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September 14, 2022 6:00 am
Ron Deal describes some of the unique challenges that couples experience through remarriage and the formation of a stepfamily. He discusses the importance of drawing a “family map,” to identify the complex web of relationships with kids, stepkids, ex-spouses and their partners, and extended family. (Part 2 of 2)
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And Focus on the Family will explore the complicated family dynamics of remarriage.
If you're thinking, I fell in love the person that's really all there is. And because you and I are love kids are to love that we love each other. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they're a little confused by it. Often children experience both things they experience happiness that moms getting married and they like the stepdad and there's something about him that the really drawn to and at the same things a little weird about drawing into him when their biological dad is on somewhere else and spends much time as they would like to but yet I'm spending more time with my stepdad and it is just sort of a confusing place for kids some great insights from Ron Veale today will continue the conversation about remarriage your hostess books president Dr. Jim Daly and on job at John we had a really insightful conversation last time with Ron discussing the complex and sometimes confusing lab of relationships that are created with stepfamily so just is what it is and typically they begin with a couple who have come together after divorce or maybe a death of a spouse. I have two friends are going in the marriage right now. That's what happened but both lost their their spouses and their remarrying, but you add to that mix children biological and step kids to now have to live together and learn to get along and to embrace each other. Don't forget former spouses who may be involved with those kids in their lives plus extended grandparents, maybe not for eight sets of grandparents now made it.
It just does create more complication. I'm very proud to be able to have Ron on to talk about these things so that we can help equip these couples to do the best job they can in Christ to bring that family together and patch those cracks and live for him and therefore help train up those children and make sure they're an example for how to love the Lord and love each other in that family. You run deal has captured a lot of his expertise and insights in the book called preparing to blend the couple's guide to becoming a smart stepfamily and if you'd like a copy, stop by our website.
The link is in the show notes or give us a call 800 K in the word family run welcome back Focus on the Family think it's always good to be here when you get back to family life. They hated Dave and in Delhi.
I will pay before we jump into the content of your book, which is really good and I hope if people missed it last time they can download on smart phone and her go to the website and download it that way because it was really I think was really good. You have mentioned and you use it in your your subtitle becoming a smart stepfamily was that mean I'd like to become smart just because right reason smart as in most of the titles of my books is because when you try to apply First Family answers to second family questions your dumb wow I say now that's interesting but but you have just taken the wrong turn when you get second family answers to second family questions you're getting smarter smarter about the process so many blended family couples are working hard to try to make it all work and actually they're trying to force it to work on their time and in their way and it's just creating more pushback and hesitation from children in a really not helping the process they're hurting their own process and so we help them work smarter not harder.
Yeah, you know last time I'd say we covered a lot of 30,000 foot view issues and I want to drill down a little bit like a 10,000 foot issue here, or sea level finances can tend to be such a struggle and all relationships but in in stepfamilies, blended families, it can really become a big issue I think your research indicated that one in four step couples will have intentional conversations about the find only but that's only yeah 25% yeah what was going on for 75%. Well I think a lot of people are just avoiding it because the assumption of goodwill, and this makes a lot of sense to me with any backup me as a marriage and family minister and therapist who worked in local churches for good part of my career. I didn't talk about finances when I was doing pre-marital counseling with upcoming maybe just skirted pass to make sure you have a bank account. I too have the same assumption how you love each other. It's going to be okay when it comes to blended family couples. In particular, I mean I don't think that's necessarily true with first marriages.
I really know it's not true with blended couples because it is again so much, so much more complex housing to manage money, finances, their assets all the stuff they've acquired a mega put your name on the house to be change beneficiaries on the life insurance and on and on and on it goes. I now think we have a moral obligation in doing premarital prep to help these couples really think through the discover this a few years ago partnered with a couple guys who know a little a lot more about finances than I do and we wrote an entire book on the subject for on stepfamily finances. I had to put something into this book on preparing to blend because I just think we just sort of screwed around it. We want to drill down to how are you going combine money after the wedding.
How are you going to wrestle with long-term estate planning how are you going to deal with beneficiaries on life insurance and etc. etc. etc. if you get married in the mid-50s early 60s. People have a lot of stuff and you know the whole reason the whole. Let's sign this legal document saying what you're not going to get. If I divorce you. The prenup thing. That's what the whole reason that came in to be is because people didn't know what to do with their stuff. We want to help people turn that into an asset for your marriage, not something that divides you and creates animosity around what you're getting are not getting we want to help you see it as we negotiate this. We talk about this we drill down and create a plan so that you and I both feel cared for.
We feel confident that our children be provided for. If the worst happens, and now all of a sudden confidence in our S&S goes up yet.
In fact, you call it the togetherness together yes agreement. I like that I was better than prenup lays out a medical term. Another huge issue.
First step couples can be how they will parent their kids obviously display the number one issue.
If there's kids in the in the picture. I guess it's normal have some divided loyalties and we started talking about that last time, but that's got a break a step parents hard. I mean if the remarriage you've got there. Your biological children in the step spouse is coming in you got these divided loyalties. You don't know how to manage prioritization you feel guilty.
I think moms particularly feel so guilty with the kids and the loss of they've had in the things we talked about how do you how do you gently begin that read prioritization in a smart way back to that word so that you know your new husband is feeling left out your kids are feeling left out and I'm assuming there's no perfect mark, just like I continue on that Sunday. You're hitting it on the days you're going to miss it you know for a lot of couples well for all couples who are raising children, finding parental unity around any given decision is often what makes it the right decision.
Numbing is a lot of gray in parenting we all know that. But when you find unity and how were to move forward. Now we've got to get the right decision for blended family couples. There are multiple layers around this whole parenting dynamic and it depends on if only one adult has kids and they both have kids or maybe they've had it a common child together. There's all kinds of different layers, finding unity is utmost sorting through the layers sorting through your preconceived notions of parenting and your philosophies appearing all those kinds of things that are part of the combination and getting to how are we gonna lead together. What's your role with my kids with my role with your kids sorting through that and in and moving forward is really important.
Let me just say this for years I struggled talking about the dynamics of parenting putting words on it and I and all the previous books have written. I spent a lot of time flushing this out but I never really I don't think I put together a plan that really helped couples walk through a process of deciding how they got a parent together and I think we did that in this book for the first time that's big is big so it starts with how you parent and how was I parent when we grow up with how I've been parenting my three kids who are now in their early 20s and late teens, and how about you and your kids that are in the early teens in the history matters right because kids are used to a certain system and expectations of no consequences. All that matters.
And so it sorta systematically takes them through this dialogue until they get to a place of our here's where were the same. Here's where we differ. Here's where we got some decisions to make. Now what now is figure out how we move forward. That is so important that you know run just through life experience in observing friendships were things have happened.
Spouses of died remarriage occurs or there's a breakup in the family and there's a remarriage. One thing that I've seen that I'd like you to addresses where that stepfather in the cases that I'm thinking of it comes in pretty pretty spiritually disciplined person may be the previous dad didn't have quite that bent and what you see is kind of the reward situation and I know you're going to connect with us because you pry counsel families like this where as long as your dancing to the right to the new stepdad is pretty happy.
But if you're grieving the loss as that child of your loss. Parent, however, that might've occurred in your in a funk.
I mean II know a teenage boy, that is, didn't recover well and stepdad. It just didn't work because he was expecting more obedience, more behavior appropriate behavior out of that sun and it didn't happen and it's kinda tragic to watch it happen and fall apart in the other siblings are doing well and you know, spiritually doing well but there seem to be kind of this reward system there that was perplexing to me. So it sounds like this stepfather in this case is conditional interest of Hezbollah so if he starts pulling back saying, well, you're not performing. That's essentially the message you perform well then you're accepted or embraced mean any parent who does that is sending the wrong message about God right because ultimately this is of all vertical bar parenting is horizontal on earth but is vertical in the hearts and minds and souls of our kids, so I would encourage that that man to say in a what's going on with me. What is it that I and my feeling rejected or disrespected and and so that leads me to want to pull away and back up and and not really invest in you anymore. That's, that's about the stepdad.
That's a journey he's gonna wrestle with.
There's something there in him that is leading him to feel like pulling ways. The only option I would much rather him say I need to lean in, maybe adjust my expectations of this child, but I need to tune into what that kid needs nothing of the Lord leaving the 99 for the one that's right.
And all of us as parents can make that mistake. I'm not going after that example other than it's very instructive about how we parent generally hey Jim, here's the bottom line. Stepparents have an incredible opportunity to minister to the heart of their stepchildren. It doesn't mean it's an easy road. Yeah there's a lot of question marks but press in because I believe you you been positioned. Their guns given you an opportunity to minister their hearts, and please look for ways to do that when I guess one of the things to the observation temperamentally of how all the kids are dealing with the trauma that Lawson in the you know I'm optimistic extrovert, so I'm happy.
I can make it. I'm get along another child may respond differently to that where they literally for years will carry the burden of that situation and they don't get out of it right.
Any you've got to be in tune with that as a parent.
Stepparents yes one of the things we teach stepparents is pace with the child. Pace is meet them where they are.
I hate to say it but you often get the short and the sick is a stepparent you know they're asking you to cook meals and do their laundry and take them to soccer practice and yet they don't really give you their heart they don't really allow you into the inner part is about their life. They just sort of ask stuff from you and that's really a hard place to be is a stepparent.
Is it fair to say that was a stepparent method is the child because you don't have the capacity you gotta earn your way and yes you do have to build that relationship just like here's another great analogy. How to build a friendship with with a new neighbor, you know, run two doors down and hey you guys just moved in on your new best friend. Or how about me because I told you so, exactly, you say that your neighbor I'm angry at you, so that should help us have a friendship that second on the way it works like no you have to meet that new neighbor where they are. Start small.
Find something you have in common and grow from that it's hard as a stepparent to be in that specific situation because you're hoping for more. Jim was often behind this is stepparent who has the biggest heart in the world for these cats wants to help wants the level wants to be considered a family member in their life and that's such a marvelous quality about them were just going to say okay to use that but pace at a level where they can receive they get a lot of emotional stuff there, working through you just can't push yourself on them. You've gotta meet them where they are. Yeah Ron Greif strikes all of us somewhere, somehow. I mean it's part of life.
People are going to hit that grief Valley and that's one thing I want to cover with you because you you are specialist for your tactician. You didn't grow up in a broken home, your you're still married and then your first wife so but you're really astute on these things and what stepfamilies need to do your minister to the stepfamilies.
I so appreciate that. But you have experience grief you and then lost a child, speak to that life experience and tell us what happened and how that has helped you in who you are today. We lost our son Connor when he was 12. It is been 13 years if you guys can imagine now crossed a line this past year where it's been longer without them.
Then we had that was another aftershock milestone you have earthquakes and then you have aftershocks in the aftershocks.
We are very well acquainted with grief and the pain that it brings to your heart and life and how it just never goes away.
You learn how to walk with.
That's I think the challenge of grieving is learning how to walk with the reason this conversations relevant to preparing to blend is because grief and loss is the backdrop it's the undercurrent in which a blended family is formed and it doesn't stop. It carries right into the new blended family in the in the form of little aftershocks right so I want you guys to catch this significant point because we do talk about it in the book and it's really important for pastors as well as couples like the wedding is this monumental moment where there's lots of joy and there's lots of anticipation and excitement for the couple. The romance is culminated in a process of commitment in marriage, and for their children. It is that and all at the same time another aftershock, another ripple of loss in the narrative of the earthquake that gave birth to this moment. So I'm thrilled Dan's walking down the eye with this beautiful woman that's his new wife and she is so kind to me and she has such a big heart and I really really appreciate my stepmom now and at the very same time, it feels so weird to see dad kiss another woman.
It feels so strange that it's not mom in the house asking me to clean up my socks and clean up the bedroom. It is both and and so with joy suite comes loss better and bittersweet creates confusion in children so weddings are about thrill for adults who, if they expect that same reaction from children and don't see it don't get a lot a later life couples who are mirroring with adult children. My kids 30 and 32 there gotta be great with that. What don't you know there can have lost their enemies at the wedding going, where's mom that's the same thing doesn't matter their age. If you can't see that loss as an adult who's Mary and say well you know what, I bet this is hard for you. You wish mom were here. This is so weird habits just strange for you to see me with this other woman. I'm okay with. It's okay. Let's talk about that is the right move to step into that child's sadness so that you can continue grieving forward as a family. One of the things that I really don't like about blended families who say okay, done with the old, in with the new is that in this case of dad getting married. He steps grieving with his children. They stop talking about mom.
They stop going to the cemetery and reminiscing or looking at old photos or videos of mom why because he's now married to another woman and he doesn't want to hurt her for so he has to abandon his children in their loss narrative.
That's another loss that just makes it harder for them to see their stepmom as is again in their world and life inside everybody sort of just get stuck in that awkwardness the way through it is to not be avoiding the past, but to be continuing to talk to grief, to share, to reminisce and at the same time move into the present. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly were hearing wisdom from Ron deal and a lot of his ideas are captured in a terrific book called preparing to blend the couple's guide to becoming a smart stepfamily get your copy of this excellent resource when you call us are numbers 800 the letter a in the word family or check the show notes for all the details so much what you're saying thereon is being the adult in the room.
I'm thinking of younger kids, obviously, not adult children but you do need to be the adult and sometimes it's hard because we we get the lizard brain right and we want to fight down really low and emotionally and just do it because I said doing and that point got a refrain from that because the kids are so fragile right there and they're looking you even in the taunting, that they may be doing there looking to you for stability and some kind of answer that gives them confidence that they were on the right path here. The reason an adult would get controlling in that moment just took a little do so, why can't you get along. She's a great person, why don't you lever the way a lever that's fear right. There's a pain deep inside that says oh no, if my kids don't embrace this with us, our families, not can I and his son to be a blessing to them and I want this whole thing to be a blessing to them. Of course you do. And so your pain and your fear grab you in that moment. And now you gotta get controlling to somehow break through this little moment with your kids know the way to do that is to get soft and chase their pain be the adult and still wrapped up in your own say.
So tell me what's going to has a feel right. Your feel a little worried that if she comes in and you like her.
It's going to be hard on your relationship with your mother or it's hard to remember mom if mom is deceased.
When she's here like tell me what that's like for you now were letting grief do its job and were grieving together. Parent and child so that we can walk together into the new future wealth. Another example that I'm aware of the family. The mom died at young age. Three young children. When he remarried the new stepmom commence all the photos of her said no.
We gotta take all those down, put photos of us that that can be that kind of emotional reaction because you're not understanding the full picture. What's really happening.
It is about you. You and that's not good. We address that recently on the family blended podcast that I do I think is a big temptation there again. Stepmom saying I'm going to come in and we need to make this MySpace and yes you do need to put your fingerprints on your new living space and children need to have photos of them now. Over the mantle know you can say no to that one not in the living room, but in their all that's delicate insane is like whoops right, but it's right you know so it's a both and it is never either or like either or just divides families. Ironically families are trying not to divide that's what you're doing is dividing but both and says we honor the past.
We recognize the present were walking into the future together.
So let's do this as a team, you compare the kind of this merger process.
These two adults come together with kids into this new family as a tank full of water. Had to get there. Well, it's an analogy to think about how the loss that we were talking about earlier. For children, the aftershocks, if there standing in a tank full of water up to their chin and they get another 6 inches.
There are drowning, but you put an adult in that same tank in the water just up to their stomach and other not even close to feeling overwhelmed a little bit of loss for a child is significant. On top of all the other loss is good.
Had it can feel like there drowning. So sometimes their reactions to adults don't make sense I are this from again later life couples my 35-year-olds freaking out about me. My decision to get married, what's going on, want what I want won't he act like an adult will because he's been in a tank full of water and you just added 6 inches you didn't realize it, but for him. This is really overwhelming and again. Don't laugh at it, don't belittle it. Step into that and say tell me what it's like to be you trying to swim in this water and step into that space with them.
That's how you move forward. When people try to sever the past. You are just severing your ability to to blend and be a family that's interesting sever trying to sever the past severs your future desk. I had thought about it that way until the parents were trying to erase and replace the former like that mom doubtless take all the pictures out. I call that erase and replace of the message is she's gone. I'm the new woman in town and this is the way it's going to be know if you try to erase and replace, you will be erased and replaced on how to set parent talk to the new spouse in that way because I can be a lot of pressure. Yeah, I think, especially for dad in the context it's easy to rollover and go okay. As you please. Her right you know she's your new bride. She's obviously emotional about this.
You know the kids will get over it or what.
However you rationalize it, but have what you suggest that put in the context of that husband that man to be able to be firmly gentle me. What's the word yes firmly gentle. I always say chase the pain first so okay honey see you want to take all the pictures down. I'm sensing and you some fear that if the I little remaking. Yes I but you just want to get at what's driving you to get it.
The solution is to erase all the pictures help me understand that part of you that's afraid if there some around what he what's the worst thing that could happen. Talk to me about that and it's not.
I'm trying to talk you out of this, it's I'm listening but working to try to understand what's driving this in you that is always the best place to start. But let me just add another little tip that I think is really useful for people.
This is why listen to a podcast is helpful. This is why tuning into this broadcast podcast and go and let's listen to that together is really useful because now were hearing it from all the different sides and we can be compassionate and empathetic for one another and go.
Oh, the kids need this and you need this and I'm sitting over here seen it this way let's try to figure out how we work this out together rather than it's me and you against them. Yeah, in one of things runners were closer to the right, at a time but you know in these analogies are so common in these contexts that it's you know is just what it is it's going to be hard it's going to have layers of complexity like women same last two days and eat you just have to be the adult in the room and help your kids and your new spouse get through these things affect you.
You caught live and learn to explain. Live and learn and how to apply what everybody lives and learns like every parent delayed lots of mistakes right I have you have and we learn from those things and blended families. Gotta have that same attitude like we know exactly how to carry this out know were going to make a few mistakes but when I got a call it quits or give up on each other. Working to live and learn. Well, again, a great resource whereby Ron deal preparing to blend and I think you know again the spry one of the better. If not, the best books for couples contemplating getting married and what to do as they're going through that process to prepare for all the things are going to happen and that Ross been great to have you on board. Thanks thank you Fran, but we also encourage you to get a copy of this, it may not be directly affecting you, but you have a girlfriend you have somebody in your sphere of influence that might be in the spot. What a great idea to give atonement to say hey I heard about this on focus thought it might help you.
Or maybe it is you and your saying okay I need to be better equipped to understand what I'm walking into either way, get in touch with us and if you can make a gift of any amount will send you a copy of Ron's book is our way saying thank you for being part of the ministry you can afford it, just get in touch with us will trust others will cover the cost of that.
So the main thing is to get this in your hands. Contact us today and if you can make a monthly pledge that be wonderful if you're not the spot to do that one time gift of any amount will certainly make a difference and help us here the ministry and as Jim said if you need the book and can't afford it, let us know that as well. Our numbers 800 the letter a in the word family 800-232-6459 or stop by the program notes for all the details coming up next time Dr. Greg Janssen addresses a very important topic how you can help a friend struggling with depression or even despair. A lot of times a person struggled with lifelong depression or anxiety. There's been a couple missing pieces of the puzzle and so learn to show us what needs to be addressed here and I see like one big puzzle where he put the pieces in their and gods can help direct that behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back.
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