk about how to do this right you not just think about is a long time ago but that's what couples guess and I'm not that that unique.

I don't think that happens most the time and now you have a tool to say let's do it differently with a different result in that's just one chapter, talk about thinking about your wedding and involving the kids and that there's so many other things that are discussed. Just imagine Dave if you had had a conversation with your future stepbrother like so I call you just and somebody would've given the little guidance to that discussion where you work through that awkward thing and you don't have to guess at it because you actually had a structured conversation that allowed you to figure out a way to come to something you and he were comfortable with this when you guess in life that you just say well I think this is what I'm comfortable with and you start calling somebody that there like hey do I don't like that you now we've got a disconnect in all of this stuff can be avoided. To be honest, it just takes time and on the front end. In order to get that how many sessions how would you do it if I want to help somebody if I want to fire him a couple is going to go through it what you look like, well, there 10 working chapters to the book when I say working chapters.

There's 10 content chapters that have a growing activity attached to them.

The activity is all right when I just going to talk about this conversation needs to take place between stepbrother's organ actually do it.

And there's a guided process in each chapter so it's very much a working pre-blended family counseling program for couples again. They can do it in conjunction with the pastor or mentor or somebody who's giving some additional guidance to the process so ideally it's 10 sessions however you want to spread those out. I do talk about in the leaders guide. Sometimes you don't get some to come see you and you got to get three weeks and I get married what you do, you hear some guidance on how to choose what you're going to do with your time and I think you can just jump in and do what you can do in the amount of time you have actually think couples can just keep doing the activities that have say good as well. Now I feel it, but it still intentionality. Can you give us an example of these growth activities for a family like that would be one of those okay so the one we sort of just were talking about was let's have a conversation around what names are terms were going to use for one another and so the growth activity is first of all, asking the couple to have a conversation with just the two of them around the parameters of this.

What are you comfortable with what am I comfortable with. Now let's go to the kids and see what they're thinking and it gives the couple a little lead in a little script to say something like a look and no world get to know each other really well. The wedding is coming up in a few months and you know at that point will be a family and someday you know I may as your stepparent take you to school and you may introduce me to your teacher and you're going to sit there in Congo while what who is this guy to me.

Is it mom's new husband is that my stepdad is that my bonus dad is that Dave you know Emily, what do I call this person and I'm going to have to introduce you at some point as my step son or daughter and you know what I just think it be good for us to figure out what were comfortable with what we call each other and here's the deal. Whatever you're comfortable with him to be good with as long as it's you know has some basic respect to it, but I want you to know I don't need you to use any particular term. Now notice what were doing. There were giving the child permission to have their own feelings and their own opinion about this relationship and they get to decide the term that there comfortable with. Which by the way tells you a lot about how they're feeling about this. If there like well you're my dad.

I just that just told you something right. By the way, a very small percentage of children ever use the term dad or mom for their stepparent, but if they say I'm comfortable with that. You go okay if you're good with that.

I'm good with. I'd love to introduce you as my son with that be okay with you or by the way, is there ever a time that would not be okay you little awkward like if your dad were standing next to me were at your soccer game and another friend comes up and I say this is my son and you know your dad is listening to me say this about you that might be a little awkward.

How would you feel about that in the child since you know I don't want you saying that when my dad's room got it.

I'm good with that. What would you like me to say in that moment what, the child is empower the child listen to what's happening there seeing US somebody approachable, loving, I can trust you with the stuff you you care about my feelings. You're not this ogres just tell me what scope what what you really do this in your economy that you not dictate any you're actually connecting with me you care about me.

You do that you're gaining trust and emotional safety. And you just took a huge leap forward, to be a family run. It brings tears to my eyes because I have so many friends whose parents were divorced and felt like they've never seen her in so what you're doing is you're giving the kids a voice and they feel like what I say when I feel matters for couples to think in advance about the issues that may be ahead, not to be caught up in the emotional swirl of and engagement in the infatuation with the love that is there that is beginning to grow and blossom, but to think practically about how to build healthy strong relationships in one of the things I love about Ron deals new book, preparing to blend is the number of exercises he's included in the book projects that you do together as a couple and as a family with your children to help you get ready for the blending that is coming from and there can be challenges ahead. We got to know that going in, but you can you can help reduce some of the severity of the speed bumps your pricing by going through Ron's book preparing to blend. We got the book in our family life today resource Center you can request your copy online@familylifetoday.com or call to get a copy. The number is one 800 FL today given the title of the book is preparing to blend by run deal order on Monday.

Family life to a.com or call 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life and in the word today and don't forget there's an event happening two weeks from now on Thursday, October 14 Friday, October 15 in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. It's a national conference the summit on stepfamily ministries and the focus this year is helping couples prepare back. That's the title prepare. So if you're involved in organizing the premarital counseling in your local church. If you're involved in doing premarital counseling and if you have started doing a lot more premarital counseling with couples who are blending a family or couples who are bringing kids into a first marriage to come to this two day event in Atlanta will do a great job of equipping you to help others prepare to blend. You can find out more about the summit on stepfamily ministries when you go to our website. Family life to.com there is more information available there and back. David Robbins, the person of family life is here with me and David we been hosting these these summit events for many years now and it's always exciting to us to see how God is working in and through the couple to attend to help strengthen blended families and blended marriages. The thing that I love most about the summit on stepfamily ministries is that I've been to several now and the people you meet. There are like-minded. They care about others in a deep, passionate ways is why they're there to learn and I met some people at the summit that have become dear friends over over the last few years and the reason were committed to this is that her vision says every home godly home and every home means every home and whether that's a blended family, whether that's a family in the US suburbs or in the inner city where you live in a mega-city and China are in a village in Africa. We are committed to bringing the gospel and the principles of marriage and family what God offers up in his word to his many homes as possible and there is a rising group of families that are blended families and we want to speak to the felt needs and pain points that meet them where they're at and help their marriages last and I know this vision of every home being a godly home, resonates with many of our listeners and we know that because many of you make this vision possible through your financial support of the ministry either as occasional financial supporters or as monthly legacy partners. Thank you for providing the fuel necessary for this kind of ministry to occur and if you're a regular listener and you never made a donation to support the ongoing work of family life to the this is a good day to do that go to family life to.com donate online or call one 800 FL today to donate over the phone and thanks in advance for partnering with us to help every home become a godly home and we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend and hope you can join us back on Monday when our friend Janelle Brighton Stein is good to be here to talk about how we can mark and mold and shape our children, pointing them in a positive direction and and marking their lives permanently will have that conversation with Janelle on Monday. Hope you can join us for about on behalf of our hosts David and Wilson on Bob Lapine will see you back Monday for another edition of family life, family life today is a production of family accrued ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most


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