What About The Children?

As you start out your day today, please remember to pray for all the people in the northeast affected by the hurricane.  I pray it doesn’t become the storm that’s predicted.  I’m grateful to have my mom here, who returned with me from Pennsylvania, and my brother from Delaware, but I still have lots of family in Pennsylvania and friends all over the northeast.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

One of the major difficulties we encounter with couples we counsel is that of step-children.  Second marriages bring baggage that not only includes unresolved relationship issues, but also the burden of resistant children and families. 

Second marriages fail mostly because of the inability to blend two families together.  Children can form an insurmountable wall between couples that most people don’t know how to tear down.

The bond between a mother and her children is so powerful, that sometimes, even a biological father can feel left out.  A non-biological father often has little chance of feeling like a viable part of the equation.   In the beginning, during the “honeymoon stage”, everything may look “ copacetic”.   The minute the step-daddy tries to discipline or says something negative about the child, the mother hen may quickly get her feathers ruffled and defend the child to the end.  Suddenly, her new husband becomes the enemy.  The child quickly learns how to alienate the step-parent from the mother.  (Of course the tables may be turned if the father has custody of his children, but men don’t seem to get as defensive as women in this situation.  Their bond is different.)

It’s difficult to understand why children are not very accepting of step parents, even if they are wonderful people who may be far better parents than the biological ones.  I believe that we are born with a strong attachment to our biological parents that God created.  When that attachment is broken and a substitute parent is added, it is almost impossible for a child to accept that parent as he would his biological one. Given time, many trials, and maybe some counseling, harmony can be found for a blended family.  God is the great healer and with Him, nothing is impossible.  He certainly needs to be an active part of the family.

You may tell your children, “Sweetie, George is not trying to be your Daddy.  He will never take his place.”  While you may feel that way, to the child, the step-father is certainly trying to take his father’s place.  He’s living in the house, sharing your bedroom, and trying to live the life the real father once did.  Deep down in their soul, every child wants their parents together regardless of the difficulties in that relationship.  They will never totally embrace a step-parent as you would like them to. (Yes, there are always exceptions – to all of this.)

My mother recently gave me a quote that has somehow lost value in our society.  “Parenting is sacred work.  We are the caretakers of our children’s souls.”

The sad part of life in these days, to me, is all the children who have never lived with their real parents, maybe have never known their biological father.  They move from situation to situation as their mothers choose, and are never able to form attachments essential to the healthy development of their emotions.

The best thing a parent can do for their children is to raise them in a secure home with both their biological parents.  Fix your marriage; don’t toss it out the window – for the sake of your children. 

If you have divorced and may be in another marriage, learn how to deal with the issues.  Seek help.  Make this marriage work.  You owe it to your children.

They say it’s harder for a child to lose a parent to divorce than to lose them to death.


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