In Your Language

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dear Step Families

Combat your Prejudice

The area of blended families is the last frontier of socially sanctioned prejudice. There are activist groups for most sub-populations of Americans. The one population who gets the most legal and social prejudice is step-parents and step-families. I think this is the most insidious place for discrimination. If I write this post within my intentions, I will insult you little and motivate you to do better.

If it is okay to discriminate at home, then how easy does that make it to do it elsewhere? On top of that, we are basically modeling to our children that we CAN and SHOULD prejudice people who are not genetically related to us. Ok, to put that in perspective: how much of the global population to you claim as your genetic family? 

It's not just that step-parents succumb to prejudice, so do the children. But, I'm talking to adults and adults are the ones who need to be the "bigger people." I get it. You were a stepchild once and your stepmother mistreated you. And then, low and behold, you find yourself married to a person who has kids from a previous marriage.

The visceral reaction is to play out those unhealthy dynamics with an INNOCENT child. Your feelings and memories are valid. But they are not valid in this new environment. Don't get me wrong, every one has their pain and needs grace. But, for the love of your spouse, this largely innocent child, and the future of the marriage that holds together your present family, keep your past in your past.

Let me address You Separately


You cannot hurt the child without hurting your spouse that you claim to love. Your spouse will always want you to be the bigger person. Put your adult knickers on. That is the reality. When you fail to put your feelings in check, you will BOTH hurt the child AND your marriage. And there are some very real situations where the step-parent is a God-send to the step-child(ren).


 To that child (falling on deaf ears usually) I say, "You can't hurt your stepparent without hurting your biological parent. You hurt your stepparent and you put the family fabric (the marriage) in jeopardy." But again, a strong marriage can withstand an attack from this angle most times.

Biological Parent:

You have a big responsibility. The introduction will be important to setting the stage for the blended family. You will have to be the relationship expert between your spouse and your children. Of course, the limitation is whether or not they are open to your "counseling." But, if your spouse isn't open to your influence, many would wonder why you got hitched in the first place. 

On the parenting end, you take the helm with your biological child while you facilitate health relationship formation between your spouse and child. Once the relationship is solidified, the parenting must become more shared, as that is the call of marriage- to share burdens and responsibilities. 

[I'm going off of the Bible, marriage seminars and books written by marriage experts and the results we've experienced from taking their advice. The sharing of parenting responsibilities has come into light as my husband is on deployment and I am left behind with his biological son. Thank God we shared parenting beforehand.]

Future Ramifications

The way you handle the blended family will not be isolated to your lifetime. A bad example will be passed down just as easily as a good one.  Remarriage and blended families are only getting more and more common. Remarriages can be beautiful stories of redemption and the power of relationships over DNA. If we can navigate blended families, we will have more tolerance for people who are different from us outside of the household. And, if there are children born of the new marriage, they will not have to take the brunt of being "in the middle of the mess." The babies are the most innocent factors of the blended family equations.

If you're lucky like me, you will and your spouse will be stepparents. Because you both know how it is to be a biological and stepparent, you will have more compassion toward each other in this most honorable and worthwhile road of forging a strong blended family. I'm cheering you guys on! And if you are hurt from your blended family of childhood or presently, please seek some professional help as just good self care. Power to you~

The Life Of Faith

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