blended family lessons and stepfamily wisdom

Blended Family Lessons: Stepfamily wisdom from unlikely teachers

What blended family lessons are you learning? I’ve discovered that doing life well in a blended family is an ongoing journey. And there are some surprise teachers along the way. In this post, I share some of the lessons I’m learning.

Keep reading and you might be surprised. because this powerful stepfamily wisdom comes from an unlikely source! 

Laying the Foundation for Blended Family Lessons 

Before diving into what I’m learning about blended family life from my children, let me share a few details that will make this story easier to follow. Mackenzie and Brooklyn, our oldest daughters, are nine and seven-years-old. They love to play soccer, and whenever I tell Addison–our one-year-old–that we are going to get the sisters, she lights up with an enormous grin. Jenny and I are blessed. Our girls care about each other a lot.

This week, Addison and I were picking up the older girls from soccer practice. As the four of us headed to the car, Addison proudly ran alongside her sisters, trying to keep up. That was when one of Mackenzie’s friends blurted out, “Awww, she’s so cute. I didn’t know you had another sister! I thought you only had a baby brother?”

Mackenzie smiled and shouted back, “That’s because I have two families… a dad and a step-mom, and a mom and a step-dad. I have a baby brother at one home and a little sister at the other.”

I couldn’t have been prouder. The phrase, “I have two families,” comes easy for Mackenzie. She speaks these words confidently, without any shame or embarrassment.

Step Family Wisdom on Letting Go of Blended Family Guilt

No blended family is 100 percent planned. Mom’s and dad’s don’t enter into marriage hoping to get divorced and remarried–that would be absurd! Children who are adopted–even those adopted into great homes–never plan on leaving their biological families behind. In short, blended families are unnatural. They are not how things are supposed to be.

Because of this, many blended families struggle with guilt on some level.

  • There is the shame of the divorce.
  • The guilt of raising someone else’s children.
  • The disappointment of watching your own biological children bounce back and forth between homes.

Embracing Our Blended Families 

Parenting a blended family is not how I expected my life to turn out. In a recent post, I wrote about how I’m learning to be grateful for my crazy, chaotic, and stormy road. Yet, I’m also discovering that not everyone views our blended family through the same lens that I do.

The words “blended family” remind me that there is a failed marriage in my past,  dredging-up lingering feelings of shame and guilt. Yet, when Mackenzie and Brooklyn talk about their two families, their faces light up. And why shouldn’t they? For Mackenzie and Brooklyn, living in a blended family means:

  • Having two sets of parents who care about them deeply.
  • Having four sets of grandparents who build into their lives.
  • Getting to celebrate many holidays and special occasions twice–once with each family.
  • Benefiting from twice as many family traditions.
  • Building happy memories with both families, all year long.

Some articles suggest that living in a blended family is difficult for children. I’m sure that on some levels, this is true. Yet, I suspect that if my girls had the power to change their situation, they wouldn’t. They really do love their two families.

Why the Blended Family Guilt?

So why do we parents continue to have blended family guilt? This is a question that I have been asking myself this week. Blended families are nothing new. God is not surprised, shocked, or disgusted by them. In fact, just the opposite is true. [Tweet “God deeply cares about you and your blended family.”]

It’s a challenge finding an Old Testament Patriarch who wasn’t connected to a blended family somehow. Polygamy was common in the Old Testament. Isaac married Leah and Rachel. King David–known as a man after God’s own heart–also had multiple wives. Abraham had a son with his maidservant, Hagar. As a result, each of the Old Testament heroes lived in a blended family home.

The Bible is filled with families–who also had a stormy, chaotic, and messy road like me. Nevertheless, God didn’t give up on any of these families. If you are a Christ-follower, then blended family homes are a part of your rich heritage. This heritage continues in the New Testament. Jesus was the son of Mary and the step-son of Joseph. Jesus knows what blended family life is like.

Finally, all Christ-followers are adopted into God’s family. Although I would still propose that blended family life is not ideal, it may be more normal and natural than we think.

Blended Family Joy

Since,

  • God loves blended families…
  • My girls love their two families…

Perhaps I should feel proud of my blended family too. Maybe shame and regret are unnecessary? After all, feeling bad about the situation doesn’t help anyone.

This week, I had the privilege of watching Mackenzie shout, “I have two families,” with an enormous smile on her face. The park was crowded, and many people overheard. Yet, Mackenzie didn’t mind. When it comes to our blended family, I want to be more like my daughter and boldly proclaim,

 love my blended family. Why shouldn’t the world know? 

 

blended family masterpiece

 

Continuing the Conversation on Blended Family Lessons

I bet that at least one of these statements applies to you and your blended family too. This year I am learning to boldly embrace our blended family life. How about you? Use the questions below for further reflection, discussion, and to continue the conversation in the comments below.

  • What blended family lessons are you learning?
  • What step family wisdom in this post most resonated with you?
  • Which of these ideas have you already tried?
  • Which new ides do you need to practice first?
  • Did any of these ideas provide additional clarity on how you should move forward in your blended family home?

Jenny and I always love hearing from you. Now it’s your turn. Keep the conversation going by adding your blended family lessons in the comments below!

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Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

3 thoughts on “Blended Family Lessons: Stepfamily wisdom from unlikely teachers”

  1. Jed, you made two statements here that, in conjunction, got me making a new connection:

    1. “[A blended family] is not how it is supposed to be.”

    2. “Maybe [a blended family] is more normal and natural than we think.”

    Here’s my thought (which, to me, seems pretty cool) – I wonder if the opposite of these two statements might, in conjunction, hold truth:

    1. Maybe a blended family is not normal or natural at all.

    2. Maybe a blended family is exactly how it is supposed to be, in those instances.

    Hear me out.

    You already gave the example of Jesus and Joseph. Was it “natural” or “normal”? No way! It was SUPERNATURAL, designed by God from the start. In other words, it was exactly how it was supposed to be all along.

    How about Moses? Was it normal or natural that all children under a certain age were slaughtered by the government at that time? Nope. Was this part God’s doing? Nope. But was Moses supposed to be given away and found by the daughter of the Pharaoh, to be raised in his home? It seems clear that he was, despite the pain involved, of his mother and family having the joy of this new birth torn suddenly from them and having to watch him be raised in the home of their enemy.

    Hosea was actually instructed by God to marry a prostitute who had several children by different men. Was prostitution natural or normal? No. Was it natural that a single man should learn to care for children that aren’t his and to have to deal with the rumors that surely were circulating regarding his “choice of wife”? Not at all. But was it exactly as it was supposed to be, according to the Grand Design? Once again, yes.

    I think we look at things too often from “down here,” and they look like God, being loving, just chooses to give blended families a “not too bad plan B, even though you guys don’t deserve it.” But the history He chose to reveal to us would seem to say, loud and clear, that while blended families are not “normal or natural” according to human assessment, they are often brought together according to design and with no “mistakes” to it, from God’s perspective.

    1. Hey Erik,

      I absolutely love this. I had been trying to think of a thoughtful and more lengthy reply, but have decided I’m going to keep it short and to the point. Thank you, your thoughts are incredibly encouraging and exactly what I needed to hear. I’ll be passion on these ideas to other blended families in the future.

      I don’t often consider the possibility that this could have been God’s plan all along. Your right. In general, we convince ourselves that God’s plan is neat, and safe. However, as you pointed out, the Bible indicates otherwise.

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