When Two (Families) Become One
Challenges Of Parenting A Blended Family.
We had both lost our first spouses to cancer. She had two boys from her first marriage. I had two boys from mine. At that time the four boys were aged 11 to 19.
A key challenge of building a blended family is the fact that the children come with different family histories and formative experiences. When Bernice and I were considering joining our lives together in marriage, we knew this would be a major concern. And so we did the following.
o We gave the boys veto vote. If any of our sons opposed the marriage we would not proceed. Bernice and I had reached a point in life where we felt complete in Christ and were not desperate to marry. If any of the boys objected, we would not proceed with the marriage but just remain good friends. Thank God the four boys gave us the go ahead and quickly embraced the new parent.
o We agreed that in the early years of the marriage, we both would be primarily responsible for the discipline of our own boys, Bernice for hers, I for mine. We could speak into the lives of all the four boys but when it came to discipline, we would be responsible for our own boys because they had been raised differently and had different expectations for their behaviour. In time, we expected that there would emerge a new family culture where this arrangement would no longer be necessary.
o We wanted to create new memories for the whole new family unit. None of us had been to Spain before. It was an expensive holiday but it was an investment to help gel us altogether. All six of us enjoyed the memorable trip that was so unique as we embarked on our journey together.
After 11 years of marriage, Bernice and I are very grateful for how the family has come together. My boys love their new mum and know they have been very blessed and continue to be blessed by her. In a recent posting on Mother's Day, son Andrew mentioned that the most difficult thing in his life was losing his mum to cancer and the greatest blessing was having Bernice as his mum.
Above all, we are grateful for God's grace in helping our blended family come together. There are no guarantees for how families turn out. Growing a family is tough even in the best of conditions.
I am deeply grateful that Bernice's boys have embraced me as dad. I know I don't deserve it and am very grateful for their grace. I really enjoy my relationship with them. And since my two boys are far away — one in Melbourne, one in Toronto — I appreciate the fact that these two are in Singapore.
Above all, we are grateful for God's grace in helping our blended family come together. There are no guarantees for how families turn out. Growing a family is tough even in the best of conditions. A blended family has many unique challenges. We do what we can and trust the Lord. And God has been faithful.
Tan Soo Inn is a director of Graceworks. He has supported Arsenal Football Club since 1971 and his favourite movie is Star Wars 4.