Participants: Mike and Gayle Tucker
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000087B
00:01 Welcome back.
00:03 We're talking about Blended families.
00:05 This is a growing concern within the church
00:08 and with the world in general.
00:10 It is happening with greater frequency,
00:12 and we really need to deal with this issue.
00:14 More and more people in the church
00:15 are experiencing this,
00:17 people in society are experiencing it.
00:19 Now when we were to break,
00:20 we talked about a couple that were taking very great care
00:24 to make sure their marriage was on the right path
00:26 as they blended two families.
00:28 That's right.
00:29 And they got the kids on board,
00:30 but they did something else as well.
00:32 Well, they made a pact with each other
00:33 that they would go to counseling once a month,
00:36 for the first year, needed or not, you know.
00:40 Regardless of whether we need it, we're going.
00:42 Because that was the way they wanted to prioritize
00:45 their marriage to make sure that it stayed strong.
00:47 And it was interesting they said, the results,
00:50 because sometimes some months they would go
00:52 and they would just spend the whole time
00:54 telling the counselor how great it was to be married.
00:57 How thrilled they were with it,
00:58 and they just had a wonderful time.
01:00 Sometimes they said they went knowing that they had an issue.
01:04 Many times they had to deal with the children,
01:07 but it was some kind of issue
01:08 and they really needed help with it,
01:10 and so they would discuss whatever that issue was,
01:13 and they felt that that was very helpful for them.
01:16 Sometimes they said, we went thinking,
01:18 "Oh, you know, everything's good.
01:19 We're alright."
01:21 But when they got there,
01:22 as they began to talk they realized, you know,
01:24 there were, there was something that
01:25 they really did need to work through,
01:27 and the counselor helped them to work through issues.
01:30 And so for them, it was a great help.
01:33 They said, once a month that whole first year,
01:35 and it really kind of solidified
01:37 their marriage for them.
01:38 I think that's very wise.
01:40 They did this whole thing right.
01:42 They did it prayerfully.
01:43 First of all they were a Christian couple,
01:44 they did it prayerfully,
01:46 they involved the entire family,
01:47 both families in the whole process
01:48 so that everyone was on board,
01:50 they worked out the problems in advance,
01:54 like talked about all the issues,
01:55 worked through the third party to make sure
01:57 those issues were covered,
01:58 and then when they got together,
02:00 even then they went to counseling just to make sure
02:03 that this thing is going to work.
02:04 They continued.
02:06 And they, they've been very successful
02:07 with blending their family.
02:08 They have.
02:10 That doesn't mean that it hasn't had challenges.
02:11 No, everyone will have challenges.
02:14 But that was a really good way to approach,
02:15 and especially for them.
02:17 And so I think our first step
02:19 in keeping your blended family strong
02:21 is to keep your marriage strong.
02:24 The second step then is to sit down and make a plan.
02:25 Let's have a plan.
02:26 Let's do, let's plan as a couple.
02:28 So, if you plan as a couple, how you want to handle things,
02:31 you won't know everything that's gonna come out,
02:33 but you can have some basic principles lined up.
02:36 And if you've already blended the family,
02:38 you're already painfully aware
02:40 of what a number of those issues are.
02:42 That's right.
02:43 So since you know them, now let's sit down and find a way
02:47 to navigate your way through these difficult issues,
02:50 and if these are too difficult to do by yourself,
02:53 get a counselor involved,
02:54 someone who can at least serve as referee
02:56 as you work through these terrible issues.
02:58 That's right.
02:59 And then, bring children in on that plan,
03:02 after you have a couple plan, you know,
03:04 you can sit down with the kids, and you can say,
03:06 now mom and dad have gotten together,
03:09 and we think that if\ we can handle these things
03:12 in these specific ways, and talk about, you know,
03:15 the logistics of getting everything done.
03:18 You know, handling the household,
03:19 talk about discipline, talk about--
03:22 The rules-- The time.
03:23 And time.
03:24 And you know talk about the rules,
03:26 all those different things, and then say,
03:27 here's kind of what we're thinking,
03:29 but we want your input, and what do you think,
03:31 so that you begin to create a family plan.
03:35 And then everybody is on board with that,
03:38 you can refer back to it,
03:40 you can handle issues that come up a lot easier
03:43 when you can say, you know, we had a plan as a family,
03:47 we need to stick with it.
03:48 And I think that the older your children are,
03:50 the more of those items on your couple plan,
03:53 you need to be willing to negotiate.
03:56 Obviously, there are some things
03:57 that you will never negotiate, matters of scripture
04:00 and of principle and moral issues,
04:03 you're not going to negotiate.
04:04 But there are other items that you can negotiate.
04:07 And if children feel like they've had input to the plan,
04:11 and their voice is been heard,
04:12 they're more likely to abide by the plan.
04:14 Absolutely. And to embrace the plan.
04:17 They wont feel like they've been left out,
04:19 you know, again, the control issue
04:21 that they don't have control over anything in their lives.
04:23 Now the parents will have veto power on the plan.
04:26 You know, as your setting it up,
04:28 but the children's input needs to be
04:31 sincerely accepted and included.
04:37 Now let's talk a little bit more about the children,
04:38 and recognize certain things about these kids.
04:42 There needs to be a tremendous amount
04:44 of compassion on the part of both parents
04:47 toward the children.
04:48 Yours, mine, ours, it doesn't matter.
04:50 And towards yourself. And toward yourself.
04:52 So, I think the big bullet point is,
04:53 'Be compassionate.'
04:55 There's been a lot that's going on for all of you.
04:58 In order to come to this place,
04:59 so be compassionate with each other,
05:02 realize that there are grief issues at play here.
05:06 Because these children, may be grieving
05:10 what they have lost and you eluded to that earlier.
05:13 They maybe grieving the fact that they don't have,
05:16 they've lost the dream of their parents reuniting.
05:19 Because most children in a divorced situation
05:22 carry that dream with them.
05:24 One day, mommy and daddy
05:25 are gonna get back together.
05:27 We'll have our family together again.
05:28 And now, mom is gotten married,
05:30 or dad is gotten married to someone else.
05:33 So, what happens to the plan, what happens to the dream.
05:35 It's not going to happen. Yeah.
05:36 So they lose that dream,
05:38 and they have to grieve the loss of that dream.
05:39 They lost the family, they have to grieve that,
05:42 and now they lose the dream of reuniting the family.
05:47 It may have even mean a move, changing schools,
05:49 changing communities, changing churches,
05:52 changing friends, more losses
05:54 that they've experienced along the way.
05:55 Yes, so they've lost all those things
05:57 they may have lost, they may grieve the fact that
05:59 they loved their bedroom that they used to have.
06:02 You know, you don't know what's in their mind.
06:04 And what does that imply in their heart, in their mind.
06:08 So you have to be compassionate for them.
06:10 And now, are they sharing a bedroom with a step-sibling?
06:12 I mean, all sorts of elements are coming to play here
06:15 that we have to be aware of.
06:16 And make sure that we're compassionate
06:18 with the children, that we administer to their needs,
06:20 through this whole process.
06:22 If the, if the family,
06:23 if they've lived in a single parent family for some time,
06:26 they may have had quite a bit of time with mom or dad,
06:29 whoever they were living with.
06:30 Now mom and dad's time is divided because,
06:33 they've got this other person,
06:34 you know, they've got a new spouse.
06:37 And may be other children that have been introduced, so again,
06:41 we're spreading this time even more thinly
06:43 across the layer of children and spouse.
06:46 They may be grieving the way the holidays used to be,
06:49 you know, they've had a certain way
06:51 that they've experienced the holidays.
06:53 They've always been at Grandma's house,
06:55 or they've always been here.
06:56 Now that becomes a logistical thing,
06:58 and what are we doing for the holidays
07:00 They lose some of their traditions.
07:02 There are a lot of things there,
07:04 so we have to be compassionate for our children
07:06 and for each other.
07:07 And I think establishing new traditions about having
07:09 the children be a part of understanding of planning
07:12 what the new tradition is.
07:13 Mm-hmm. New family.
07:15 Let's see if we can keep some of the old,
07:17 but maybe there's a need to do away with some of the old,
07:20 because it just is not practical anymore.
07:22 Right. Let's do something new.
07:24 What is our new tradition?
07:25 We're gonna do this year and year out.
07:27 This is a new tradition for our family,
07:29 and if the children can be a part of planning that,
07:32 then it helps take care
07:33 of some of the pain of the loss of the past.
07:35 That's right.
07:36 Um, the word compassion,
07:38 we talked about in another show,
07:41 and one definition for it is, your pain in my heart.
07:44 So feel the pain of the other family members.
07:47 This is a difficult thing for them.
07:49 Be gentle with everyone in the family.
07:52 I think being available and just listening,
07:55 listening to what's going on with them is really important.
07:59 Acknowledge their pain,
08:00 and facilitate their grief process.
08:02 Yeah. It's gonna take time.
08:04 It does.
08:05 But, and I think the other thing is to sit down
08:07 with that child, and help them to know that you understand.
08:11 And you're not judging the fact that
08:13 they're sad about certain things.
08:15 But also help them to begin to accept the new reality.
08:20 And that's gonna be a process,
08:22 but help them to accept the new reality.
08:24 This is where we are now, and these are the things
08:26 that can be joyful about this.
08:29 That's right. As we move forward.
08:30 And if you're the step-parent, your role may,
08:34 first of all you may be hurt by the fact that
08:36 this child is not receiving you as you wanted to be received,
08:39 it may feel like rejection,
08:41 where as the child may feel like,
08:42 if I accept this step-parent,
08:45 is that being disloyal to my dad, or to my mom,
08:49 is that being disloyal to them?
08:51 So they've got these divided loyalties
08:52 they're worried about.
08:54 Be patient with this.
08:55 Don't accept everything
08:56 as a personal or front, or rejection.
08:58 Yeah. Be gentle.
09:00 In fact you might not be as involved with the discipline
09:03 during that time, it may be that more
09:05 the birth parent that is handling that.
09:07 Your role may be simply to be a cheerleader.
09:10 That's right.
09:11 And a compassionate friend for a time.
09:13 You're there to show up, to love, to be compassionate,
09:16 to be the cheerleader, and to just be a companion
09:20 that's there to love them.
09:23 Be a person who has open arms.
09:25 And yet, don't push yourself on them.
09:29 You know, I remember my dad had a philosophy about
09:32 small children, you know, he was older,
09:35 he was actually the age of a grandparent for me
09:38 when I was born, so he was older, and so he would,
09:43 sometimes kids are afraid of older people.
09:45 And he had a philosophy when he was around little children
09:49 he would never try to push himself on them,
09:51 or go up to them, or speak to them.
09:53 But he would just sit back and watch them,
09:55 and he tried to just catch their eye, now and then.
09:57 You know, and smile, or maybe a wink,
09:59 and maybe he would be doing something
10:01 over here that was interesting.
10:02 Yeah. He loved to draw.
10:04 He was great at drawing.
10:05 So, he would just start drawing pictures and pretty soon,
10:08 they would get interested, and he would draw them
10:10 in not by pushing himself on them,
10:13 but by them being interested in what he was doing,
10:16 and showing that he was just friendly and open.
10:18 Then he would take the time to teach them,
10:20 or let them participate with him,
10:21 and whatever it was that he was doing.
10:23 Yeah. Have you ever drawn a dog?
10:24 Yeah. Can you draw a dog?
10:26 You know, then he would show them,
10:27 and I think that's good advice for a step-parent.
10:30 Mm-hmm. You're there.
10:32 You are, you know, you catch their eye
10:34 you let them know I'm warm,
10:36 I'm accepting, I'm caring about you.
10:39 And, and draw them into something
10:41 that they might be interested in.
10:42 Another part of that is just simply
10:44 to be a Godly example to them.
10:48 If indeed they have gone through a difficult divorce,
10:51 they may not have seen much of God,
10:53 in their parents during that time of arguing,
10:57 that facilitated the divorce.
10:59 Now they need to see someone who is a calm, gentle presence,
11:04 that loves Jesus with all his heart, or her heart,
11:08 and is fully devoted to him, and actually typifies
11:12 the characteristics from the life of Christ.
11:15 If they can see that in you,
11:16 eventually they'll be drawn to it.
11:18 And it may take time so you have to be patient.
11:19 It does take time. Yeah.
11:21 Patience is big.
11:23 Focusing I think, on meeting the needs of your children.
11:27 More than on the rules, now rules are important.
11:31 You've got to have some guidelines
11:32 in to keep your family out of chaos.
11:34 Or you'll have chaos. Chaos.
11:35 But focus more on meeting the needs of the children.
11:39 And what are the needs of these children?
11:41 They're the same as the needs of any child, only more so.
11:44 They're on steroids now. That's right.
11:46 And the needs of any child, you know, to be loved,
11:49 to be nurtured, to be accepted,
11:51 to know that they have a place, and they're safe.
11:54 That they are cherished. That's right.
11:56 That they're a part of the family.
11:57 That they belong. Mm-hmm.
11:58 That they are of significance to people in that family,
12:01 and there's a place for them to be nurtured and to grow,
12:05 and to be all that they can be.
12:06 And like you mentioned earlier,
12:08 sometimes those kids are not gonna be
12:09 all warm and fuzzy towards you.
12:11 No, they are not.
12:12 So I think it's also important to remember that
12:14 you are the adult, you are the parent,
12:16 don't react to them in kind.
12:18 When they are, you know, when they're prickly.
12:22 Instead you have maturity in the way you approach them.
12:26 One of the symptoms of grief in children is they act out.
12:28 Mm-hmm. And they regress in behavior.
12:31 They used to tie their shoe, they can't do it anymore.
12:33 They quit wetting the bed, they may start again.
12:36 And so regressive behavior, it's important to see that,
12:39 and be patient with it, be gentle with it,
12:41 but see it for what it is.
12:42 This is a grief reaction, and we're gonna be patient,
12:45 and love you through this whole process.
12:47 And I think the last thing is to focus on joy.
12:50 Let this be a home that has joy and laughter.
12:53 Smile, laugh, we're creating an atmosphere here,
12:58 that will create memories that will be good ones for you.
13:02 The joy means even being willing to accept,
13:04 to laugh at yourself, to laugh at the circumstances,
13:09 and to find happiness in everything you do.
13:11 We're a mess aren't we? Oh, we are such a mess.
13:13 We're gonna laugh about it anyway.
13:15 Yeah. Go forward.
13:16 And when you accept yourself with your own foibles
13:20 and faults, children are more willing to do the same.
13:23 They'll accept you as well, and accept themselves as well.
13:25 I think we have to be in more than survival mode.
13:28 You know, and this is true for all families,
13:30 not just blended families.
13:31 We have to be in more than survival mode.
13:34 Instead we want to be in the mode of joy and contentment,
13:38 and that comes by being intentional.
13:40 Nothing of value is ever established by accident.
13:43 That's right.
13:45 It always takes a plan.
13:46 It took a plan to create the world,
13:48 it took a plan to create you,
13:51 and now it takes a plan to create a healthy family
13:53 with healthy children.
13:55 But the best part is to remember
13:56 that you're not doing this alone.
13:59 Jesus has promised to be with you.
14:01 He will guide you through this process.
14:03 We urge you to include him in your plans,
14:05 because we want you to be madly in love forever.