Real Life Leading 58:
10 Commandments of Blended Families
Good morning, and I hope everyone is having an amazing Christmas season. This week, I want to briefly share with you a few thoughts that are near and dear to my heart, thoughts on blended families and holidays. As many of you know, I’m divorced and remarried, and my ex-wife is also remarried. We have two daughters from that marriage, and my ex-wife and her husband have a son who is now a toddler. We all have family from in town and out of town, and so holidays can be complicated. However, I’m also very thankful to say that we’ve been able to put together a pretty good system of working together so that the holidays, though still busy, are much less stressful than they might be.
This past week, my wife and I were in Orlando so that I could deliver a presentation on blended family life, and I shared many of our experiences, some of my my mistakes, and many examples of how blended family life can be made better. The response was extremely encouraging, and I’m hoping it’ll be helpful to you as well. So, this week, here are the Ten Commandments of Blended Families. If you have any questions or feedback, please get in touch and let me know. Also, for more great info on blended families, be sure to check out the work of Ron Deal http://familylifeblended.com/home/. The website and his books are amazing and contain much wisdom.
Ok, without any further delay, here are the 10 Commandments of Blended Family Life:
Over communicate with all adults involved: choose a format/technology that works, and use it. When in doubt, communicate.
Be respectful, calm, and patient with everyone involved, even if you feel like you’re the only one doing it. (“A soft answer turns away wrath”).
Use discernment to learn to choose your battles very carefully: differentiate between personal dislikes and ‘red flag’ issues.
Be willing to graciously give way on minor issues. Yes, this comes with risk, but it’s still the right thing to do sometimes.
Choose to believe the best about the other household, and be sure to celebrate and acknowledge it when you see it.
Express genuine gratitude as often as possible whenever a joint agreement is reached.
Remember every day that you are the adult, and your task is to model maturity and wisdom for your children. Your task is NOT to ‘win’, get revenge, or even get your own way.
Don’t be afraid to ask for 3rd-party help from a counselor, pastor, neutral friend, or someone else that all parties are comfortable with.
Work through your personal issues on your time, NOT in front of or by involving the children.
Be as consistent as possible at both (or all) houses in all areas of life. Also remember that total consistency is impossible, even in traditional families.
These are the foundations for the way our large, complex, four-parent/two-house family has worked for the past five+ years, and we’re very grateful that God has brought us to a pretty great place. It’s still not perfect, but it is much, much better than it might be. It has taken time and effort and tears and hard work on all sides, but it is worth it. The key to all of it is to focus on have the proper mindset, and the actions will follow. Exercise humility (self-forgetfulness), be willing to admit fault and compromise, keep a long-term perspective, and always put the children first.
Merry Christmas, and may you all be blessed!
* Be the adult you want your children to become. (adapted from Gandhi’s quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.”)
Action Step: This week, ask yourself how you can contribute to making your family life (traditional, blended, or anything else) a more positive situation by working with and respecting others.