photo by dideo
Many times the relationship between a parent and his or her stepchildren can be real tenuous in the beginning. It takes time to build trust between you, transition into your respective roles and develop a level of communication that allows guidance, sharing and friendship.
If an ex-spouse is involved who is lukewarm in his or her spiritual life or, as in our case, lives a life opposite to the godly values we tried to teach, then an added complication exists. You have a much stronger potential for the child to be drawn into worldly perception and behavior. It’s hard to walk away from the ‘freedom’ they see endorsed by a parent they love.
Can a blended Christian family come together as one unit with a unified focus on Christ in the midst of these challenges?
I met Kelly Marsh through Facebook, and when she found out I was doing a series on Christian blended families she shared her story with me. I was so inspired by how she and her husband have created a biblical foundation in their home and how that purposeful parenting has translated into a cohesive family for them that I asked to share it with TGMT readers. She graciously agreed.
She starts with some background:
Our blended family is unique all in it's own, like all I imagine! My husband and I have been together for over 5 years and have been married for over 3. We have an almost 15 year old son (from my husband's previous marriage), and 2 girls, 11 and 6, from my previous marriage. We both have shared parenting of them and have them on the same schedule.
Conveniently both of our ex-spouses live within minutes of us, and so it works out very well. BUT like all people in this situation there are DAILY stresses with ex spouses, and children going back and forth, schedules, differences in rules and lifestyles, so on and so forth.
Our greatest struggle is not what we have to deal with within our walls and our home, but rather the environment we have to battle against that our children are a part of when they are not with us. Both my stepson's mother and my daughters’ father are what we would classify as "underfunctioning parents". We are put to the test each and every day, but our kids are all worth it.
I had shared a little in the post that I had done that the single most important and family changing thing we have done is to have family devotions. We have found that our kids love the time together to talk, listen, learn, pray and be close. We try to do this each night they are with us, and then we close in prayer together.
We have found it so important that we have each child pray for each other and for us as parents, and then we as parents pray for each of the children. That has strengthened our relationship with our children and step-children, and has strengthened their relationship with each other as well.
Outside of that, we stress involvement in our church as a family and have always tried to find ministries and opportunities for us to serve others or our church as a family. And then the probably most important thing is that we just daily try to seize every opportunity and every situation as a teachable moment to mold and shape our kids to be great Christian young men and women so that Christ is glorified in and through them.
Kelly hit on some very specific actions that she and her husband do that has helped bring their family together and helps the children learn what a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is all about. Did you pick up on them?
- A regularly held family devotion.
- Praying for, with and over each other, including teaching their children to pray.
- Not just church attendance, but involvement in the church.
- Serving together as a family.
- Purposefully taking advantage of (Kelly used the word ‘seize’) opportunities to teach their children about God.
The Marshes are an inspiring example of a Christ-centered family, where God is a really big deal in their home. Does what they do eliminate the problems and challenges they face individually, as a married couple or as a family? Absolutely not, but they are overcoming those problems and challenges because of their focus.
They are also being blessed for their effort. The last thing Kelly said in her message was, “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!” Could anyone say such a thing if they weren’t being blessed?
Kelly, thanks so much for sharing what you and your family have done in your situation. I bet there are others who have advice or inspirational tidbits they could share that would help others in a blended family. Please share them by leaving a comment so others can be blessed.