IN YOUR BLENDED FAMILY
Often in step-families it will appear like a 'campaign' is underway. Sometimes adult parents who share "Joint Custody" tend to move into 'campaign mode', using tactics that are undermining the other parent and are clearly not positive for a child's development. Such tactics teaches manipulation, which raises up a generation of children of divorce that cope using methods that damage people. Often a parent struggling with a step-child, or a parent favoring their own child will 'campaign' in their marriage. We also see children, perhaps struggling to find their identity, create images that aren't really the truth about a parent or step-parent. If you are experiencing this and feel like a 'campaign' is taking place, know that this is common. If we could look into a 'demographic map of blended families' across the USA, 'campaigns' are perhaps taking place in about 4-5 million other households. While that doesn't make us feel better, knowing you're not alone might help bring a sense of balance to what seems shaky.
A lot of the blended family 'campaign' issues (grabbing attention like a FOX NEWS TV ALERT) causing step-families to struggle are often due more to hurts and gaps within the human heart, than long term damage to an adult or child. Children sometimes act out or feel emotionally compelled to state they like one home over the other because of a 'campaign'. It is 'vote for one parents way or feel the consequences'. Adult parents unknowingly don't realize that children simply want to love and be loved by both homes.
We see too many situations where, to please parents in divorce, children will speak the indoctrinated message they know a parent wants to hear. If a parent seeks to hear the bad of the 'other home' they are not providing good leadership for their children. It is saying 'I win the election because the other guy is bad'. As parents, we must LEAD positively and stop this pattern which is rampant in America. With the same fervor we would not let a child emotionally or physically attack a younger sibling, or perhaps even a puppy or kitten, we must let them see we stand for positive and cooperative relationships within the confines of extended family situations.(this of course is barring any true abuse or danger) Often, some parents can't stop the need to punish the other side because of emotional baggage they are carrying.
The Bible gives us encouragement and wisdom that can conquer all these strongholds:
Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
We founded The Bonded Family, our ministry to blended families, because we have ourselves lived through some campaigns, and know them to be part of the trials of step-family life. http://www.thebondedfamily.com/
You can get through a 'campaign' if you look upward for strength. There is only one vote that counts, it is the Lord God Almighty. In many circles we hear, 'sure, sure, easy for you to say'. Secular psychologists get mad at us...but statistics prove the fact of the matter. Those marriages who place God as their foundation, who pray daily, hold a less than 10% divorce rate. The 'world's' divorce rate for re-marriages stands at 70%+. If you are here...reading this...seeking help...wanting hope and encouragement...which stat do you want to be a part of. God is often set aside in blended family scenarios, yet He is only one truly able to be the clear cut 'breakthrough' in any quagmire of circumstances.
We coach families of the value of holding regular 'Family Council Meeting'. These offer a calm and regular arena to not only bond as a family, but to discuss challenges facing the family. Start meetings with a short game or contest or something fun. It gets the classic 'oh no a family meeting' feelings lessened. In this case of 'campaigning', set forth the clear rule that we do not lie about others, or campaign against a person or a household. Remember to let the children share their hearts, but that the Parents are the "Mayor", hold the gavel, and have the authority. Parents must lead and not let a child grow up in a world where at a young age they believe they are in control of the house.
The Golden Rule is timeless in it's eternal messaging. We should live it, and model it, as parents. Then, watch as one day our children grow up to rise above the 'politics' of the world's ways, and become LEADERS in our land.