Today’s guest post is from Joanne Kraft, who shares some great tips for blended families.
While speaking at a women’s conference an adorable young mom came up and introduced herself to me. It wasn’t long before we were talking about our family. I asked, “How many children do you have?”
“Three.” She smiled. “My nine year old son is from my husband’s first marriage. Our seven year old and five year old daughters are our biological children.”
I wanted to cry. This sweet gal, without knowing, it had touched a tender spot in me. It happens quite often, actually. If I owned a soap box, I’d climb high above the crowd to shout about labeling children in a blended family. While it was great she called her “un” biological child her son, she set him apart from the rest of the family and told me he was different.
Why does this pain me so?
Because our family is blended. We come from broken beginnings.
According to national statistics, 48% of all families will end in divorce. From that number, 79% of the adults will remarry two and even three times. There are 35 million Americans in the US today who are remarried. There are an additional 36 million Americans who are divorced or widowed. (US Census, 2007) 1 out of 3 Americans is now a stepparent, a stepchild, a stepsibling, or some other member of a stepfamily –a mismatched, disjointed motley crew of people trying very hard to be a family.
That’s a boatload of families under the umbrella of “blended family” attempting to put the pieces of their lives back together again. And, what about foster families? Dont’ forget international adoptions and let’s not overlook single moms and relatives standing in the gap for loved ones and raising little ones.
When I recently sat down with Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, he asked me the ages of my children then followed up by asking how long I’ve been married. When I mention our daughter is twenty years old, then go on to share my husband Paul and I have been married almost fifteen years, it’s not hard to do the math.
“You’re a blended family?” He kindly asked.
“Our family comes from broken beginnings.” I shared. “I married very young and had two little ones before my divorce. My husband and I weren’t Christians. I don’t say that to make an excuse for my divorce but to let you know just how selfish our world was at the time. I know now that God can breathe life into dead things.” I went on to share all God had done in our lives to make things new and whole again.
Jim Daly just smiled and listened. Finally he quietly asked, “Why aren’t you writing a book about this?”
God Doesn’t Call Me His Stepchild
If people don’t know our family intimately they’re always surprised to discover we are a blended family. We don’t use the word “blended”. It’s not that it’s forbidden it’s just never been used. Any labels like half sibling or stepchild make me physically ill. I don’t even know how you can have half a brother, half a child?
When I gave my life to Christ I became His. He doesn’t call me His stepchild. The scriptures say, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 He adopted me and calls me His. I’m not Jewish. Yet, He loves me as His own chosen daughter. He makes no delineation between the promises He makes to me or any of His children. His word says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2Corinthians 5:17
If Christ is our example and He doesn’t label us, why do we label and set apart our own children?
4 Ways to Make Your Child Feel Loved
For those of you who may have never thought of this before, here are a few suggestions from one blended family who has been there.
•Never introduce your son or daughter as your “stepchild” or explain they aren’t your “biological” child. Nothing hurts a little one more than being reminded they are different—especially from their parents.
•Always introduce your son or daughter as just that. I can hear some of you now. “But, what if my stepson won’t call me mom?” Or, “He already has a mom.” If your child isn’t comfortable calling you mom then they shouldn’t call you mom. But, nothing is stopping you from introducing him as your son. It gives a child value and boosts their security and self- esteem when they feel they are loved and belong.
•Never share the whole story. No one needs a play by play of your family’s history—especially when your children are present. Save the intimate details for your best friend and doctor.
•Always gently correct those who label—especially in the presence of your child. I understand people are curious and don’t mean any ill will. When my daughter was working at a coffee house a woman came in and said, “I didn’t realize Samuel was your half-brother.” Meghan was taken aback. She’d never heard that before and kindly corrected her. “Samuel is my brother.” Can you imagine the impact her words would have had had her little brother heard them?
I’m not one to get tattoos, but if I were Revelation 21:5 would be the verse I’d have engraved in bold and swirly cursive letters, “Behold He is making all things new.” Whether you’re in a blended family or are a single parent, remember, God is in the “new things” business. It’s His specialty.
If God can seamlessly put back together the broken pieces of our family, if He can raise His son from the dead, He can raise your family from the ashes, too.
Joanne Kraft is a recovering too-busy mom and the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. A sought-after speaker, Joanne’s articles have been published by Chicken Soup for the Soul, Thriving Family, In
Touch, ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, Kyria, P31 Woman and more. She’s appeared on CBN News, Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, The Harvest Show and Sacramento & Co.
Joanne worked as a 911 Police Dispatcher where she met the love of her life, Paul, while dispatching him to a call. Lifelong Californians, the Kraft family took a cross-country leap of faith and moved to Tennessee to raise their four children Meghan, David, Grace and Samuel and have happily traded their soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits.
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