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A Different Angle:

blended family Blended families experience transitions that traditional families do not. Noncustodial family members often fluctuate in the time and energy they choose to dedicate to their children, drastically changing the climate of the relationships.

Uninvited transitions

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By Gayla Grace

As I listened to the pain of my friend recently, I recognized the familiar transition that accompanied his step-parenting journey. After a prolonged absence from their lives, the biological father of my friend’s stepchildren appeared, desiring a relationship with his teen children. The stepdad was pushed aside, into a dispensable position, after playing a significant role in the children’s lives for years. His tears told the story of the hurt he couldn’t change. Blended families experience transitions that traditional families do not. Non-custodial family members often fluctuate in the time and energy they choose to dedicate to their children, drastically changing the climate of the relationships. Upheaval in the other home from divorce, re-marriage, re-locating, or a new baby influences what’s happening in our home. Relationships become embittered without renewed effort toward harmony. How do you adjust to an uninvited transition? In our own family, we sought to deepen our faith through a day-by-day

reliance on the Lord and surrender to His plan. When my exhusband re-entered the picture after years of homelessness due to alcoholism, I reacted in anger to his desire for a place in my girls’ lives. My daughters had a dad who had loved and provided for them during his absence. However, I recognized my girls’ need to know more about their biological father during their teen years. I agreed to a visitation arrangement with a man I thought had abandoned them, acknowledging that was part of God’s plan. Surrendering to an unexpected transition that’s different than what we desire requires uncommon effort. But with God’s help, we can find peace, even in the midst of unsettling circumstances. The Apostle Paul, writing from prison, says, “In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:12-13). It’s only through Christ’s strength, guiding our surrendered steps, that we can endure the pain and uncertainty that accompany unwanted transition. Paul relays a challenging situation again in 2 Corinthians 12 when he pleads with the Lord to remove an unwelcome visitor—a “thorn in my flesh”—to no avail. Again, Paul responds with surrender to God’s plan, while relying on His power for strength: “‘But He [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’” Gayla Grace trudged through her single parenting years with two young daughters. She later remarried and is now a mom/stepmom to five children, ages 12-28 and ministers to stepfamilies at her website, stepparentingwithgrace.com.

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Parenting Teens  

This monthly magazine offers timely information, encouragement, and advice to families facing the unique challenges and blessings of parenti...