A blended family is a family that includes children from a previous marriage of the wife, husband, or both parents. For those of us who have been or are currently in a blended family setting, we know all to well the unique dynamics we face day to day. Marriage in and of itself brings challenges of it's own when our lives are joined together as one and in a blended family you have children in the relationship from the start.
According to Jimmy Evans of marriagetoday.com, the divorce rates tend to be higher for a blended family due to the all present set of challenges faced from parenting differences, unresolved feelings, priority in the relationship, etc. Don't let this scare you! I believe it's how we handle our differences, the expectations we have, and the Godly foundation we lay from day one that allows the blended family to thrive and be a success. You don't go into marriage with negative thoughts such as, this is going to be too hard, it might not work, what if I fail? Don't get me wrong with the divorce rate in today's society it sure doesn't make it easy to be positive. It's my opinion however, that's the problem. We live in a so called "microwave society" where everything is done and attained fast and easy with next to little thought about putting hard work into anything, including marriage and family.
Beating the odds of divorce in my opinion is totally possible if we are "smart" about how to overcome the unique barriers which set us apart from biological families, which is to simply understand we each bring value to our newly formed step-family. Nothing's perfect, everything takes work, and most importantly building a strong foundation will take time. In my blended family, one of the things we decided to do right after we married was make necessary adjustments professionally to help meet the needs within the family. For example my husband and I both decided to change our work schedules to allow us more time at home as a blended family. This decision was particularly important for my 6 year old son to help establish a solid foundation for our blended family. Children need stability and a sense of security at all times but even more so during a major life change such as marriage. We focused on building a foundation based on Gods principles for our family and building those strong relationships with each other. The progress we've seen thus far has been amazing and worth every obstacle we've encountered.
One of the major areas we've found most difficult is our difference of opinion in parenting. I'm sure a lot of you are saying, "yes me too". Well let me encourage you, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The one thing I had to realize was if I wanted my son to respect my husband and look to him as the leader and authority in our home, I had to allow room for his parenting style even if I felt there was error. When I don't agree with something my husband has done in his parenting, I address it with him at the proper time. It's important to remember never underestimate their authority in front of the children. This subjects the child to not trusting or respecting the step parents authority. This one was hardest for me. I had been so used to doing it "on my own" I forgot there was someone else's opinion which needed to be considered. We still work at this daily, but we have found working together as a team and being respectful of each one's point of view makes the difference. If you each have a different idea on a parenting issue, my advice is to discuss it, pray about it, and then come to a common ground to handle the situation or issue. By handling it this way, you and your spouse are respectfully submitting to one another and acknowledging the important roles you both play in the marriage as parents.
The bottom line, being a blended family takes time. Make space in your everyday lives to invest in your family and marriage taking it one step at a time. Every family is different and unique in their own way and there is no instruction manual or step by step guide to follow. If I could offer any advice it's to keep your focus on God and allow him to guide you through your journey. You'll be blessed by his unfailing faithfulness and astounded by his grace. With God all things are possible!!
Joshua 24:15, "But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord."