InTENtionals for Blended Families
“Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, and profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 MSG)
- Expectations minus Reality = Disappointment. Set aside an hour this week to discuss each family member’s expectations for being in this family. It’s better to acknowledge expectations, even if they are unreasonable and can’t be met, than it is to ignore the expectations all together.
- A weekly “Family Meeting” may sound difficult and idealistic, but after you pull it off a few times it will start to make a difference. Providing opportunity to each member of the family to share their feelings and thoughts is healthy, as long as the parents continue to stay in charge of the direction the family heads. Work from an agenda and maintain “rules of engagement”, keeping the family on the high road.
- Parent up – power down. Blended families are particularly vulnerable to power trips. Children will demonstrate power in their words, attitudes, silence and behavior in an attempt to control their parents. A “cool headed” parent can win the day by sticking to their parenting goals without anger. Smile, but confidently follow through without all the drama.
- Spending time together is the only way to get to know another person. Be intentional by scheduling time individually with each member of the family – you may get push-back, especially from teenagers, but whenever you can get into their world and see how they experience life good things can happen.
- Mom and dad do best when they’re on the same page about almost everything. Set aside 60-minutes sometime this week as a couple and make a few important decisions that both of you can agree on and get behind. Put your decisions in print, read them back, agree, pray, commit and then act. The kind of decisions you need to make include – dating policies, curfews, money, responsibilities, friends, school performance, who doing the disciplining, chores, etc.
- Patience is a friend to blended families. We truly show love in a family whenever patience is demonstrated. For the next 48-hours don’t remind, correct, yell, blame or in other way be visibly impatient with your family. You may be churning on the inside, but keep it to yourself. Instead, use words of encouragement, praise, support and love. Of course you need to maintain discipline in the house, but try doing it without impatience – discipline with confidence, not criticism.
- Families that have something to look forward to are happier. Planning a vacation is often more enjoyable than actually going on the vacation. This week get the family together and schedule a few future family activities that everybody in the family will look forward to. Activities such as, hiking, a game night, a movie night, going out to dinner or planning that family vacation for next summer. Anticipation is an important tool for the parents of a blended family.
- The most powerful thing you can do for your family is to pray. Pray for peace, protection and unity. Start a prayer journal and report at the Family Meeting about answered prayer, and thank God together for His faithfulness. If your family lacks spiritual unity, then keep the journal for yourself and enjoy the process of watching God work. Whatever you do, avoid becoming a spiritual nag.
- Make room for hurt. Most blended families are built upon hurt and loss. Getting to “love” through “hurt” is a process that takes time. For the next 30-days, intentionally leave emotional, spiritual and physical room within the family for hurting members to hurt. Inappropriate behavior and attitudes of course need to confronted, but allow grace to move you along the way toward healing and acceptance.
- Give it time. Like seasons of the year, every blended family will experience winter, spring, summer, and fall seasons in building a step family. Holding on to the long view is the best things you can do. Sometime this week get away as a couple and establish several longer range goals for each of you and for the family. At Intentional Living we focus on the 5-essentials of life – Faith, Family, Health, Finances, and Work. Each of these five essentials would be a good place to start.