This week I received an unexpected blessing: I was able to come home from school early on Wednesday, all of our evening activities that we had planned were cancelled, and we were able to spend a whole afternoon and evening as a family, even in the midst of a busy week. We spent the time running, playing games, and just generally enjoying each other’s company. That evening as we prayed with the girls at their bedtimes, it reminded me of just how grateful I should be for getting that type of opportunity and how important it is to create even more of them moving forward.
According to Ron Deal’s incredibly helpful book The Smart Step-Family, it takes years (the older the kids at the time of the blend, the more years it takes) for a blended family to fully come together. There’s no rushing the process, and I’m not claiming to have a secret to speed it up. However, what I want to encourage you to do today is to make extra time, and to make sure that you are as involved as you can be in your children’s (and stepchildren’s lives).
In our world, I get to see great examples of this every day: my wife (the girls’ stepmother) is wonderful about spending time with the girls. But even more important, she is involved with the girls: helping them braid/flat iron/curl/(whatever else teenage girls do to) their hair, answering questions about clothing, helping them with sports and gymnastics and homework, etc. The girls know that Mel loves them because of how she treats them and how willing she is to help them with whatever they need. We saw this again on Wednesday: after Mel and I went for a run, we came home and spent the next hour in the back yard playing volleyball and soccer with our girls before going and getting ice cream before dinner.
The girls also get this at their mother’s house, because their stepdad is also involved in their lives and interested in their activities. He has helped coach or been the head coach for multiple years and multiple sports for our younger daughter, and he spends much time taking care of their school’s athletic fields as well; and none of that even mentions the amount of time he and the girls’ mom have spent attending sports games, school events, and other extracurricular activities that the girls are involved in. I’m not sure if he spends as much time helping them with their hair, but then, I don’t really either, so that’s probably ok.
Again, the girls know that all four of their parents care about them because of our willingness and eagerness to be involved in their world and to spend time with them participating in activities they enjoy. Anytime you can create opportunities to cultivate time together, I strongly urge you to do so, and while it won’t necessarily speed up the blending process, it certainly will help develop relationships of love and trust between all of the family members.
Action step: this week, carve our special time to watch a movie, play a game, or go for a walk with your family and enjoy each other’s company. Ask the kids what they’d like to do, and find a way to make it happen.