Good News for Stepfamilies

I encounter divorced parents everyday who neglect healthy parenting because they allow guilt from their divorce to drive their actions. They believe their children will never recover from the pain of divorce.

I refuse to dwell on the negative side of divorce and the emotional scars our children endure. I am fully aware of the consequences of divorce, but I do not believe our children have to suffer permanent scars.

In his book, Stepfamilies, Dr. James Bray outlines a comprehensive nine-year-long study of stepfamilies and reports that, “A stepfamily can heal the scars of divorce.” He goes on to say that, “a loving, well-functioning stepfamily can help restore a youngster’s sense of emotional and psychological well-being.” And–

A strong, stable stepfamily is as capable of nurturing healthy development as a nuclear family.

Wow! I love that! We have the opportunity to raise healthy children in our stepfamily if we offer stability through a loving, well-functioning environment. The responsibility rests with us as parents and stepparents.

So, the question becomes: how do we create a strong, stable stepfamily? I’ll address that next time.

Is your parenting driven by guilt? Have you allowed God’s grace and mercy to release you from your past?

Hope for the Future, Part Two

Before my husband, Randy, and I married, we dreamed of having a child together. But, unfortunately, Randy had chosen to have surgery to prevent more children with his previous wife.

We underestimated the challenges ahead when we blended our four children together. Life soon became consumed with sibling rivalry, conflict with ex-spouses, and daily mundane chores.

The promise of a child together faded into the background but remained etched in my mind.

Five years into our marriage, life settled into a manageable routine. One day, Randy stumbled upon information of a nearby Christian doctor who performed vasectomy reversals. We were surprised to find his surgery fee much more affordable than others we researched in the past. We agreed to pray about the option and necessary steps for the surgery.

God clearly spoke to me during that time through Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Randy arranged for a consult with the doctor. However, the news he received was not favorable. Because of the length of time since Randy’s original surgery and the fact we were both approaching 40 years of age, the likelihood of conceiving a child was slim.

We questioned whether to move forward with the surgery. But as my friend recently remarked, “How can God direct our steps if we’re not taking any?” We knew there were no guarantees, but would regret not seizing the opportunity the procedure offered.

The surgery was a success and I was pregnant three months later! We knew God had intervened to make our dream come true. Randy and I were overwhelmed with the birth of our only child together, Nathan, who united our family with a common thread.

Our hopes and dreams for our stepfamily are different now. We dream of quality time together as a couple as our children grow up. We hope for future spouses and grandchildren. And we take intentional steps to continue to guide our children through transitional periods into adulthood.

What hopes and dreams do you have for your stepfamily? Do you seek the Lord for steps to achieving them?

Hope for the Future, Part One

Have you considered lately what hopes and dreams you have for your stepfamily? Do you face the the future with intentional effort toward achieving your goals?

If we want changes in our stepfamily, we need to first define what changes we’re striving for and what steps we need to take to get there.

Are you pining for relationships with less conflict, more stability and greater understanding of one another? Do you desire full-time custody of your children or stepchildren? Do you need help with financial struggles to find peace in your circumstances?

It’s easy to become comfortable with our present state and neglect the effort it takes to improve our situation. We can settle for mediocrity with little work or strive for excellence with intentional effort.

As my husband and I consider goals for our stepfamily, we ask the Lord to direct our steps in meeting those goals. Proverbs 3:5,6 tells us, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (Amplified)

The Lord knows our deepest desires and heart-felt longings. He wants to give us “the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) But we must include Him in our plans.

In the next post I will continue our discussion on hope for the future with an example of how God allowed a far-reaching dream in our stepfamily to come true.

What are your dreams for your stepfamily? Are you taking steps to achieve them?