Blending Families, by Dane Tyner

With the increasing prevalence of divorce and remarriage in our society, blended families have become commonplace. If you’re not in one, surely you know someone who is. Though the term “blended families” is fairly new, the circumstance is nearly as old as humanity.

Consider one biblical blended-family, Jacob’s family. His family was not blended by divorce and remarriage, but by polygamy. This patriarch of Israel had two wives and two concubines, and children by each. He married Rachel, the love of his life; but her father deceived him into taking her sister Leah, too. Eventually, each wife gave her personal servant to Jacob in order to provide him more children. It was a quite the dysfunctional family.

We can be thankful that, in our modern blended families, all of the mothers of the children do not live under the same roof, as at Jacob’s house. We must regret, however, that in our blended families, all of one’s children often do not live under the same roof. The core issue of blended families involves children. These children live in a home environment of notable inequality. And this is a seedbed of family conflict.

Whenever biological relationships of children in a home are not equal with both resident parents, the blended family experience is created. The actual unequal relationships in the blended family motivates the children to monitor parental behaviors closely and serves to bias their interpretations of their observations.

In most families, you will see sibling rivalry. Children in every home manifest varying degrees of insecurity and attempts to gain attention. But in a blended family these tend to be more pronounced than in non-blended families.

In most families, signs of parental favoritism (real or apparent) can be found, especially by children looking for them. Those favoritism signs can be real or imagined, subtle or blatant, benign or malignant. This may include instances, hard for a parent to recognize, like: favoring (or seeming to favor) a compliant child over a defiant one, a neat child over a messy one, or a diligent child over a careless one. Again, these parenting challenges can be substantial in the non-blended family. Even in a non-blended family, a child is apt to negatively misinterpret parent-child interactions; in the blended family, this potential is multiplied.

As a parent in a blended family, routine parental acts are often adversely influenced by your guilt or other emotional drives to compensate for loss experienced by your children. These drives can motivate unwise decisions, or at least questionable decisions, which can generate resentment in children and intense marital conflict.

If yours is a blended family, don’t be naive about these critical issues. Recognize the emotional impact of relational inequalities on the children in your care. Maintain an appreciation for the long-term effect of a broken home on a child’s sense of security. Be aware of the emotional drives within you. Communicate openly and honestly within your family about these matters. And finally, manage all of these potentially destructive matters well.

If this sounds somewhat overwhelming, then you’ve heard me. Blending families is not a piece of cake; it’s a challenge. Family life can be challenging under the best of circumstances; and the blended family is not the best circumstance. Still, if it is your circumstance, God can enable you to be victorious. He will require you to face your circumstance honestly. And He would encourage you to humbly seek help, if what you are doing isn’t working.

Building a Blessed Home, by Dane Tyner

Want to make your home more of a place of refuge and delight? Follow this brief biblical advise: Bless and do not curse (Rm 12:14b). Neither of these is merely an attitude or a thought; both are actions we do that impact others, for better or for worse.

None of us really want to be cursed, and most of us consciously crave the blessing of others. This is so critical to life that, in the absence of either cursing or blessing, many will choose to solicit a curse; it is more bearable than being ignored.

The New Testament word most often translated “bless” is the Greek word eulogeo. Its common literal meaning is “to speak well of” or “to give verbal praise.” You might notice its similarity to the English words “eulogy” and “eulogize,” derived from this Greek word.

We are most familiar with the word “eulogy” as a part of a funeral service where someone says nice things about the departed. It is unfortunate that the word “eulogy” is mentally associated exclusively with funerals for most of us. If I am to benefit from it, I need to be eulogized while I am alive.

We all hunger to hear words of praise and affirmation. We all yearn to experience acts that encourage, affirm and build us up. A Christian home ought to be that kind of place. It is not automatically that kind of place. It is not enough that we wish for or even pray for our homes to be blessed. We must practice the disciplines of blessing and not cursing. And we must intentionally teach these disciplines to our children.

Consider these suggestions:

Express appreciation for things done right or well. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of complaining about things that are not acceptable or spectacular. Equally handy is the trap of silence when the acceptable is done. Remember, silence does not bless. Furthermore, in most cases “acceptable” need not be perfection. If all you ever affirm is perfection, you will effectively and unwittingly curse.

Affirm attitudes and character traits, not actions alone. We need affirmation not tied to something we have done. When only affirmed for our accomplishments, we have built in us a performance driven lifestyle, and have difficulty experiencing self-worth detached from things we do. Affirmation in some places where we have failed is valuable, too. To have risked an attempt to do some things is sometimes quite praiseworthy. The child who tried out for the team or the part in the play, even though he/she didn’t get it, warrants affirmation for the attempt.

Bless with actions. Little gifts and acts of service that display thoughtful interest in someone have the power to bless them. Much time or money is not required, just a little investment of yourself.

Affectionate, affirming, non-offensive touch also blesses. Adolescents often act as if they don’t want to be touched; they do. Just don’t embarrass them in public in an attempt to bless them. Find the acceptable times and means to say with touch, “I love you”, “I like you”, “You’re special to me.”

Finally, remember this: Do not curse. Scripture encourages us not only to bless, but admonishes us against cursing. This is important because a little cursing can wipe out a lot of blessing. Be diligent to cut out the cut-downs, cease dispiriting comparisons, stop reminders of past failures, and refrain from prophesying your expectations of future failure.

In your home, perhaps you have a plaque that says, “God bless this home.” Remember, He wants to bless it through you!


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