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Browsing Your Stepfamily’s Trust Issues: Dr. Darrell Bock

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
April 23, 2024 5:15 am

Browsing Your Stepfamily’s Trust Issues: Dr. Darrell Bock

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 23, 2024 5:15 am

Stepfamily life: It's a rollercoaster. Trying to blend different parenting styles, dealing with trust issues, managing finances—it's enough to make anyone's head spin. Is there any hope for relief? Dr. Darrell Bock offers advice on how to patch up those trust issues, get a handle on your finances, and set yourselves up for a brighter tomorrow.

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Connect with Dr. Darrell Bock and catch more of their thoughts on, The Table Podcast. and on Twitter @DBockDTS.

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The stepparent never replaces the biological parent, even if the biological parent is absent, provided the relationship with the biological parent was present enough to establish itself in the relationship with the child. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

You can find us at This is Family Life Today. Here's my question to start our day.

Okay, here we go. What is something a stepparent should never do when trying to bond with a stepchild? Well, my first thought is don't take your stepchild on your honeymoon and not tell them that it's their honeymoon. Because that happened to you. That's what happened to me. I was 12, 13 years old. We go to Europe with my dad and my new mom. Which means you didn't go to the wedding. No, I mean, there was no wedding that I even knew about. And next thing I know, we're in Europe, and I'm scared to death in a hotel in Italy. And I literally go knock on their door because I'm scared and it's like, can I come sleep in your room?

I didn't find out for years. This was their honeymoon night. So maybe that wasn't a good move. You know, my answer would be, this is probably what I would do wrong, is I would want them to love me so much as a stepparent. I'd be like, love me.

I'd put so much pressure on them, and that would make them flee as fast as they could. Well, today we get to listen to a conversation with our director of our blended family ministry at Family Life, Ron Deal. And he sat down with Dr. Darrell Bach, who's a seminary professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. He's written a lot of books and grew up in a stepfamily. And so they started a conversation yesterday that was pretty profound about secrets that stepfamilies carry and how those can impact. And they've got a lot more to talk about today. But let me remind you, if you want, you can sign up for the Blended and Blessed Summit, which is a live stream, which is this weekend.

This weekend. And it's not too late and it's never too late to sign up because they're live streaming. Yeah, you just click and you can jump right in.

And if you jump right in and even miss some of it, you still have the feed and you can watch it anytime you want. So is where you can go to find that. Hey, so just before ending yesterday's broadcast, Ron was pointing out for step parents just that importance of being trustworthy. And if a stepchild doesn't see you as being that trustworthy person, it's going to be so difficult for them to bond with you emotionally. So here's the tricky part. You don't know how long it's going to take a child to open the door of their heart to you.

Longer than you think. But being trustworthy is what you can do to make it easier for them. So today we're picking up that conversation and Ron starts just by thinking about a child who didn't have that strong relationship with their biological parent before the step parent enters into their life. Sometimes that door opens more quickly if, unfortunately, if the biological parent had a very poor relationship with the child. But in other cases, I will say this, Daryl, that works in the opposite direction for a child who longed forever to have a connection with that parent. And now they seem to be even further away. Well, my longing doesn't necessarily die.

I mean, I just wish they would come back and I would finally get what I never had. I can imagine a situation where if you're dealing with, say, a divorce or a case where a parent, biological parent was never around, that the dynamics would be very, very different because of the absence of the parent in the house. But in a case where there was an intact family, the intact family functioned, the intact family functioned fairly functionally, if I can, you know, pile words on top of themselves. That step parent is never going to replace that space that the biological parent had. And to understand that as a step parent coming in is probably pretty important. And then if you build the right kind of trust, you will get to a point, and maybe this is the analogy, you will get to the point where you might be like an aunt or an uncle who you like, okay? But you will never totally replace the space of that biological parent.

That is the exact language that we use here at Family Life Blended and in our Step Family material. Yeah, you're an extended family member who is very dear and near to the child's heart, but you never. I think that's the overarching takeaway to this conversation is you're never going to replace the biological parent, living or deceased. Don't try.

That shouldn't even be the objective. You're going to be an additional person in the life of this child. Some people are very close to their mother-in-law or their mother-in-law. Some people are very close to an uncle or an aunt, and yet they have other extended family members that they're not particularly close to. It works the same way with step family members. The point is grow your relationship based on what you have available today and be trustworthy so that as the door begins to open a little wider for that child, then what they experience in you is something really good.

Darrell, I want to turn the corner just a little bit. We're going to talk about your dad in a minute. I'm also mindful that you gained three step-siblings that were your stepmother's children. How did your relationship and your siblings' relationship with them go from the beginning? My relationship with them was pretty good. She had a young son, the youngest of her three, who was really disrupted by the disruption in her own family past because she was out of a divorce. And so I ended up for a while being like a big brother to this young sibling and actually enjoyed the role, to be honest. She had a middle son who was pretty normal, for lack of a better description, and we just got along. And then the oldest was a daughter, and that was just odd.

We were good with one another, but it was a situation where she was family, but she was not my sister, but she was my sister. That's right. And that was just confusing for me. Yes. And really, she's the only one of the three that I've had some contact with down the road, in part because we both have come to faith since, and she ends up working at a place that's across the street from where our extension is in Houston.

That's a real coincidence. But those relationships all had to be individually negotiated as well, and were, and they were very, very different because of, again, where her siblings were in their own life with their own experience in processing not only what was happening in the larger family from their perspective, but what was happening between us as a result. Looking back, how did your dad take all this family adjustment, new wife, new family, and how the kids reacted? And I'm wondering, how did it impact your dad and stepmom's marriage? I don't know if I know the answer to that entirely, but I would say, you know, he was well aware of how everybody was reacting.

There was no doubt about that. But he was doing his best to manage that. But remember, he was a, I say this, a half absentee dad who was very, traveling a lot, that kind of thing.

And so there was an element of day to day in this that didn't exist because of the way his own life was being managed and where the older, my older siblings were, they were involved in their own lives in their own locations. So it would pop up, I guess the analogy is it's like, what's that game where you got the things that pop up and... Whack-a-mole. Whack-a-mole. It was a little bit like whack-a-mole, you know.

It would show up when everybody was together maybe a little bit, but then it would go away. I know it impacted their relationship to the degree that my stepmom was very aware that her relationship with my older siblings wasn't what it was, say with me or even to some degree with my younger sister who eventually did adjust, I think, to the new reality. But it still was something hard for him to process. But he also was very distracted with the fact that he ran a business that put him out on the road so much and was international and the amount of travel that he was... They eventually located and lived in Bermuda.

So I was in Houston with my sister and he and my stepmom, Margaret, they were in Bermuda, which was nice for me during spring break because I got to go to Bermuda. So everything was kind of dislocated. It wasn't a single household under a single roof. And that obviously was a very important dynamic to the whole thing.

And it probably allowed them to function as a couple without the distraction of the variety of responses they were getting, at least to a degree. You're listening to Family Life today, and we're listening to a portion of the Family Life Blended podcast with Ron Veal and his guest, Dr. Daryl Bock. And by the way, if you're interested, the next Blended and Blessed livestream is this weekend. And I know it's late notice, but it's a livestream, so you can just click in right now.

I mean, it isn't too late to do that., go there. You can find out how you can click in and you don't want to miss it. And you're going to hear stuff like we're just hearing right now. So let's go back and hear some more of Ron and Dr. Daryl Bock's conversation. Jump five years into the new blended family, 10 years in, up to today. I mean, what was the journey five years in? How did it change?

How did it evolve? What eventually happened? You're now out of the house. Your older two siblings were always out of the house, essentially. Dad and stepmom eventually are going to move to Bermuda.

So how did that impact the evolution of the home over time? Well, what happened, of course, was that and this is because the story doesn't have a long ending. My dad passed away of a heart attack when I was 21. They hadn't been married. I don't remember the exact length, but they certainly hadn't been married very, very long.

You know, a few years at best. And my older brother, who had become a lawyer and is a lawyer, was the one who he died of a heart attack in London. He was traveling. So it was my older brother who was a lawyer who went to take care of wrapping everything that's required when that kind of event, sudden event happens. And then we were dropped into negotiations, given the will, with the remainder of the family situation in which he, as a lawyer, and to some degree, was negotiating on behalf of all of us with this stepmom with whom his relationship wasn't necessarily the best. And he was doing the best he could to try and manage being a lawyer, looking after our interests, and dealing with the way he was feeling about this relationship on the other. And that was just a challenge. It's the only way to say it.

Absolutely. And it was very, very hard because one of the things that resulted from the will that my dad wrote was that he divided things pretty equally, and that didn't sit well with some of my siblings. I have to just throw this in there.

Shameless plug. Our book, The Smart Step Family Guide to Financial Planning, outlines this very thing as a big reason why blended families need to have an estate plan. They need to have it in writing and need to have communicated it to the children, young, old, whatever the case may be, so that there are no surprises. So you don't get to a funeral and people are fighting over the estate.

That's something I want to suggest to people. That couldn't have helped the relationships at that point? No. It was very counterproductive in many ways. I will say this, that I think everybody, given those realities, did the best they could with what they were facing. We never devolved into an absolute kind of total separation and that kind of thing. But that was a challenging period for everybody because that was challenging people's sense of allegiances all over the place. Absolutely.

Right. Those really had not come together. I'm curious, were there any ripples to that whole funeral estate debacle? Well, we eventually worked it all out. It just took a long time. Your relationship with your stepmom specifically, I'm wondering if there was any damage to that relationship. Not really because by that time I was in college and was towards the end of my time at the University of Texas and getting ready to transition into going to seminary.

I had come to the Lord in the midst of college, et cetera. So that worked out, I think, reasonably well. The challenges were more about just trying to get through in somewhat a coherent way as a total family all the pressure that those negotiations put on everybody. With my brother, very, I think, responsibly dealing with the position he had been put in as a result.

Doing the best he could, even in some ways despite some of his feelings, to do the best for everybody that he could. Like I said, that was a challenging time, but we got through it. The result was, just to do the longer term, is that basically the family as it was, to the extent that it was, almost totally broke apart. In the sense of, I didn't see my stepmom very much more after that, same tree with the three, her three children, that kind of thing. We kept in touch for a little bit and then it kind of all just dissolved. Do you miss your dad? I miss my dad tremendously. He and I were extremely close.

We can be extremely frank with one another. I wrote him a letter at one point, really close to the time when he had his heart attack, probably one of the last meaningful conversations I had with him because of his travel. Complaining about the fact that I had been put in this position of being a dad and a brother to my sister and that it wasn't fair. That he really needed to own up to being her dad.

He took that well. Our relationship was such that we could speak significantly. Just to show you the quality of this, my dad and my mom came out of a Jewish background. They left Judaism before I was born. So for me to go into Christian ministry on the other end of my story and for them, well, not my mom never knew, but for my dad to understand that's where I was going and why I wanted to serve people, etc. And I thought that was an effective way to do it.

He got that. That kind of shows you the quality of the relationship of having my dad. So yes, I miss my dad. I miss my mom in a completely different way because I never got to say to her, had I known she was dying, I would have wanted to say. Which is, I know I was a pain in the neck for you growing up, but I love you very, very much.

And I appreciate the way you tried to care for me, even in the midst of having to go through what you had to go through. I never got the chance to say that to my mom. And should I see her in heaven, that will be the first thing I will say to her.

How about your stepmom? Do you miss her? I miss her. She's passed away now.

Yeah, I think there was a time when I missed her. There's another element of that that was, she had her role in my dad's life. She certainly had a role in my life, but it's not the same as with my biological mom.

It's just not. I appreciated how she helped me through what were very challenging teenage years in many ways. But it was more, like I said, the analogy is she's more like a relative that you confide in than someone who you think of as being in your inner family. The beauty of what she did with me was she accepted that space and understood it, I think. And we never talked about it, but that's the sense. But I really felt like at times, at certain points in my life, I could tell her what was going on with my life, and she would process it with my best interests in mind. You know, it sounds, Darrell, like she got that and understood her place, and that's what freed you up to like her.

It could be. I was open to it, so that certainly helped. But she reciprocated, I think is actually what you're saying. And she reciprocated in a way in which she wasn't aspiring to be something she could never be. That's right. And that makes a world of difference right there. That's the wisdom that I would want step parents listening to.

There's your takeaway. Pace with the children. Meet them where they are. If they're open to you, great. Walk through that door. If the door is shut, stand gently outside and knock and wait and be patient. And don't assume too much about your role in their life. And when you embrace that and they see that you embrace it, you're not trying to get rid of mom, for example, and Darrell's heart, then all of a sudden, you just become a safer person to invest in.

And that goes a long way towards keeping that door open. You're listening to Family Life Today, and we've been listening to just a portion of the Family Life Blended podcast with Ron Deal and guest, Dr. Darrell Bock. So, Ron, you're with us in the studio now. Let me ask you, were Darrell step-symbling relationships? Were those typical and is that kind of common?

You know, I'm going to say yes and no. Yes, from the standpoint of he had varying relationships with his step-siblings. Some were closer than others. He had one step-brother where he was older and he kind of became a caretaker to that brother. And then he had another relationship with a step-brother that was a little distant, you know, not as close as the other one. And then he commented on his relationship with his step-sister and she was kind of generally the same age as him. And that was just a little strange, a little awkward for them. Now, he's not saying this, but let me just jump off and say, you know, one of the common things we hear in our ministry is from people who say, we have step-siblings, you know, boy and girl, about the same age, going through puberty around the same time or whatever.

And what do we do if there's this romantic attraction or what if something has already happened? How do we respond to that or how do we prevent that from happening? That is awkward. Yes, it is.

I've got an article on my personal website,, about this and it's a very popular article because people are looking for answers. So let me just say this. Have some common sense about boundaries within your home. Be proactive.

You basically have children in the home who are peers to one another, so there's not this natural taboo against attraction or even passing thoughts about them as somebody that, would I date this person, you know, if we were not family? Just that kind of, so common sense about walking around the house and dress and clothes and at night before bedtime, you know, how we handle all those little goodnight hugs and different things. Just think it through.

Don't be naive. That's a message that we give people on a regular basis. That way the boundaries uphold the values you have of honoring one another, respecting each other, and that really helps. Hey, Ron, let me ask you this because Daryl talked a little bit about when the family sort of dissolved, when there's a death in the family. Like when my dad died, virtually I had little to no relationship with my stepmom after that because I don't know. And I heard Daryl say a similar thing.

I'm like, is that pretty common? It is because, you know, in your case, for example, and in his, the connection to a step-parent or step-siblings is through the biological parent. And when that person is no longer around, everybody sort of loses a little motivation to be together. It doesn't mean the relationship just goes completely backwards or turns off, but it varies in case to case. I think everybody listening can relate to this because you've experienced or you know of somebody who experienced a relationship with, you had an in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law because you got married. But really, your relationship with them is because you're married to their brother or sister. And that's, at the end of the day, what brings you together around holidays, traditions, and whatnot. And so if that were to change, people sort of just naturally move away from one another. Again, it's not to say it always happens, but it's fairly common. Well, we're just peppering you with questions after this segment.

But let me ask you this one. You mentioned some finances as a step-family and you've written a book on step-family finances. What role does money play a lot of times in these families? Is it a big role?

It is a big role. And of course, in any family, money is important how you handle it. In blended families, in the beginning, money can either be something that brings you together or something where you end up doubting one another and you distrust the other person. I'm not sure you're taking care of me or my kids or the future. If I were to pass away, can I really trust you to take care of my kids the way I would want you to? All of that is stuff you need to talk through.

And we're firm believers. And in our book, The Smart Step-Family Guide to Financial Planning, we really lay out a plan to help couples come together around these issues, not let them divide them. But the big thing is and what ran into Darryl's family was that was not communicated.

Whatever the estate plan was, it was not communicated to the now adult children. And so they had to weed through that forest trying to figure that out with Darryl's older brother and their stepmother and the relationships weren't necessarily fabulous. And so, wow, it's even more hard at that point. So we want to help people be proactive, get the plan, and communicate the plan so that it doesn't end up causing conflict later. All right, Ron, one last question, I promise. This is it. What's going on this weekend? You got something happening this weekend.

Yeah, we do. Blended and Blessed, our annual live stream. Churches are hosting it for couples. But individual couples listening to us right now can register and be a part of it. It's a live stream.

You can do this last minute. All Day Saturday. Think marriage seminar just for blended family couples. New content this year.

New speakers. It's a great event and we would love to have you jump in. Just go to And this Saturday is an opportunity for you to just touch a little of the ministry that we have available to blended families. Ron, we always love having you with us on Family Life Today.

Yep. Thanks, Ron. Thank you. I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Ron Deal as they've been listening to Dr. Daryl Bock on Family Life Today. Well, as Ron was talking about, the Blended and Blessed one-day marriage event is happening this Saturday.

You can find out more details at or you could find all the details that you need in the show notes at Now, coming up tomorrow, what if you're in a congregation and your pastor confesses that he believes that freedom in Christ is actually a lie? What would you do in that situation?

How would you respond? Well, John L. Moore was that pastor, and he's going to talk about that coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-23 07:22:58 / 2024-04-23 07:33:17 / 10

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