Shadow's From the Past
Learning your new spouse in a second marriage.
Balancing discipline in a
- My kids bring really bad attitudes home with them after visitation. How can I avoid the arguments and resentments that always follow visitation?
Your children are having to make an adjustment between their two worlds--mom's house, and dad's house. Rules and values may differ greatly, along with the way every day life is conducted. Because your children are also torn between the two people they love most in the world, mom and dad, give them a little space in the form of an adjustment period. If visitation is a weekend, give the child a day or two to get back to their old self again and fall back into your routine. If visitation is a week or more, allow more time. During this adjustment period, don't ask questions of the other household--not even an innocent one like, "What did you do this weekend?" Questions of any kind about the other parent's home can be seen as prying. Instead, tell them about your weekend and keep the conversation on neutral ground.
- What is your advice regarding the power struggles that occur between stepparents and stepchildren?
Recognize any resentments that you may be building up in your heart over past offenses with your stepchildren. Because you are the parent, and the adult, you set the tone in the home. Don't allow resentments to color your judgements in giving permission, administering discipline or complimenting good behavior. Look for ways to say "yes" to your stepchild. It is easy to give a quick "no" to a child's request, but take a moment to evaluate the situation honestly to see if you can say "yes". Respect will come more quickly if we lay our offenses at the cross instead of carrying them on our shoulders.
- We have an ex-spouse who makes our lives miserable. How do we cope with this?
Take the high road, even if the road is a little rougher to travel on. Think about what is best for the kids. They love their other mom and dad. Think about how it is for them to be split between the two people they love most in the world. We don't want our children's childhood memories to be clouded with slammed doors and heated arguments between their parents. If we are teaching our children biblical principles and to honor us, we can't stop there. We also have to honor their other parent. Kids learn from example. They love their other parent. We have to show respect toward them by not talking about them in front of the kids. This includes obvious negative body language and gestures whenever a child mentions something that happened at the other parent's home. This doesn't mean we have to bake them cookies or send them a birthday gift, but if we want our children to respect and honor us, we have to respect and honor their other parent as well.
- What do you do when your children don't want to accept their new stepparent's authority?
Blending a family is much like the parable Jesus taught about sewing a new piece of cloth into an old garment. When a stepparent enters an already existing family, that stepparent has to go through a few "washings" to be accepted much like a patch of new denim must be washed before sewing it into an old pair of jeans. Don't try to jump right in giving orders, or you'll be met with a lot of resentment. Instead, whenever there needs to be a parental decision to give permission or discipline, take it behind closed doors with your spouse. After the two of you work through the situation and come to an agreement on it, then let the child's biological parent bring down the decision to their own child. The parents will be presenting a unified front, eliminating a child's tendency to pit one parent against the other. The child will receive discipline and instruction much better when it comes from their own mom or dad. This method of "washing" will get a child used to the new parent without presenting unnecessary conflicts. Over time, the new stepparent will be received by the child as the patch becomes a part of the family. (Did you know in Europe blended families are called patchwork families?)
- How can I edify my stepchild?
Parenting means setting the example, and that includes blended families. Follow these steps to edify your stepchild by extending grace with your words. 1. Wash them down with uplifting words. Compliment and encourage. 2. Think through each and every request to see if you can say "yes." Don't allow resentments to cloud your judgment. 3. When conversations heat up, keep your cool and your tongue under control. Vent your feelings to the Lord, rather than at your kids. 4. Pray earnestly for your kids. God will do the rest.
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