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The Christian Way to Deal With a Blended Family

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

Building a blended family takes courage, perseverance, thick skin and determination to provide unconditional love no matter what. The Bible has many examples of blended families, including Jesus’s family with Joseph being Jesus’s stepparent, as well as Jacob with his two wives and two concubines. With many Christian families experiencing second marriages and beyond, it helps to have biblical guidelines.

Unconditional Love

As a Christian stepparent, you should love your stepchildren unconditionally. It's critical that you don't marginalize your stepkids or have obvious preferences for one or more kids over the others, according to Moe and Paige Becnel, founders of Blending a Family Ministry. There has to be respect and acceptance for everyone in the family. As the stepparent, you must open your heart for the new kids -- and allow them to decide how to respond and when, according Terri Clark, author of “Tying the Family Knot” and mom to a blended family. While you might be determined to love your stepchildren, there is no guarantee that they will respond and love you back -- and if they do, it can take some time. According to psychologist Patricia Papernow, author of “Becoming a Stepfamily: Patterns of Development in Remarried Families,” it takes the average stepfamily seven years to integrate sufficiently.

Godly Rules

The rules in a Christian family should apply to everyone. And the most effective way to do this is to follow the biblical admonition Jesus gave in Matthew 7:12 -- “Treat others as you want to be treated.” You can model this by treating your spouse and all the kids with love, kindness and respect. This rule should be simple enough for children to understand, regardless of age. Remember that Paul admonished parents not to exasperate their children in Ephesians 6:4, even when they try your patience.

Extended Family

In a blended family, the extended family includes biological parents, stepparents, biological extended family and those included by marriage. Stepparents need to work cooperatively with biological parents so the children never feel the need to choose between parents, or feel they are in the middle of a tug of war. As a stepparent, you should never speak disparagingly of the biological parent. If you can all be friends and engage in activities together, the kids will win and so might your marriage. Insist that your family treat your stepchildren with courtesy and kindness, even if they don't feel that the stepkids fit in with the rest of the family.

Marriage Relationship

When you have a blended family, you need to take care of your marriage relationship and stand together as a unit, according to Ron Deal, author of “The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family” and founder of As For Me And My House Ministries. Don’t allow the kids to set you at odds with each other. Remember that in Mark 3:25, Jesus said, "A house divided against itself would fall." If you disagree with your spouse about how to discipline the kids or whether to allow the kids to have a certain privilege, move to a private location so you can work it out together -- and then present your decision to the children as an unified couple.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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