How Blended Families Function
About the Guest
Authors Steve and Misty Arterburn talk with blended family expert Ron Deal about the unique way blended families function. Steve and Misty recall bringing three children into the early years of their marriage and what they did to build a firm foundation for their marriage and family.
Steve and Misty Arterburn talk about the unique way blended families function. Steve and Misty recall bringing three children into the early years of their marriage and what they did to build a firm foundation for their family.
Ron: What you’re saying has so much wisdom in it—you’re saying: “I supported my wife as the parent to her children, and I came alongside her as a benevolent uncle to those children. I listened; I played; and I gained their trust and their respect.
“Eventually, I became the guy they text and ask for advice.” That’s a beautiful picture.
I’ve got to just throw this in there. Steve has spoken at our Summit on Stepfamily Ministry that we sponsor, here, at FamilyLife® every year. That’s one of the things we do there—is educate pastors and lay leaders about how they can minister well to stepfamilies in their church and community.
Dennis: And Steve, just comment on what he said; because you are a pastor—
Dennis: —of a local church—how the church can benefit from being trained in better understanding where stepfamilies are and how they can relate to one another.
Steve: Well, I go back to Jeremiah 6:14—it says, “They treat the deep wounds of my people with superficial treatments.” That is something that every pastor needs to memorize, because the issues of step-parenting and stepfamilies are so intricate. You really do need to not try to throw out these Band-Aid kind of answers, and you really need to look at—
—I mean, Ron has spent a lifetime of delving into this to try to come up with the true truth about this. I just hope and pray that you would take a second look at everything you’ve ever said about step-parenting and stepfamilies and be sure that you are being helpful and not hurtful.
Bob: Sounds like you guys were pretty well prepared for the shared parenting journey that you were stepping into. As you look back, if you could have one do-over in how you began the process of step-parenting, what would your do-over be?
Misty: Yes; there’s a night that I remember. It was—I got offended by Madeline, and I really think that it wasn’t helpful for me to be offended. I think the highest aim is connection, and correction must submit to connection—that’s the first thing. Then, once there is a connection and safety, the correction is welcome and effective.
Bob: Hang on. Ron’s writing that down.
Ron: Oh, yes. We’ve got to unpack that, because that is beautiful. It’s absolutely on target, but we’ve got to flesh that out for people because that’s so hard. We want obedience now; right?—we want good behavior. We want everybody, who is watching us in the store with our kids, to go, “Oh, you must be a fabulous parent; because look at how your child is behaving.” When obedience is the priority, then you stop being able to connect, in particular as a stepparent.
So how do you slow yourself down, as a stepmom? How did you slow yourself down to go: “You know what? Connection is the priority here”?
Misty: Well, I think it started with the healing processes that we went through—that we fall short of the glory of God, and here are these children—they are trying to make sense of their lives. They are trying to grow up—they don’t know everything / they don’t have everything—maybe, they had too much sugar today, and it has nothing to do with defiance and rebellion.
Maybe, they didn’t get enough sleep last night. Maybe, it’s a very basic need: “Do I have compassion or not?” If my child is misbehaving or doing things that aren’t pleasing to me: “Well, what’s it about? What’s the underlying issue?”
Steve: Now, I just have to say this—as she talks about breaking connection and being more interested in correction, one of the things that we talk about in bonus parenting is: “Don’t be the stepparent that’s always right. Be the bonus parent who humbly and willingly admits mistakes and makes amends.”
Last night, when I’m telling Madeline we’re going to come talk about this experience, I said, “So what is it that Misty did so well with you?” She says, “Connection and communication.” Now, why did she say that all these years later?—because Misty didn’t stay there; she made amends. She came after her, from a humble perspective, after realizing, “That didn’t go too well.”
Steve: That’s what the stepparent is so afraid to do—that they’re never going to be viewed as a great person.
Well, actually, you’re going to be viewed as a very great person when you’re humble.
Misty: And we make things mean something about us when, really, it’s about this child—
Ron: That’s right.
Misty: —and what they’re—there is some skill that they don’t have to cope with their situation. My job and privilege, as the mother, is to help them figure out what skill they need to handle that situation.
Ron: I’ve just got to add one more thought to this. Just this morning, we were recording another FamilyLife Blended radio feature. I was talking about putting on thick skin. It’s a hard thing to say: “But sometimes, stepparents, you’ve just got to put on your thick skin.”
As you said, not everything is about you. Sometimes, it’s about sugar; you know? Sometimes, it is about the past. Kids do have hurts and wounds on their heart, and they act out just like the rest of us do. It still doesn’t mean that it’s a rejection of you. It doesn’t mean that your life is over. Let that bullet bounce a little bit. Ask God to give you the strength and courage to bear up under it. Find a way to put on compassion in that moment.
You’ll probably find that the kid softens, and you soften, and you move past it.
Bob: I want to find out about a do-over for you, Steve. If you could go back to the first year or two and have a do-over, can you think of something?
Steve: Well, I think it was being gone too much and travelling too much versus saying: “You know what? I need to carve out this time and spend more time with them.” I think that would have been really valuable.
Bob: Blending takes—
Bob: —time, and intentionality, and effort. You can’t just think, “Oh, this will happen”; right?
Steve: No; that’s right. It’s not easy, but the rewards later—I thought that these boys were an obligation that I had to fulfill to be married to Misty. They are two of the greatest blessings in my life.
Dennis: Sometimes, it’s good to go out to the end of a matter and just be reminded of the big picture. That’s what the Book of 1 Peter does—in Chapter 4, it says this:
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
Steve: There you are.
Dennis: Now, that’s true of a blended family and—
Bob: —true at our house!
Dennis: —my house as well!
Misty: I sure need it.
Dennis: I’m just telling you—some listeners today need to be reminded, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” I think Misty demonstrated the attitude, repeatedly, this week on the broadcast, talking about humbling down—
Dennis: —bending your will toward the God of the universe and say, “God, I was wrong,” and then stepping back up—not wallowing in your mistake, and reliving it, and blaming and shaming yourself, but instead, go: “You know what? I’m going to use that as a tool toward learning and growing as a follower of Christ.
“I’m going to step back up, and I’m going to love because God first loved me.”
Misty: That’s right.
Dennis: Misty/Steve, thanks for modeling these—not perfectly—
Dennis: —I’m not going to set you up for failure there—but thank you for being open and honest and sharing your love for Christ but also your love for one another.
I just have to say to you Misty—the listener doesn’t know it; but occasionally, we’ll have a guest come in, Bob, who says, “Now, this is not really my thing.” I wish—I just wish our listeners could have seen Misty. She was reaching over, grasping Steve’s arm, saying, “Stop talking so I can start talking.” [Laughter]
Bob: “I’ve got something to say here. Step aside, husband.”
Dennis: “I’ve got more.” [Laughter] Thanks for being on the broadcast, Misty. Steve, we may invite you back again. [Laughter]
Steve: Thank you. [Laughter]
Bob: I’m thinking folks may get a chance to see this dynamic, live, when you guys are a part of the upcoming Blended & Blessed® one-day livestream event that’s going to be happening on Saturday, April 21st—
—that’s just a couple of weeks away.
Hopefully, our listeners are already planning to do this in their local church; or they are inviting friends over to watch the livestream in their living room; or if you live in Charlotte, maybe, you are planning to come out to where the event is going to be hosted, live. Ron Deal, Dr. Rick Rigsby, Michele Cushatt, Bill Butterworth, and Steve and Misty Arterburn are going to be speaking that day. It’s going to be available, worldwide, on the internet.
You can find out more about how you can host one of these events in your local church or where a local church is already hosting one of these in your community so you can attend; or you can have the livestream in your home and invite others in to watch it with you. Find out more at FamilyLifeToday.com. Again, we’re talking about the 2018 Blended & Blessed one-day livestream event, Saturday, April 21st.
Find out more at FamilyLifeToday.com and plan to join us for that day. We think this is going to be a great equipping day for couples who are in a blended marriage / a blended family and want that relationship to be solid and one that honors the Lord.
Now, this weekend, we’ve got couples in eight cities across the country, who are going to be joining us for a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. We hope you’ll pray for these couples. We’ve got getaways happening in Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Florida; Lake Tahoe; Little Rock; Newport, Rhode Island; Omaha, Nebraska; Seattle, Washington—actually out in Bellevue—and in Washington, DC. There will be thousands of couples taking part in a getaway this weekend—including pastors and their spouses who will be attending, and they’ll be attending as our guests.
We’ve covered the registration costs for these pastors. Actually, you’ve covered the registration costs because those of you who are donors to FamilyLife Today—
—you have helped us fill up a scholarship fund so that we can provide scholarships for pastors and spouses. You may want to let your pastor know about that and urge him to take a weekend away with his wife and pour into his marriage.
If you’d like to make sure pastors and spouses can continue to attend a getaway, you can help make that happen. Our scholarship fund is starting to deplete. We’re asking listeners to make a contribution to the FamilyLife Pastors Scholarship Fund. You can contribute, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. If you designate your giving, it will all go to the Pastors Scholarship Fund; or if you’d like to leave your gift undesignated, it will go to help support the cost of producing and syndicating this daily radio program. Thanks for your partnership with this ministry; and on behalf of pastors and their spouses, thank you for making it possible for them to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
And we hope you have a great weekend. In fact, we hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend in your local church; and we hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to be talking about the unique relationship that exists between mothers and sons and how moms need to learn that what their sons need more than love is respect. Emerson Eggerichs will be here to help us understand that. I hope you can tune in as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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