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Miranda Writes: The Brady Bunch Doesn’t Live Here Anymore! Part 4




by Omar Miranda



For the past several weeks we’ve been discussing the difficult and often devastating occurrence of divorce and remarriage. This week we’ll finish up our discussion of stepfamilies and discuss the importance of getting along with new stepparents and stepsiblings. We’ll also look at the importance of clarifying new family expectations and dynamics, and dealing with anger, jealousy, and favorites in stepfamilies. Then we’ll wrap up our discussion of divorce and remarriage.

Many times after people get divorced, they end up getting remarried. When that happens, two separate families must somehow blend together. Probably the only thing everyone has in common is that they’re a family that’s incomplete. By getting remarried, parents are trying to complete each other and either begin or continue the process of healing the wound caused by divorce. The bottom line for you is that as a member of a family dealing with divorce, when and if the time comes for the remarriage of your parent(s), you will either have to get on board or resist it. It’s likely that, no matter what reaction you have, the remarriage will happen. I’m not saying that you’ve got to be 100 percent on board with the process or that if you’ve got some serious concerns about this new stepparent’s basic character you should not say something to your parent or another trusted adult; if you have doubts, speak up. But if it’s just that you don’t like the new person because they’re not your biological father or mother—guess what? That’s normal. I know it sounds cheesy, but give it some time. You will feel better about the whole situation after a while.

I know that a lot of teens become and remain angry at the prospect of a parent’s remarriage. These are some of the reasons that have been told to me by different teens through the years:

• These people are not my family.
• Things are different! I don’t know what to expect.
• The relationships are all new and different: stepparents, stepsiblings, and step-extended families (this makes the holidays and special occasions really interesting).
• Discipline is different.
• Schedules are different.
• Different house, town, school, church, friends.
• Just different!

This whole divorce/remarriage thing is different. OK, I get it! But when do you and I let go of the complaining about how different things are and start letting the wounds heal? It’s one thing for teens to complain a little, but it’s a whole different world if you’ve got some serious problems with getting into the swing of things.

I’d like to discuss some problems in getting used to stepfamilies. If they continue for some time, then you need to tell your parents when you exhibit strong feelings of being

• alone dealing with the losses
• torn between two parents or two households
• excluded
• isolated by feelings of guilt and anger
• very uncomfortable with any member of the original family or the stepfamily

In addition, if you are noticing any of the following signs in yourself or a family member or friend, especially if they are lasting or persistent, then you should immediately tell a parent or other trusted adult:

• You vent/direct anger at a particular family member or openly resent a stepparent or parent.
• One of the parents suffers from great stress and is unable to help with your increased emotional needs.
• A stepparent or parent openly favors you or another one of the children or turns against one or more of them.
• Discipline is left to one parent rather than involving both the stepparent and parent.

 Now that we’ve discussed some of the red and really red flags that may arise when you’re trying to come together as a stepfamily, I’d like to talk about some of the major things that stepfamilies need to do. Interestingly enough, they’re called “tasks,” because for a stepfamily to do this right, it takes real work. Research has shown that these tasks are extremely important and should typically be completed within the first one to two years of the formation of a new stepfamily unit. The members of the new blended family need to build strong bonds through

• acknowledging and mourning their losses
• developing new skills in making decisions as a family
• fostering and strengthening new relationships between parents, stepparent and stepchild, and stepsiblings
• supporting one another
• maintaining and nurturing original parent-child relationships.
Here are some very important things that teens need to think about and continue working on as the relationships within the stepfamily continue to grow:
• You have to live in the same house with these people; make trusting relationships the most important focus.
• Give yourself time and permission to develop a workable, healthy relationship with your stepparents and stepsiblings.
• Your natural loyalty to your biological parents and biological siblings may interfere with your acceptance of a step-________ (fill in the blank).
• The cardinal rule for stepparent-stepchild relationships is this: you—the teen—set the pace for their relationship with you. 

Divorce and remarriage are very unnatural. God meant marriage to be for one woman and one man for an entire lifetime. But the selfishness of humanity caused God to have to make some modifications to the original plan and allow divorce and remarriage under a few specific circumstances. This can present some difficult situations. In that light, I want to share with you the most important things that I’ve found to be helpful. I hope you find them useful and that they help you to live and love as Jesus would. Consider these points:

• Submit to God. Die daily to self and choose to be a dead man walking (Galatians 2:20).
• Have the mind of Christ. You and I can begin to think, respond, act, and speak just like Christ (Philippians 2:5).
• Submit to one another. Think about others before yourself (Philippians 2:1-4).
• Treat others the way you would want to be treated (aka the golden rule).
• Judge yourself first. In other words, focus on fixing you. Because that’s all you really can control (Matthew 7:1-5).
• Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen twice as much as you speak (James 1:19, 20).
• Daily seek to have a pure heart and pure motives and intentions (Psalm 139:23, 24).
• Be super patient with each other and forgive each other—a lot (Colossians 3:13).
• Recognize that the only person you have any power to change—is you!
• Love each other deeply! 1 Peter 4:8 says: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (NIV).*

Below I’ve listed some helpful resources that I’ve researched and given my thumbs-up. Much of the information in this series has been adapted from these sources.

• www.successfulstepfamilies.com
• www.stepfamilysurvivalguide.com
• www.troubledwith.org
• Stepliving for Teens: Getting Along With Stepparents, Parents, and Siblings (Plugged In), by Joel D. Block and Susan S. Bartell
• http://www.kids-right.org/rightsof.htm

As always, if you would like to speak with me, you can either call or write me.
Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

*Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973. 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.

 





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