Participants: Mike and Gayle Tucker
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000087A
00:19 Welcome to 'Marriage in God's Hand."
00:21 We're Mike and Gayle Tucker, from Faith For Today Television
00:24 the co-host of Lifestyle Magazine
00:25 and Mad About Marriage.
00:27 And if you like to check those programs out,
00:28 do so on the web at lifestyle.org
00:32 and madaboutmarriage.com
00:34 We're talking today about a special subject.
00:37 It is something that is very relevant
00:40 to planet earth today and that is Blended Families.
00:44 Blended Families.
00:45 That's not easy, is it?
00:46 No, it is not but it is more and more prevalent today.
00:52 Research shows that most children the United States
00:55 will spend some time in a single parent family
00:59 and, of course, it also means that there's a potential there
01:01 for a blended family as well.
01:04 In fact, our families have just changed in general.
01:07 Back in 1970 according to the census,
01:10 it said that, married couples with families
01:14 made up 40% of the house.
01:16 Children under the age of 18, married families with children
01:19 under the age of 18 made up 40% of the households.
01:21 40% and by 2012 it was only 20%.
01:27 So you can see there that there is a big change
01:28 so that means that a lot of those children
01:31 you know, a lot of...
01:33 It sets up a potential for children
01:34 to be in blended families.
01:36 In blended families and, of course, some of the things
01:38 that affect that are the aging America
01:39 and with fewer people of childbearing age
01:44 but also the fact that divorce
01:46 is so much more prevalent and so you're going to live
01:49 in single parent families and then eventually
01:51 there's the potential for blended families.
01:53 That's right.
01:55 I looked at some statistics from blendedfamilies.net.
01:59 And most of these statistics came from about 2005.
02:01 So it's been a little while we're in 2015 now.
02:05 But even then 50% of the children in the U.S.
02:08 were being raised in blended families.
02:11 And that has not gone down at this point...
02:13 No it has not.
02:14 It continues to rise, 1,300 new step families
02:17 are being formed every day.
02:18 Every day!
02:20 1,300 new step families and that's another name
02:22 for a blended family, step family we've got,
02:25 you know, a wife who already has children,
02:28 husband already has children, you blend them together,
02:31 you've got really a potential there for a lot of stress.
02:36 You do.
02:37 And it also says that about a third of children in the U.S.
02:40 are likely to live in a blended family
02:43 sometime before they're 18 years old.
02:46 So a lot of kids, a lot of families
02:49 are experiencing the blended family experience.
02:51 And yet there are very few resources
02:54 for blended families especially within the Christian church,
02:57 because it's something we've not wanted to talk about
02:59 is divorce, remarriage
03:01 and then the blending of families.
03:02 You know we do marriage seminars frequently
03:06 with the Mad About Marriage all over the country
03:08 and just about every week someone comes up and says,
03:11 "Do you have resources for blended families?
03:13 Because it's putting so much stress on our marriage."
03:16 And one of the places we send people
03:17 is to smart step families is a lot of good resources
03:21 there are Christian resources
03:23 and that's one place to get them,
03:24 but we want to talk about this today as well,
03:26 some of the risks that are involved with this.
03:29 Creating greater conflict within families,
03:31 greater sources for stress within marriage
03:34 within a blended family, what else?
03:37 Well, what are the conflicts that are possible?
03:39 First of all there's parenting style,
03:42 because you have two families, established families,
03:45 who have parenting styles already.
03:47 They may not match up.
03:49 If my style is different than your style
03:50 and we've both got kids and we want to bring these kids
03:52 to which style are we going to choose now?
03:56 And even if you've got
03:57 maybe one person doesn't have children,
03:59 the other person does, there's still a potential
04:02 for conflict there on parenting styles
04:05 because the person who doesn't have children has strong ideas
04:08 about what they would do if they had children
04:10 and now suddenly they have one
04:12 and there's already an established pattern here.
04:16 Another thing is just discipline,
04:18 the history of discipline that already exists...
04:20 What kind of rules?
04:22 Which is, you know, is related to parenting styles,
04:25 but what kind of discipline will we use
04:28 and that may not match up.
04:29 What about the children working,
04:32 working you against each other.
04:34 And that's easily done in a blended family,
04:36 because you've got the ex-spouse
04:39 the biological parent of the children
04:42 who's not living with you, and this new person coming in,
04:45 the step parent, and another biological.
04:48 So again, there's potential for working
04:50 all kinds of miracles by kids
04:53 who get their way in to create conflict.
04:55 Yeah. And they will do so.
04:56 And then there is the potential for step siblings
04:59 not getting along.
05:01 You know, I don't really like my new sister over here.
05:04 I don't really like my new brother.
05:06 And I didn't want to share a room with them
05:09 and there's a lot of potential there.
05:10 How about fairness?
05:12 You're treating your kids
05:13 better than you're treating mine.
05:15 Why are you easier on your kids than you are on mine?
05:16 Are you spending more time with your kids
05:18 than you are with mine?
05:19 So the fairness issue is huge.
05:21 Yeah, and are those things really true
05:23 or is it a matter of perception.
05:25 And you know are the kids kind of kind of perpetuating
05:29 that idea too, you know, they're not being fair to me.
05:31 If I'm new to this home and you've got children.
05:35 What's my role in discipline?
05:37 Do I help discipline these children?
05:39 Do I not?
05:40 Is this something that is appropriate for me to do
05:42 or is it inappropriate.
05:43 What should I do? So there's conflict there.
05:45 And then the financial conflicts,
05:48 because you had different ways of spending your money.
05:52 Two different families, you know,
05:54 maybe one family has focused
05:56 on let's just not spend a lot of money
05:59 let's just spend time doing things together
06:01 so their time has been hiking or bicycling
06:05 or things like that.
06:07 You know maybe they focused on music.
06:09 Maybe the other family has...
06:11 They've invested in putting their kids in Little League
06:14 and they bought all the equipment and they,
06:16 you know, they do piano lessons or those kinds of things.
06:19 So now what do we do in that regard?
06:22 Do these children give up the things
06:25 that they're used to being involved in?
06:27 In order to match what these do or what do we do
06:30 and how do we spend the money?
06:32 And there can be really some stresses there
06:34 because after all if somebody is paying child support
06:38 or alimony from a previous marriage,
06:40 then that of course limits
06:42 the resources available as well.
06:44 And yet there's a responsibility
06:45 to previous children.
06:47 So, you know, what do you do here?
06:49 So the stresses are great
06:50 and if you are in a blended family we're not telling you
06:53 anything you don't already know.
06:54 Oh, Yeah. Old news to you.
06:57 These are the kind of questions that people ask us
06:59 about all the time because they're dealing
07:01 with really stressful issues.
07:03 Well, all right, we've painted a rather grim picture here.
07:07 But now let's talk about some solutions
07:09 and first we want to talk to people
07:10 who have not yet blended a family.
07:13 But maybe considering it. But maybe considering it.
07:16 And it's important that before you start
07:19 you consider all the things we've just talked about
07:22 that you sit down if necessary with a third party
07:25 with a counselor to see if there are things
07:27 that maybe you hadn't even considered
07:28 that need to be considered
07:30 and that you come to a workable plan
07:33 before you blend the family.
07:35 Start with a plan in mind.
07:37 So I would say to sit down first of all and actually
07:40 make a list of the potential conflicts,
07:43 the potential issues as they relate to your specific family.
07:47 So what is it going to be?
07:49 Do we have a potential for this conflict this, this, this,
07:52 make a list.
07:54 And then look at each one of those together realistically
07:57 and like you said, you may need a counselor
07:59 because you may not be able to look at them realistic.
08:02 Yeah, or you might need someone to serve as a third party
08:04 to help arbitrate a deal between the two of you
08:07 to make sure that you find something in,
08:08 in the middle that's going to work,
08:10 something that both of you can be happy with
08:12 that's going to be a healthy solution for the children.
08:15 But I would really encourage you
08:17 not to get married until you've already done this,
08:20 don't figure well we'll figure this out as we go.
08:23 That's never a good plan.
08:25 It's not because it's not only the two of you,
08:27 but you're talking about
08:28 a lot of other little personalities here.
08:30 And if they're maybe teenagers, it's even more difficult,
08:33 so they may be big personalities at that point
08:36 and you're dealing with all of them.
08:38 So before you get married you also need to bring
08:41 the children in on it and talk to them about it
08:44 and see where they stand and give them time
08:48 to get to know the other person,
08:50 give them a lot of time.
08:52 Sometimes people want to rush into getting married
08:55 because it seems like it's going to solve
08:56 a lot of problems and they're, they're lonely.
08:59 Yeah. They want to be married.
09:00 I need help with these kids. Absolutely.
09:03 And the kids need a lot of time so you need to not rush.
09:08 Well, in fact, we interviewed a couple on our program
09:11 Mad About Marriage.
09:14 Who both had children and both of them
09:16 had the children living with them.
09:18 So the man had his children with him
09:19 and the woman had her children with her
09:21 and they decided to do this right.
09:24 And so a good percentage of their dates
09:27 during their dating experience,
09:28 were family events with all the kids together
09:32 to just see how this would work.
09:33 They gave them the kid's time to get to know each other
09:36 as well as the potential step parent
09:40 and they decided not to get married
09:41 until the children were on board with this
09:44 and I applaud that quite frankly.
09:46 Well, you really just go around a lot of the problems
09:50 that you could have otherwise,
09:52 if you know that everybody is on board here,
09:54 you're going to have enough stresses anyway
09:56 but if everybody says, yes, that's going to be helpful.
09:59 So if you're in a situation where you're considering it.
10:02 You know if you're considering getting married
10:04 and blending families,
10:06 be sure that you go through all these steps first.
10:09 It's going to help you a lot. It really will.
10:11 In fact, as I remember the story,
10:15 they had dated for quite a while and then finally
10:18 they wanted to present the idea of merging these two families
10:22 and so they had a family council
10:24 with both families sitting there
10:25 and began to present the idea
10:28 and part of the response from the kids was well
10:30 and it's about time.
10:34 And that's a fantastic response.
10:36 That's what you want.
10:37 Because at that point you're ready to take the step.
10:40 Rather than bringing a kid kicking and screaming
10:42 into something like this,
10:43 it's better to have the child be a part of the process
10:45 and to feel a measure of control
10:47 so much has been out of control for this kid already
10:50 has lost a home.
10:51 You know this child has lost two parents
10:54 living together and a home.
10:56 And it may not have been a perfect home, obviously,
10:58 it wasn't because it ended in divorce,
11:00 but still the child has lost a home
11:02 it's the only home he's known.
11:04 And even if it's a situation where parent had died.
11:08 You know they've lost their home that they have...
11:10 And that was out of this child's control.
11:12 So no control there and all of a sudden
11:14 you're thrust into another family
11:16 that you have no control over.
11:17 Wouldn't it be better to help the child
11:19 be a part of the process and be on board
11:23 before you start this thing
11:25 so that the children buy into it and say,
11:27 "All right, we've got challenges
11:28 but we can make this thing work, this is good for us all."
11:31 So those are the things to do first.
11:34 You know, if you've not gotten married
11:36 and you're considering it, go through those steps first,
11:39 but let's talk to the people who have already married
11:43 they already have a blended family
11:45 and they're saying how do we navigate all of this?
11:47 That's right. It's a difficult situation.
11:50 First thing to do is to be sure that your marriage is strong.
11:54 You're going to have a lot of stresses
12:00 that everybody has when they get married,
12:02 but yours will be intensified.
12:03 Yours are on steroids. That's right.
12:06 It's going to be a lot more if you have kids in the mix.
12:09 So you've got to keep that marriage strong.
12:11 And by the way that's why second marriages fail
12:13 at a higher rate than do first marriages.
12:16 So often it's because of the children
12:18 that are involved with this,
12:20 they put the additional stresses on the home.
12:22 So, yes, you're going to have
12:23 to take special care of your marriage even more
12:26 so than if you were this was the first marriage
12:28 with no children involved.
12:29 That's right.
12:30 Be tender and gentle toward each other,
12:32 keep the romance going,
12:35 be sure that you have time by yourselves...
12:37 And don't feel guilty about taking time by yourselves.
12:39 That's right.
12:40 That's something, you know, you've got all these kids
12:42 you're worried about, don't feel guilty
12:44 because this is good for your children as well as for you.
12:46 Now the same couple that you talked about
12:49 that we interviewed did some other things
12:52 and we want to be sure that people understand
12:54 what they did as well,
12:55 maybe we can talk about that when we come back.
12:57 Let's take a break and when we come back,
12:58 we're going to talk about the additional step they took
13:01 in order to make their blended family work.
13:03 And we'll talk about that in just a moment,
13:05 we'll be right back.