5 ways blended families can find balance during Christmas

Ed Welch » God Family Marriage Children Complementarian

Blended families are not all the same. Here are five ideas to help you find balance during Christmas.

If you are in a blended family (i.e. any family that’s not cookie-cutter husband, wife, plus 2.5 of their own biological children), you have to think hard about how to find a godly balance during Christmas. Of course, all families have to think hard about this, but your family comes with a few more wrinkles and complexities.

Balance—which means that most family members are still standing, healthy, and perhaps even spiritually growing—does not happen automatically. And that is a good thing. If it happened automatically, you would never pray.

Here are five ideas to help you find balance during Christmas, simply provided to get you started.

Blended families are not all the same. There are more than a half-dozen different profiles (two divorced spouses both with kids, one divorced spouse with kids and one previously single spouse, etc . . . .), and each profile has endless variations. What works for one family might not work for you. So use this as an opportunity to come up with one or two ways to guide your crew through a time when some are sad, some want to be somewhere else, some might use the day to vent their grudges and frustrations, and some are just happy to be there.

1. Pray for your spouse and family

This is an obvious one, which makes you wonder why so few people do it.

Think first about praying with your spouse. Where are you needy and desperate? Has the Spirit of God been putting anything on your heart recently? What sin can you confess? If you are not in the habit of confessing sin to your spouse, this is as good a time as any, and it would be a fine Christmas present.

Pray especially for what the Lord desires to pour out: for example, peace (e.g., Gal. 1:3), unity (John 17:11) and power (Eph. 6:10). Beware of words that are religious but meaningless to you. Even “peace” could be one of those words.

Next consider being a priest to your family (1 Pet. 2:9). One of the great privileges of priests is to pray benedictions over the people. Now, here are your people whom you love and want to bless. Both spouses could pray prayers of blessing for the family (cf., Num. 6:24–27; Rom. 15:13; 2 Thess. 3:16).

2. Tend to your marriage and family

The rest of the family takes their cues from your marriage. You will bless the larger family as you bless one another. What is the family seeing? Do they see spouses growing in unity, who act as one? Do they see you enjoying each other?

When little time has passed since a previous marriage, children can be confused as they compare the present marriage with the past one, and they might not like seeing peace and unity in your marriage. The holidays only exaggerate children’s struggles. Now add your own lingering guilt about past failures and you could easily feel unworthy of a growing marital relationship. Stay alert of these lies, and counter them with confidence that your God, who is forgiving, says words of blessing over you.

Guilt and anger are relationship killers, so deal with any frustrations or resentments in your relationship, too. Own them and talk about them together. Confess them to the Lord and to your spouse, and do not stop the process of peace until both of you are eager to love each other well.

3. Embrace God’s will

You cannot contain your hopes for Christmas. We have so many Norman Rockwell images about that day that even the most jaded realist will secretly harbor dreams of a little peace, love, and joy. So dream big, but as the book of James says, surround it with, “if the Lord wills” (4:15). Then you will be able to accept, even with contentment, how your day unfolds.

4. Express thankfulness

Many families, blended or not, can go years without any personal words. How have you been blessed my members of the family? Since we all, in some way, resemble our Creator, we can always see something good in others. See it, and then say it. If it seems a little schmaltzy to say it on Christmas, say it today.

5. Listen to hearts

The holidays can be complicated for children young and old. Take some time to hear what is on their hearts when you ask “How are you doing?” If you are unsure how to proceed, ask your spouse for advice.

This should get you talking together. Before you finish your conversation, generate a few more ideas and then settle into a couple of them.

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