Challenges of Blended Families

God wants couples to marry and stay together for life (Rom. 7:2). Unfortunately blending families due to divorce and remarriage is becoming commonplace. Some are still raising children from a previous marriage when they remarry. Children from a former marriage are brought into a new family environment. Complications concerning child rearing often arise in a blended family that were not a problem in the first marriage. 

A big issue is over protection of a child by the biological parent. Because the child has been through so much pain already, there is sometimes an attempt to spare the child further grief. As a result of over protectiveness, the stepparent is often sidestepped in the discipline process. Over protection is usually a by-product of distrust. If one really trusts the new mate completely, they will be allowed to become part of disciplinary concerns. The bond between biological parents and children must not be underestimated. In a new marriage, it is important the biological parent be the primary disciplinarian for the first year or two. Blended family kids are often rebellious. But it is natural for children to rebel against a stepparent at first, for they are trying to find out who is now really in charge. As the marriage grows, so must trust. You can only prove to your children that you trust your mate by sharing all aspects of the child-rearing process. For a child to like their new stepparent is optional; to obey them is mandatory. Love and trust can only grow in an environment of mutual respect. Such respect must be earned.

The phrase often heard in marital counseling sessions is, “My new spouse does not love my biological children like I do.” This statement is often true. However, marriage means joint ownership of everything, including child rearing. When a parent gives more attention to biological children from a former marriage, children birthed into the new marriage often feel rejected. One must give their new spouse time and opportunity to love all the children equally as the family continues to blend and bond. Only by the joint effort and mutual cooperation of both parents can they earn the trust of their children who are merging into a new family and environment.

Blended families have issues much different than those in initial marriages. Alimony, child support, custody and visitation rights are not concerns in the first marriage. However, in later marriages, children are often used as whips to punish ex-spouses and are caught in the middle of family feuds. Functional families talk things out. They dialogue. They converse. They take their families to church to learn about God and His Word. The primary focus must be your marriage, for your mate will be around long after the children are grown and leave home.

Those who have gone through the horror of divorce never want to go through another. The stress and anguish of this experience often scars people for life. However, when one accepts Christ as Savior, their blended family can become a mission field, instead of a mine field. Because there is now more than one family involved, there can be a larger circle of influence. One can now witness to an ex-spouse, stepparents, stepbrothers, stepsisters, stepsons, stepdaughters, grandparents, the in-laws, and those in one’s own biological family.

In the final analysis, these are no easy answers for those who divorce, remarry and blend families. But God has given us the best textbook and rulebook for this task: His Word. As you seek the Lord for answers, the Holy Spirit will help you to build a great family.

Maxim of the Moment

A problem is a chance for you to do your best. - Duke Ellington