Nuggets of Wisdom from Laura Petherbridge, co-author of The Smart Stepmom

I had the privilege of attending the first “stepmom retreat” this week-end in Dallas, hosted by http://www.blendedandbonded.com/ with Laura Petherbridge speaking. It was a wonderful time of connecting with stepmoms from around the country, meeting stepmom friends I talk with on Twitter and FB, and hearing some nuggets of wisdom from long-time stepmom Laura Petherbridge, co-author of The Smart Stepmom.

 

I want to share a few thoughts I came away with that spoke to my heart in hopes of encouraging you in your stepparenting role. Many I had heard before but they were good reminders for me.

1. God can teach me how to love kids who are hurting me. I ask Him to help me see them through His eyes and He does. “Chosen” love is still love. I can choose to love my stepchildren.

2. Children are fiercely loyal to a biological parent, even if the parent is unkind, abusive, detached, or emotionally unstable. The more dysfunctional the other biological parent is, the less likely the stepchild will bond with the stepparent. I can’t control that.

3. All stepfamilies are formed due to loss. Re-marriage is viewed as another loss for children and the children are at least two years behind the parents in the grieving process. Give them time to heal.

4. Money is going to be tight. My husband is OBLIGATED by God to support his children (I Timothy 5:8). They didn’t choose a stepmother or more siblings.

5. The children who do the best after divorce are those who maintain a healthy relationship with both parents. Stepchildren need alone time with their biological parent, without the stepparent.

6. God will reward your efforts. “Let us not become weary in doing  good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

There is so much more I could share, but instead I encourage you to read Laura’s book. She has walked the path and offers reality with encouragement through her writing.

Do you need encouragement today? What nugget of wisdom spoke to you?

Related Posts:

Marriage is Not Always Blissful, Especially in Blended Families

Tip for Healthy Stepparenting: Learn to Cope with Rejection

Mantra for Stepparents: Don’t Take it Personally

Managing Your Stepfamily’s Finances in a Tight Economy

With three kids in college, our family is learning how to live on a budget again. It’s not easy, but it isn’t the first time finances have been tight at our house.

Most stepfamilies will encounter periods of financial distress. The complexity of: overcoming loss of income from divorce, dispersing child support payments, learning to manage money together with several children, and coping with increasing expenses as the family grows all contribute to a financial burden for a stepfamily.  

So, how do you cope with the stress of too many expenses and not enough money to go around?

For my husband and I, the first thing we do is ask the Lord for wisdom. Are we being good stewards of our money, are we abiding by a budget that allows us to see where our money is being spent, do we have a reasonable plan in place to pay off our debt?

And as we look at our finances together, it’s important that my husband and I are on the same page. It may be necessary to take intentional steps toward reducing our expenses and we must be able to come to an agreement on how to do so.

If one spouse is a shopper and the other is a hoarder, there will be some difficult conversation regarding how money will be spent. But it’s necessary to confront the issue and resolve it before it creates a major problem in the marriage.

It’s also important to hold our children accountable for their part of the financial equation. When money is tight, children can be taught to lower their expectations of a designer-clad wardrobe or the ongoing purchase of  the latest technology gadget. And as they get older, they can be expected to maintain a job and contribute toward the expenses of owning a car, securing auto insurance, and other extra-curricular expenses incurred during the teenage years.

It’s also helpful to have a pool of money for reserve when your family hits a difficult financial period.When my husband lost his job earlier this year, we weren’t prepared for a financial emergency. But the likelihood of job loss is very real in today’s economy and cannot be ignored.

We are living in difficult economic times. But despite sobering statistics, we can trust God’s promises to carry us through the peaks and the valleys. Our family has experienced His provision firsthand this year.

Psalm 23:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Do you have other suggestions for successfully managing your stepfamily’s finances?

Related posts:

Stepfamily Finances: Making it Work

Trusting God with our Finances

Stepfamily Finances: Making it Work

If you live in a stepfamily, it’s likely that money’s tight. Supporting several kids while recovering from life as a single parent takes a toll. If you’re recently divorced, you feel the financial strain of separating your assets and starting over.

When you remarry, it’s not unusual to have conflicting ideas on how to handle your money. You must decide as a couple how to manage the income and expenses together. Do you keep it in two separate pots, divide up the bills, and pay accordingly; or do you trust your new partner in his money handling abilities and put the money in a shared pot?

There’s not a single correct answer to that question. It can work both ways or a combination of both. But here are a few ideas  to help make the choice that’s right for you.

1.  Listen to each other’s opinion on his/her choice of handling the money and why he/she  feels that way. If there were secrets surrounding finances in a previous relationship, it’s natural that your spouse will want some separation at first. If money was mishandled previously, it will also affect one’s choice.

2. Consider the financial history of each spouse and the present condition of your financial position. If  there’s only one income coming in, it’s natural to pool the money into one pot. However, with two incomes and separate payments needed for child support, insurance premiums, or other expenses related to a biological child, you might choose to keep some money separate.

3. Define goals for your family together and how you want to accomplish those goals. If there is considerable debt with one spouse upon marriage, you  may choose to pool your income and work together to pay off the debt. You also want to consider the message you’re sending to your children on how you manage your money and what you want to teach them concerning finances.

4. Recognize the importance of flexibility in managing your money. Don’t get hung up on insisting you must manage your money a certain way because you’ve always done it that way. If you start with separate accounts but decide you want to pool your resources together after a few years, give it a whirl. If it doesn’t work, try a different way.

5. Be fair with one another. Each spouse should have access to some disposable income for discretionary needs without incurring a barrage of questions. It’s also important that the wife and husband both have credit established in their own name.

My husband and I have primarily shared our pool of income and expenses since we married. We have been successful at managing our money together (although with five children, there’s never enough!) We communicate frequently about how our money is spent and each has an equal voice in prioritizing our income and spending needs.

When my stepchildren lost their mother and we were receiving social security benefits for them, we kept that money separate to pay for private school expenses and other costs related directly to them. It was understood that the money allocated from her loss would be spent only for them.

Stepfamily finances can create additional conflict in a marriage. Learning how to make it work takes time and is different for every marriage. But with good communication and flexibility with one another, it can be managed successfully.

How do you manage your finances? Is it working?

Related posts:

Nurture Your Marriage 

Setting Goals and Your Stepfamily

Intentionally Nurturing Your Marriage

Trusting God with our Finances

The insurance bill that came in the mail was much higher than expected. With three teen drivers, insuring five cars is costly. And add one driver with a lead foot and too many accidents, and the cost gets exorbitant!

Money can be a stressful subject for stepfamilies. With several kids to provide for and constant expenses flowing out of the account, money quickly runs out. So, how do you deal with the constant stress of financial concern?

We have learned to find peace in trusting God with our expenses. We currently have two kids in college and a third one coming up next year but we know God will provide.

We have seen God’s faithfulness time and again when finances were tight at our house. When I lost my corporate job and our household income was cut in half, God provided for us. When I chose to return to graduate school with four children at home, God provided.

When my husband’s job was being phased out, God provided for a new job with better benefits and higher income. And when my husband and I were expecting our first child together and I desired to be home, God provided in a way to make it possible.

So when I begin to fret about how we will pay for three kids in college, I reflect on God’s unending faithfulness. I may not be able to see how the puzzle pieces will fit together, but I can trust God is in control.

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:25-26

Are you trusting God with your finances?