When a Stepchild Changes Residence

“I think I want to come live with you, Dad.” The stepmom overheard the conversation between her husband and his son. “I want to spend more time with you and Mom said it’s okay.” Oh boy, thought the stepmom.

It’s not uncommon for adolescents who have two biological parents actively involved in their lives, to consider moving in with their nonresidential parent, usually during their teenage years. It is estimated that approximately 20 percent of adolescents change homes during this critical period, either temporarily or long-term.

The move may be perceived as exciting for the nonresidential parent who has longed to have his child live with him. However, the stepparent may be rightfully nervous about the transition. Living with a stepchild is different than having one visit every other week-end.

It’s important to address the fears surrounding the anticipated move. Consider the changes that will take place and how you will deal with them. Talk with your stepchild about the expectations and restrictions governing your home.

Find peace through the transition by relying on the Lord to relieve your fears and calm your anxious spirit. The Apostle Paul reminds us of His peace in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We will only find peace when we turn our worries over to God and allow Him to be in control. His Word promises us He will walk through every challenge with us and strengthen us along the way.

Does your stepchild want to live with you? Are you relying on God’s promises as you deal with the change?

Coping with Change

My stepson moved into an apartment with a college friend the first part of the summer. It is quieter than usual without his rambunctious personality at our house.

My youngest daughter starts her senior year of high school next month. Since she is our fourth child, we are well aware of the inevitable changes that will take place over the next year.

Stepfamilies experience more change, on average, than traditional families. Kids move back and forth, relationships with ex-spouses and other extended family members create change, and new relationships within stepfamilies bring about change. But change allows us to grow in our faith as we seek God’s strength and direction during times of transition.

God asked Abraham to make a significant change at 75 years of age, leaving behind his comfortable surroundings and embarking on unfamiliar territory. Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Wow! What an awesome expression of faith by Abraham.
Although we may not be asked to make such a drastic change, we do often land in unfamiliar territory as stepparents and need to seek God’s direction to guide us through unknown surroundings.

It’s comforting to remember that, when our life is constantly changing, God is unchangeable. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” His faithful presence is our sustaining hope as we navigate the inevitable changes that come our way on our stepfamily journey.

Do you seek God’s direction during times of change?

Summer Break Fast Approaching

With the end of school upon us, many stepfamilies face a new schedule for the summer. Stepkids may come visit for an extended period and our biological kids may leave for several weeks. So, how do we cope with the challenges summer brings?

For the next few posts, I want to offer some specific thoughts on how to manage the changes that go along with a different summer routine.

First, we must learn to embrace flexibility.
That is not easy for me because I like order and schedules and want to know exactly what to expect every day. But I can’t expect that to happen at our house with a blended family of five children. So I’ve learned to make an intentional effort toward flexibility with our schedule and the expectations of our children.

During the summer months, every week is different at our house. During the early years of our marriage there was alot of back and forth with my stepchildren and my biological children. As the children have gotten older and circumstances changed, the schedule has become more constant. But the kids still float in and out of the house regularly due to mission trips, sports camps, and various other activities.

When kids are going back and forth between homes, there is usually more interaction with ex-spouses. So, our flexibility needs to include an open attitude toward more communication with our ex or our spouse’s ex. If that relationship is strained, it is harder to negotiate the summer schedule. But it helps to be proactive. Get the summer calendar out and look at what dates you want to negotiate having the children with you. Or find a week you would like to spend with your spouse and negotiate time with the kids at the other home. Summer is a great time to enjoy some time alone with your mate if you can work the schedule accordingly.

We also need to be flexible toward the behavior of our stepchildren. There may be anger outbursts or periods of withdrawal as they adjust to a new routine in a different home. We need to recognize the changes they go through also when they move from home to home. Leaving friends behind or adjusting to different rules creates additional stress for them. We don’t have to allow disrespect or unkindness, but we can be sympathetic toward their feelings.

Summer brings on new challenges for stepfamilies. I’ll give additional thoughts on how to adjust to the changes next post. What suggestions do you have?