Blended Family Series Written From The Heart - Christopher Brock
Background and history of myself and my children
For most of my life, the idea of being a part of a blended family was something that was totally foreign to me. I would have never believed that I would have a failed marriage and broken family. After graduating high school, I was determined to succeed and I believed that part of that success formula was to be married young just as my own parents had done. I met someone and against the advice of all around me, and even though I knew in my heart that it was not God’s will, I got married.
As the years passed I realized the mistake I had made and believed that I would simply need to live out my life suffering the consequences of my decision. I had heard many times about how my family had gone for many generations without a broken marriage so when my marriage ended this way, even though there was a part of me that felt relieved that it was over, I felt a significant amount of shame. It is amazing to know how many consequences we can have when we choose not to listen to the voice of the Lord. In addition to my own consequence and feelings of shame I also had a high degree of concern for my two children and the consequences that this would have upon them. My daughter was six at the time of the separation and my son was three and I believed that going through the process of seeing their biological parents divorce would be traumatic and would be something that would scar them for life. I am the residential parent for the kids and as a result, they spent a majority of time with me. However, the kids and I did not spend very much in that situation because only a few months after the final separation God had opened the door for me to meet my wife, the women who would be the step-mother of my kids. This was the beginning of our blended family and though at one time I would have thought that having a blended family would have meant failure, I now see that when we allow the Lord be at the center of our lives, it can be a true blessing from Him.
Initial reaction when the kids learned they would be getting a step-mom and a new sibling and how I dealt with seeing their emotion
I did not come to know my wife through a very conventional way, in fact, I would say that it was a miracle. One day as I was visiting my parents my father told me that the Lord had shown him someone who he believed I needed to meet, when I felt ready to possibly meet someone. When my separation occurred, God did a work in my heart and healed me of the shame, the hurt and the anger and instead, I was filled with peace and joy. Sure, there was some emotion, especially surrounding the children, but in terms of my emotional and spiritual wellbeing, I felt refreshed and renewed. I took what my father had told me and I spent a couple days praying and during this time I felt that I should move forward and follow my father’s lead. The next day I went back to my father and told him that I felt freedom to move forward. He proceeded to show me a picture of the girl that the Lord had placed in his mind for me. Immediately the Lord spoke to me and told that this woman would be my wife and that she was the one He had created for me. What made this even more incredible was that she lived in Hong Kong, which was literally on the opposite side of the world from where I lived. We began to talk to each other and exchange testimonies. We began to share about the things that God had called us to do and within only a handful of weeks I was already making plans to visit her in Hong Kong. During this time, I also began to show pictures of her and her son to my children. Over the course of the next two months we messaged each other daily and shared pictures. The children began to grow excited and the days passed as they started to realize that they were truly going to have a step-mom and a new step-brother. My younger son was a little too young to truly know what was going on but always wanted to look at the pictures of my wife and when we would do video chats he liked to look at and try to talk. My older daughter was also very curious and would always ask question about my wife and her son and about the place that they lived. I was happy and excited to see that they did not seem to have any fear at all or that they were even worried about the upcoming changes that were going to be taking place. I had a very beautiful picture in my mind of the five of us all sitting together and the kids talking to each other about different topics and playing together while my wife and I watched or relaxed on the couch. It seems as though the kids had so much in common that they would naturally get along and there would not be anything to worry about.
What actually happened when they met their step-mom and new sibling The day finally came when my wife and her son came for their first visit. We arrived back at my parent’s house where my two children were and the initial face to face meeting happened. The younger son immediately ran to my wife and hugged her and was so happy to finally meet her. The older daughter was also happy but there were also some moments which were awkward and she seemed to be somewhat unsure of how to react. Their reaction to their new step-brother was similar. However, there was also more of an emotional reaction from my daughter in which she seemed to want to gain attention or ensure that the focus of those who were there was on her rather than her step-brother. There seemed to be a seed of jealously and also of insecurity. The next day my daughter warmed up significantly to my wife but also seemed to have a deeper emotion towards her step-brother. This same trend continued and increased. The younger son did not seem to have any issues as he was so young at the time. The confrontation between my older daughter and her new step-brother increased over time. It seemed as though she was jealous of his position in the family and of the attention that he received as the new child and grandchild. I also believe that she had grown very use to have much of my own attention and now that I had a wife as well as an additional child she could see that she no longer had as much attention. This situation began to reveal deeper emotional issues that she had and also parts of her character that had no previously been seen and because of this, we could see areas in which we could help her and teach her so that she could grow. Many people do not believe trials to be good things. They assume that they are nothing more than a negative consequence of a bad decision. However, when we are going through trials the things that are deep inside of us have tendency to be revealed. When we face trials, it is an opportunity to find areas of weakness and begin to work on them, by handing them over to the Christ. The reality is the initial meeting and formation of our blended family revealed areas in all five of us that needed to be changed and through God’s grace and help we have each moved forward and grown closer together.
How the children’s family roles changed and how they handled those changes As mentioned prior, my youngest son was not quite old enough to truly understand what was going on and, his position in the family did not change very much. He was still the youngest child in the family and the youngest of the grandchildren. The only noticeable change for him was that now he had a big brother in addition to his big sister. I believe that his age, along with the truth that his role did not change significantly made his transition to the new blended family rather seamless. For my older daughter however, it would be a bigger challenge. Prior to the blended she was the oldest child and was use to having the attention that an older child typically receives. When the blended family began she transition from being the oldest to a middle child, now having an older brother in addition to her younger brother. I believe that this transition was extremely difficult for her and as a result of this process if revealed many things about her character that would not have otherwise come to the surface at her age. The two primary character issues we found were self-centeredness and jealously. She would have emotional outbursts, often times aimed at her step-brother, and this put a considerable strain on their relationship as well as her relationship with the other family members over the first year.
How the children formed a relationship with their step-mom and new sibling The strained relationships that occurred during the first year of our blended family did not last. Today, all the members of our family have a positive and loving relationship with each other. The total adjustment period for the kids seemed to take nearly two years but at this point, I believe that they all have relationships that reflect the types of relationships one would expect between siblings. They sometimes have arguments and they sometimes get on each other’s nerves but, there is also no question that they love each other and they enjoy each other and playing with each other. As for the children’s relationship with their step-mom, my younger son immediately took to her while, it to took some time for my daughter to fully embrace and accept her authority, her correction, and her teaching. Again, it was through consistency and love that their relationship has now come a point of respect, caring and love.
As the biological parent, how did I support the kids through these changes I believe the key to seeing the relationships improve and solidify was consistency. Each of the children had to make adjustments and each of them had things in their hearts and personalities that they needed to deal with. However, no matter what they were going through or what arguments they had my wife and I always went back to the Word of the Lord and the Holy Spirit as the foundation of what we taught them and also of our expectations for them and their relationships. We constantly referred back to the truth of God’s Word and even though there were times when they were very emotional we never compromised the truth or our expectations for them. As mentioned before, when an individual is put in a difficult situation it is an opportunity to see areas that need to change and weaknesses that need to be addressed. Even though it was at times difficult to see the children be placed in these pressures filled situations at their young age, I believe that it also proves to be a great opportunity to see character issues in them at an early age, an age when they could be much more easily adjusted and corrected. Our belief was that if we can identify and address these issues now, even thought it may be hard at the time, it could save them so much heartache later in their lives to have already learned these things.
As a biological parent, what were some challenges that I personally faced during this process and how did I address them I believe that one of the most challenging things to address during this process was to be able to balance the emotions and needs of each family member. There is no doubt whatsoever that as a husband my first priority was the emotional well being of my wife and to protect her emotionally. Her emotion wellbeing and seeing her be respected was the top priority. The next was to care for my children. It is very easy for a parent in a blended family to say that they love and care for both their biological children and step-children equally, but what really matters in that situation is not what you say, but what you do. In the beginning, as a father, when I would see the emotion that the children would go through my initial reaction would be to go to them to provide protection and also comfort. I had to truthfully ask myself if I were doing that for all of the children in the family equally and at times when I was not treating them the same, I had to face the truth and make adjustments in my heart, my mind, and my soul. In a short time, I believe that I made this adjustment in the way that I see each of them and at this point it would never enter my mind to protect one of them at the expense of another. But, this also took conscience effort and intentionality. I always remember that God gave His Son or us because of His love for us but, that does not mean He love His Son less then us. Would I love my adopted son in this same way? Would I see him as equal and co-heirs with my biological children? I made my decision that yes, I would and I would not simply say it but that I would demonstrate that decision through action.