Lessons from the Blender - Understanding and Helping Blended Families

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As proud father of four in a blended family, Mike shares some of the lessons he has learned. In this powerpoint you will discover some startling facts about blended families, tips from experts in the …

As proud father of four in a blended family, Mike shares some of the lessons he has learned. In this powerpoint you will discover some startling facts about blended families, tips from experts in the field, and hope and guidance from the Bible.

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  • My name is Mike Morency and despite everything that she just told your about me, the most important thing for you to know this morning is that I am the proud father of a blended family. I am not an expert. I do not have ten tips to change the world. In fact, I do not even have it all figured out myself, but I am seeking daily to follow the tips I will share with you today. Fair enough?Awesome, now before we dive in, you all look like you could use a mid-morning snack. Who’s up for a shake?Now our little snack time has another purpose…. I wanted to illustrate for you that no two “blends” are the same, each has it’s own unique ingredients and not all look like you would expect. Our two snacks are referred to as solutions as the ingredients are mixed in such a way that the individual parts break down and become one new element. This is what people think is supposed to happen with blended families.Now let me show you two more blends – show salad dressings – I’m not going make you drink these but want you to note a couple of things.Both dressings are a unique taste that not everyone will like – but some people LOVE…. These two are some of my wife’s favourites.The one is an emulsion where the ingredients stay mixed, but are never fully blendedThe other is a suspension where the ingredients mix, but do not stay that way.
  • I shared this exercise with you because I want you to keep in mind that no two blended families are the same. You will never have the exact same ingredients going in, so you can never expect one blended family to look like another.A truly blended family is rare and usually occurs when the children are very young and there are no other parents involved. In reality, most blended families function more like an emulsion or suspension and develop a shared life experience.
  • What makes one blended family different from another?Ages of children at time of divorce or loss of other parentAges of children at time of remarriagePrevious life experience of parentsInvolvement with other parents, extended familySocio-Economic backgroundsFaith traditionsPhysical, mental, or learning disabilities
  • Types of Blended FamiliesStatistics Canada defines a stepfamily as one in which at least one child was the biological offspring or adopted child of only one of the spouses prior to the relationship. From there, the classify blended families as either “simple” or “complex.” A “simple” blended family comprises biological or adopted children from one and only one of the spouses, all of them pre-dating the relationship.“Complex” blended families have at least one child of each parent and no children of both; at least one child of both parents and at least one from only one parent; or children from both parents and at least one from each.To Stats Canada’s definitions I would add “compound-complex” blended families which are comprised of biological children from one parent, adopted children from one or both parents, with one or more children having a learning disability or mental illness. – This is our story…. Briefly explainAs you can see just getting your head around what a blended family “is” or what it “should” look like is extremely confusing.
  • Facts about Blended FamiliesNow let me give you a few facts about blended families.Step or Blended families were counted in the census for the first time in 2011 and comprised 12.6 per cent of Canadian familiesUnfortunately, Statistics Canada states that 8% to 10% of these families never make the adjustments necessary for effective functioning and very few of them survive five years. The divorce rate hovers around 42 to 49% for first marriages, but rises to 67% for second marriages, and jumps to 74% for third marriages.Experts say takes 3-7 years for a blended family to gel and for everyone to figure out their rolesCan be much longer if:Multiple dominant personalities existFamily members resist change/blendingOne or more members take either a romantic – idealistic view
  • What the “Experts” say:Now, let me give you a few pointers from the experts.Get on the same page - Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse. In effect, whenever you follow this policy, you put your spouse's interests first, where they should be.Accept each other as individuals without trying to change them, the same way we have to accept people in the world outside our home.Make appropriate family decisions together so therefore all parties have a stake in the process and outcome.Keep short accounts with each other and not let issues build up in layers thus causing a volcanic explosion.Celebrate individual accomplishments together AND share each others failings and sorrows.Start and maintain new family traditions – even if it means making up your own holidays.
  • Defer to the Bio-Parent - The steprelationship needs time to develop. It’s important not to be the heavy, but you can't disappear either. When you relax and support the bio-parent, the relationship with your stepchild will form faster. Be the good cop; let the bio-parent be the bad cop. Don't Compete with the other bio parent - don't try to be a better mom or dad than your stepkids’ bio-mom, or a better dad than their bio-dad. No matter what you think of the bio-parent’s style of discipline (or lack thereof) it’s important to respect and acknowledge the strength of the biological connection. Simply be present in the child’s life and avoid “fixing things” or competing with the bio-parent.Discover Your Stepchild's Interests - Discover the things your stepson or stepdaughter likes. Start off as you would with any friendship: find some common ground and do things together that you might both enjoy. Remember, you’re just there to build a relationship appropriately, not to parent or take the place of your stepchild’s mother or father. Come in as a friend or a benevolent aunt or uncle; in other words, choose a role other than “parent” in order to foster the relationship.Get Out of the Way - Let your spouse have one-on-one time with his or her kids—without you. This helps reduce the displacement and loss the child might be feeling, and assures him that he hasn’t been displaced by somebody else. This flies in the face of the myth of “instant family.” Briefly discuss my mistake on this.Act Lovingly Even If You Don't Like Your Stepkids - The reality is that you may never love them as your own—or even like them. And remember, you can’t make your stepkids like you, either! You are the “intruder.” In their minds, you’ve displaced them. But even if you don’t like them, you can learn to act lovingly toward them. Love is an action; so behave in a loving manner toward your stepkids. It may surprise you down the road; as the relationship develops, love just may develop!Find Something Right - Find something good about your stepkids. Instead of focusing on the negative or complaining about them, find something positive to say to your spouse. That gets your husband or wife out of the middle, and puts you in a more positive frame of mind about the kids.
  • The Kingdom Model for Blended Families:Now, you may never have realized it before, but if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you are already a member of the largest, most diverse, and most unusual blended family in history… the family of God. Thankfully, God gave us some tips for family or kingdom relationships in the Beatitudes. Now, I ‘m sure some of you are going to say that Christ is not talking about families here, but He is… he is talking about His family, His kingdom, and our individual families, blended or traditional really should mirror what He wants for His children. So, if you have a bible with you, turn with me to Matthew chapter 5. Slow down and SEE them – v 1a – in the midst of all his teaching, travelling, and healing, Christ was able to slow down and SEE the crowds…. Not as a mass of people, but a individuals who were longing to hear from him. In our busy lives it is far too easy to rush through each day, accomplishing what we need to, interacting with our families only as our responsibilities require and to never really SEE them. Christ set a better example. When we slow down and SEE our children we may just be surprised by what we see.Sit down and let them come to you – v 1b – Jesus did not put up banners, call a family meeting, or issue a list of dictates…. He SAT DOWN and allowed the people to come to him. Only when people come to us on their terms are they every really ready to hear what we may have to say. Someone once said that if a father or mother is trying to lead their children and no one is following, they are really just taking a walk alone.Get over yourself – v 3 & 5 – Christ calls us to be poor in spirit or to recognize that we have nothing and ARE nothing apart from Christ. We ourselves are no better than our children. He also calls us to be meek – now this is not to be confused with weak. A meek parent does not give up on what is right, but is patient, gentle, and long-suffering in their desire to teach. In other words it is not about you being right, but about walking WITH our children on the journey of life and discover.Mourn – In v 4 Christ says that we will be blessed if we mourn. Now I don’t know about you, but anything that could cause me to mourn certainly would not look or feels like a blessing. The reality is, however that it is only when we mourn and let go of OUR hopes, dreams, and expectations of how things “should” in our families, or in our children’s lives that God can begin to work His plans and bring the blessing He promised.Seek Christ FIRST for yourself and your family… 5:6 & 6:33 – This should be self-explanatory, but so many times we forget how important it is to hunger and thirst for righteousness because we are so busy hungering and thirsting for the things of this world. Yet Christ has said that it is in Him that we have our strength and as we see in 6:33 – when we do seek Him first, He will provide all that we need!
  • Set the Spiritual Example – v13-16 – Much to our chagrin, children learn by less by our words than they do by our actions. They are little sponges soaking up our every word, mannerism, actions, and attitude…. So we are to be the model for them. We are to SHINE as examples and in the process we will be seasoning them, preserving them for the days ahead of them. Light is effective when it is held high, not shined in someone’s face and Salt is effective when it is gently rubbed into the meat. So don’t preach AT your children, but let them see the salt and light in you. I could go on here – but when you get home, take a look at chapters 6 and 7 – in them we hear Christ admonish us to give, fast, pray, and trust – these are the things we must be modeling for our children.Let it go! - v38-42 and 6:12 – In families of all types there will be hurts, insults, and injuries. Christ admonishes us to forgive! Satan lives in unforgiveness and loves to destroy families through unsettled accounts. Seek the Lord’s Will – 6:9-10 – This is a tough one for many of us because we know what we want… we want the nice perfect family with the children who get straight A’s, play sports, worship God, and grow up to have great lives. The problem is that God’s plan is a lot more complicated and we know that there will be pain on the journey. The sooner we let our plans for our families and our children go, the sooner His perfect will can be done.Finally LOVE – Really this should not even need to be listed, but so often we treat strangers better than our own loved ones. In6:43-48 Christ admonishes us to love our enemies but in 46-47 He says something rather interesting – almost like He’s giving us a good poke – “6 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” In other words, I really should not have to tell you to unconditionally love those in your own families. In 1 Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul expounds on Love and basically says that nothing else matters without love – not the nice house, not the good grades, not the sports, or careers, or family vacations. Nothing matters – in fact we are kind of annoying – like a clanging gong – if we do not love.There is a lot more in the beatitudes that are relevant to the family and relationships and I would encourage you to spend some time studying it – may I even suggest that you read it over and over for a couple of weeks or a month. I guarantee you will not run out of things to learn from it.
  • Now in closing I want to leave you with one of my all time favourite passages – I Corinthians 13:13 – “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” For blended families to work – in spite of the odds, in spite of the baggage that we carry into them with us, in spite of the hassles, hurts, and hurdles, we must cling to our faith in Christ, continue to hope for the best, and LOVE our spouses and our children unconditionally!!!Let’s pray….

Transcript

  • 1. Lessons from the Blender Mike Morency B.R.E., B.S.W. Family Matters Conference October 19, 2013 To have Mike speak to your church or community group email morencymike@gmail.com
  • 2. • No two blended families are the same! • A truly blended family is rare. • Most blended families develop a shared life experience.
  • 3. Blended Family Differences • Ages of children at time of divorce or loss of other parent • Ages of children at time of remarriage • Previous life experience of parents • Involvement with other parents, extended family • Socio-Economic backgrounds • Faith traditions • Physical, mental, or learning disabilities
  • 4. Types of Blended Families • A step or blended family has at least one child was the biological offspring or adopted child of only one of the spouses prior to the relationship. • A “Simple” blended family has biological or adopted children from one and only one of the spouses, all of them pre-dating the relationship. • “Complex” blended families have at least one child of each parent and no children of both; at least one child of both parents and at least one from only one parent; or children from both parents and at least one from each. • “Compound-Complex” blended families are comprised of biological children from one parent, adopted children from one or both parents, along with one or more children having a learning disability or mental illness.
  • 5. • Blended families comprise 12.6 per cent of Canadian families • 8% to 10% of these families never make the adjustments necessary for effective functioning and very few of them survive five years. • Second marriages have 67% divorce rate, and third marriages have rate of 74% • Takes 3-7 years for a blended family to gel and for everyone to figure out their roles… but can be longer
  • 6. Expert Advice • Get on the same page • Accept each other as individuals • Make appropriate family decisions together • Keep short accounts • Celebrate individual accomplishments • Start and maintain new family traditions
  • 7. More Advice • Defer to the Bio-Parent • Don't Compete with the other bio parent • Discover Your Stepchild's Interests • Get Out of the Way • Act Lovingly Even If You Don't Like Your Stepkids • Find Something Right
  • 8. The Kingdom Model Matthew 5 – 7 & I Corinthians 13 • Slow down and SEE them – Matthew 5:1a • Sit down and let them come to you – Matthew 5:1b • Get over yourself – Matthew 5:3 & 5 • Mourn – Matthew 5:4 • Seek Christ FIRST Matthew 5:6 & 6:33
  • 9. Kingdom Model • Set the Spiritual Example – Matthew 5:13-16 • Let it go! – Matthew 5:38-42 and 6:12 • Seek the Lord’s Will – Matthew 6:9-10 • Finally LOVE – Matthew 6:46-47 & I Corinthians 13
  • 10. What’s Left? “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13
  • 11. Thank You!