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Smart Stepfamilies

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Lauren, from Colorado (submitted December, 2009)


Lauren, from Colorado

Dear Ron,

Thanks so much for your book!!

My husband and I read it recently during a book study hosted by the blended family ministry at our church. We got so much great information from it. We're not yet far enough along in our journey to really be through the wilderness yet... we're at the start of the trail and so far it's great but I have a question. My husband and I have a very strong relationship, and his relationship with my son from my previous marriage couldn't be better. My son is pretty young, so we are blessed in that integrating has been pretty easy so far. On our end the Lord is blessing us richly and life is wonderful!

My concern is my son's biological father. He has also remarried since our divorce, and in the casual interaction that I have with him involving our son (we've severed the relationship down to parenting only at this point and get along fine) I'm concerned about his new marriage. I don't know how things will turn out, but I fear the worst (divorce) could come.

My question is this... I know there's nothing I can do to prevent another divorce on his father's side of things, and nothing I can do to affect his father's new marriage - nor should I! But what can I do to help my son cope if another divorce happens? You mentioned in your book about "velcro" relationships - what should one parent do to help their kids if the other parent is getting into serial commitments like that? Any ideas for coping strategies would be great.

Thanks! Lauren


I've said before that if you are a parent or stepparent in a stepfamily, then you are a grief counselor to children. It's extremely frustrating that your son's biological father is subjecting him to serial marriage and divorce transitions (and you are generally powerless to change it). What you can offer your son is coaching and stability.

Coaching -- Over the years you will offer your son perspective on what is happening in his father's life. Help him identify his emotional reactions (see Emotional Coaching) and plan his responses. In effect, help your son cry, but don't denigrate his father. Your son will still want to look up to him and negative criticism will only confuse your son even more. Speak compassionately of his father (e.g., "I regret that your dad has lost his direction") but plainly (e.g., "a marriage commitment is meant to be kept, not easily thrown away"). This helps bring perspective and alternative training to your son.

Stability -- The positive example of your long-lasting marriage is a powerful contrast to his dad's Velcro relationships. Over the years your son will see the contrast and likely be drawn to the stability of a committed relationship. Be assured that this helps to combat the negative influences of his father.

May God bless!

Related Articles:

When Life Hurts: Understanding Children & Loss 
Helping Children Through the Losses of Life

Between Two Worlds



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