A Call to Action: Reaction to the Pew Research Report
Ron L. Deal
President, Smart Stepfamilies.com
Friday, January 14, 2011
A new report from the Pew Research Center is reminding family professionals and pastors of the significant numbers of stepfamilies in the US. Today, 42% of American adults (this does not include children under 18) have at least one step relative in their family—either a stepparent, a step or half sibling or a stepchild, according to a nationwide survey. This translates to 95.5 million adults and the percentage is likely to continue to grow unless the church can effectively find ways of reducing the over 60% remarriage divorce rate and stopping the generational cycle of divorce. But the church remains generally ill-equipped to respond.
For example, ask the average pastor or marriage ministry leader how many books on stepfamilies they have in their library or when was the last time they addressed the challenges of the 29.5 million stepparents in the US in a sermon or parenting class and you’ll realize that despite the prevalence of stepfamilies in society, the church has not yet positioned itself to help. There are 16.5 million stepdads and 14 million stepmoms in our country, but when was the last time a family conference offered a course on stepparenting or a marriage conference explored the intricacies of remarriage?
Just the other day a woman contacted Smart Stepfamilies after being referred to our ministry by Focus on the Family. “I didn’t have any idea there was a ministry specifically for blended families,” she said, “but I’m so glad there is.”
What Can Be Done?
Decide today to increase the efforts of your ministry for blended families:
Write a blog, internal report, or your own Call to Action to encourage others to give attention to this much needed ministry.
Ask pastors to create a ministry to pre-marital and married stepfamily couples within your church.
Read a book or attend a workshop on blended families…and recommend one to a friend.
In your general marriage education courses, include remarriage “side-bars” that speak to remarried couples or raise awareness about the unique dynamics of stepfamilies. You don’t have to be an expert to add this component to your training.
Offer practical tips in your community publications or media interviews.
There is much to be done to foster healthy stepfamilies and stem the tide of redivorce. Let’s get serious about it.
Ron L. Deal is President of Smart Stepfamilies.com, a conference speaker and trainer, and author of the Smart Stepfamily Library Series including The Smart Stepfamily (book and DVD curriculum), The Smart Stepmom (with Laura Petherbridge), The Smart Stepdad (releases April, 2011),and The Remarriage Checkup (with Dr. David Olson) which is based on the largest study of remarriage strengths ever conducted. He is a member of the Stepfamily Expert Council for the National Stepfamily Resource Center, and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor with over 25 years experience in family ministry. Find resources for couples and professionals at www.RonDeal.org.
#4: by Philip Nathanael Goode on 10.10.2014 @ 01:16pm CDT
I wish I can go into greater detail about these things, but neither time nor space will allow me. I am an "only child with three brothers and a sister". In other words, I was the lone offspring a first marriage, and my father remarried when I was five and started a new family. The remarriage and relationship with stepmother was at first a little less stressful until she and my father could start giving birth to their own children. As the holdover from the failed first marriage, I felt like I was made out to be an intruder who posed a threat to the tranquility of the new family. If you were to produce a biological child between you and your husband (an "our" child), the reaction from his three children may or may not improve- it's risky to say. My initial experience was some decades ago, and everybody is grown now, but the two families have still not blended harmoniously, albeit a surface image of civility at family gatherings. (I am not using my real name, by the way, so as not to offend anybody.)
#3: by Tracey Wigans on 07.09.2014 @ 11:02pm CDT
Ron, I feel the desire to begin a ministry to step families in our area. Many times now, I have shared and prayed with Sharon Hill in your office. You can't believe my excitement when you came aboard.
Your Smart Stepfamily book was the "How to book" when we started our blended family. That page that lists all the things to watch out for or maybe things that you know other couples had encountered…….well after 10 years with 7 children and 2 x's we have seen it all. There isn't a condition or situation that has not passed our doorstep. I want to share your programs with others. However, my husband is not excited about this. Is this something I can do on my own? We are certainly far from perfect. But, have a great understanding of the sacrifice, love, and God's grace that is required to have a step family.
PS I am a step back step parent who has survived as of today. Thanks Ron!
#2: by Audrey Abraham on 11.24.2012 @ 02:27pm CST
I have been married now 25 yrs and in a blended family. It isn't easy sometimes but what holds us together is our committment to the Lord. We said for better or worse and so be it. Our church has a blended family course and biblical counseling center to wich I serve. For anyone who is out there reading this note I would want you to remember Rom.8:28-30 and trust God to see you through.
Your information on your web sight is excellent, because I am always looking for ways to improve in my counseling not just to those I counsel but also for myself I thank you
#1: by Sherri Smith on 01.20.2012 @ 01:01pm CST
I am married for the second time and I went into a marriage with 3 stepchildren which are all teenagers. This has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Me and my husband are both Christians and try to live a life that is pleasing to God. In saying that, it is still very hard to be a stepmother. I came into it also with no children of my own and no possibility of having my own. In knowing this coming into the married I guess I thought I was strong enough in my faith and we loved each other that I could handle anything. Well I was sadly mistaken. I has been a down hill road the whole time. So, I feel like it is very important to have the resources to help with all issues. Especially with mine, I'm sure their are not a lot of people who go into a marriage with older children and have none of their own. My husband tells me if I had my own I would understand why he does what he does and I tell him their not the only kids from a divorced family and he says I know, but they're my kids. So, what do you do and how do you handle that. I guess I don't know and I can't find very much information on this. It is very hard and I have thought many of times to just walk away, but I know God put us together for a reason and I just hope I can figure it out and get thru this pain I am going thru. It is a very stressful and emotional roller coaster. I just feel like I can't go on sometimes, but I have hung in there. I will be married this August 3 years and this has been one of the most trying times in my life even going thru breast cancer at 33 years old. Thank You for letting me post a comment. Hope this will help save other marriages.
Add your Comment*
*Comments are moderated so your comment may not appear immediately.
"My name is Tracy. My husband and I attended your stepfamily conference recently. I wanted to send you a note to say THANK YOU. It was a life changing experience. Through your conference God has opened our eyes and our hearts to so many of the misunderstandings and feelings of frustration we have been having during the course of our three years of marriage. With five children (ages 7 to 17) there were lots of misunderstandings! We will continue to seek God’s word in growing our family and our marriage. Praise God for you and this ministry."