The Bible, Divorce, & Re-marriage

Right or wrong, between 45 and 75 percent of all marriages end in divorce, and most of those divorcees will re-marry!

There’s no use dancing around the obvious point that most stepfamilies are formed from a controversial act: divorce. And there’s no way to avoid the fact that many religions—and therefore many religious people—have a problem dealing with stepfamilies.

Divorce and remarriage are tough fits in our world: the Bible says God hates them (Malachi 2:14-16), but our society encourages them and makes them convenient, so it’s just a fact of life we must deal with. It’s a fact, too, that there are many ministers and well–meaning folk out there who try to ignore — or worse yet, condemn — those of us who are in a stepfamily.

But the fact of the matter is that, while Jesus discouraged the practice (except in particular cases; Matthew 5:36), He never refused His care and healing power to any who sincerely asked for it. So, as Christ-followers (you know…“WWJD”), neither can we. (And by we, I mean both we in STEP- Carefully! Inc., and we as in you, if you’re a Christian!)

Jesus even demonstrated how to deal with this sticky subject. In John 4:6–30, Jesus reminds the Samaritan woman at the well that she’s been remarried several times…then He drops the subject and goes on to minister to her needs. And as a result, you’ll recall, an entire town came out to meet Him.

That’s the model we follow. While acknowledging that divorce should never happen, we accept the fact that it does, help as much as we can, and move on. We don’t have a choice, really, since everyone involved with our programs have been divorced, remarried, or have family members who have lived through it. That’s why it’s important to look for a church, a minister, a counselor, or a therapist who has had personal experience with the challenges of divorce, or who has an open heart and mind about it.

If you ever need to talk, please feel free to contact us. Been there; done that; got the scars to understand!

STEPcoach Bob Collins

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Published in: on December 16, 2016 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Christmas (Talk) In August!

In our local support group this week we happened on a ripe topic. (And when I say we “happened” on it, I mean that literally. Sometimes I have no idea where God will lead us until we get there!) We fell into talking about Christmases past and to come. In particular, what we had all spent on our kids and families last Christmas. Many were not proud!
One couple said they fought so badly she asked to be let out of the car on the way to a family gathering. She just sat at a gas station until he and the kids were through and came back to get her! They both seemed unhappy about that event.
Another guy told of how his family tradition was to just buy for the kids and maybe a gift or two for another family member; however, his new wife’s family tradition involved expensive gifts for each member of a large family. They also held Christmas gatherings and dinners at several houses … where more gifts were exchanged! He still sounded stunned by it all.
How many gifts did they give out? “Way too many,” seemed to be the consensus. One couple looked at each other, counting to themselves and came up with “50 or 55” gifts per child! Good grief!
Why do we do this? Most said they just got carried away with sales and last minute ideas. But one dad admitted that part of his over-gifting was to make up to his kids for their not having such a great life since their parents’ divorce and Dad’s remarriage. Most of the others either nodded agreement or just stared at their hands.
So I asked them, What do you think is a proper number of gifts for a child to receive for Christmas. Not your child, but an average child from an average family in our socio-economic neighborhood. … No one volunteered for what sounded like a trap, so I went around the table and ask each person. The general average seemed to be four or five gifts per child was fair.
Why numbers of gifts per child instead of amount spent, one mom asked. Because most pre-teen kids seem to be more interested in how many packages they have to open and the gifts they walk away with, than how many dollars each item cost.
One dad said they’d settled the issue last year by reading the Christmas story, then pointing out that since Baby Jesus (whose birthday this is supposed to be about) only received three gifts, wasn’t it fair to limit the kids to only three gifts? Nice idea!
We wound up all agreeing that it might be a good idea to set goals or budgets for this year’s holidays. Our homework for the next week will be for each couple to come back with their set plan. It can include only the kids, or be for the kids and all the adults. It can be about numbers of gifts, or about budgeted dollars, or both.
I’d like to propose this same project for your family. Sit down together, you and your sweetie, and decide now – while it’s still hot and very non-Christmas-y – what your goal (or your limit if you’re more comfortable with that measure) will be for your family this year. Write it down and keep it where you can find it again around the middle of November. And then see what you think of it come January.
Please write me and let me share with our other families your ideas. I know they will appreciate hearing from you – we all need to share ideas, don’t we? 
Oh, and … Merry Christmas!
STEP coach Bob
Published in: on August 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jumping Off the Cliff

What lead you to get married again? After being burned so badly by your previous divorce(s), why did you – many of us very quickly – run back into another marriage?

Most of you will answer that you fell in love and hoped this time would be different and better. That this adventure into matrimony would not only work, but repair the harm from the last one. But, how could you bring yourself to walk back over that cliff?

I know that in my own case, I didn’t walk, I sprinted toward my second marriage. I remember thinking a good three months before our wedding was scheduled to take place, “Why should we wait? Why not just get married TODAY?! We’re in love, we are ready to start over, let’s go!” I was held back only by the plans that were in place and the deposits that had been paid for the scheduled date. I was so much in love, I couldn’t wait to start being happily married. Again.

As some of you probably know from our working together, the first two years of my new marriage was less blissful than expected. In fact, it was horrible. We jumped into it far too quickly and far too soon after our previous divorces. In retrospect, we should have spent a good two years (bare minimum!) learning about each other and figuring out how to blend our lives together – especially regarding her teenaged daughter’s impact on our marriage!

If I’d paid closer attention in my university classes on psychology, I’d have seen that others had already studied this phenomenon of blindly walking off cliff walls. Back in 1960, two researchers named Gibson and Walk constructed a table to test depth perception in animals and babies. The table, as illustrated below:

was made of clear plexiglass under which was one half a table surface, and one half a drop off to the floor. In the experiment, very young babies – first animal then human – were placed on the “safe” side and encouraged to cross the glass table to the “unsafe” side. Animals almost never crossed, and many babies would not cross. But some babies were so focused on their parent’s facial expressions that they happily crawled all the way to her. They were more interested in Mom’s or Dad’s smiling, encouraging faces that communicated it was OK to cross the divide than what their eyes told them.

Now “the Visual Cliff”, as this experiment has become known, has real application in helping us understand why so many people … people who are generally pretty clear headed … will stumble out of the smoking wreckage of a horrible divorce, right into another relationship as quickly as they can find one.

We, like those trusting babies on the glass table, are so focused on the smiling, happy, beguiling faces of our new love interests (or other body parts besides their faces!), that, although we can see the drop off, we don’t heed our body’s natural warning responses.

“Dude! Stop! Can’t you see you’re leading us off a huge cliff, just like what we just fell from a few months ago? STOP!” To which we reply dreamily, “I can’t stop. Sorry. Her (“eyes”) are just so big and pretty and she keeps smiling at me and making me feel all warm inside,” or “Don’t be silly, Self! Can’t you see how strong he is and how much he loves me? I just know it will be safe” … to blindly crawl out into blank space where common sense tells me I’ll crash to the bloodied rocks below, just like last time!

And off to the races we go!

Relationships, then, are clearly more important to us than safety, sight, experience, or common sense. Statistics tell us that our hearts will lead us where our eyes should force us to not go. Second marriages experience two divorces out of every three attempts, while more than three out of four third marriages fail. Got that? Two out of every three second marriages end in divorce!

The cliff is real! But we just keep on crawling. Why?

Because we NEED love. We need to have someone we can share the joy of life, as well as the fears of facing the world alone. And we are happy to ignore our brains to listen to the hopes of our hearts.

The bad news is that the odds are against you if you’re in a stepfamily.
The good news is there is hope.

Yes, we need love; we need a partner to walk beside us. And that love is possible. Your marriage doesn’t have to turn into a warning sign to others. It is possible to turn back from what may be looking like a disaster in the making. You just need help.

In sixteen years of working with stepfamilies, we’ve had OVER 90 PERCENT success helping you guys beat the odds. I’m still amazed at that number. We’re not magic. What I teach isn’t some arcane secret. I just help couples see the land mines clearly, then understand the best ways through the toughest times.

“The heart wants what it wants,” as Dickinson said. Almost 100 percent of people who divorce get married again. We love that cliff.

If you’re over the cliff, fearing that you’ve made a big mistake, and especially if you have children involved – don’t give up. Don’t freeze up and just wait for the drop to another crash. Get help. From me, from someone else, within yourself, wherever, just don’t give up. Especially if there are children involved. Don’t drag them into that abyss again.

Hold on and get across this time.

STEPcoach Bob Collins

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

A STEPparent’s Job

Dear [stepparent],

Regarding your question about your particular responsibility about your husband’s kids, here’s how that lays out:

1) the stepparent is not legally or morally or physically responsible for their stepchildren. If a child gets into some sort of liable trouble (causing expensive damages to someone else’s property, for example), the biological parent is legally responsible for reparations for that damage. Not the stepparent. Morally, God places responsibility for raising a child and teaching that child how to be an adult on the biological parent. Not the stepparent.

2) The stepparent has the opportunity to bless the stepchildren; to teach them by example how to be a kind, loving, forgiving person. The stepparent also has the opportunity to demonstrate to the stepchild how to react, in a Christian manner, if they are insulted, ignored, or even harmed by the stepchild. The stepparent does have the responsibility to show the stepchild Christ in a very real way through daily living and lovingkindness (just as any child or person). Yes, this can be hard. I remember when my own stepdaughter slapped me in the face in public, (once physically and many times with her mouth and hateful attitude) in front of others, to embarrass me and to challenge me. As a Christian who just happened to be married to her mother, my responsibility was to demonstrate to her how a Christian would deal with a personal attack like that. (Remember what Jesus said about if someone slaps you on one cheek? Forgive and get over it and love them, He said)

So the stepparent, you and I, has no legal responsibility over the stepchild – but the Christian has a responsibility to witness Christ’s love and forgiveness to everyone, ESPECIALLY those in our household.

One more point; Just because a stepparent does not have the responsibility for their stepchild, they are family. And, as family, they have a relationship with those stepchildren. You and I, as family members to our stepchildren must be careful not to shun those children, but to reach out to them as family members. When Dad and the kids are doing something, a family member should show an interest and care about that they’re doing. If the stepkids reject your attempt, that shouldn’t make any difference in your actions. We are still family members with those children of our spouse, and as such we need to show the same care and consideration as we do toward our spouse’s parents, brothers and sisters, or their grandparents. Reach out with patience and love and respect because of who they are related to … your sweetheart.

It is a balancing act: love without having to, care without being forced to. But so is every other relationship we have – with our spouse, our parents, our siblings, etc, etc. It may not be the easiest, but it’s the right thing to do.

STEPcoach Bob Collins

Helping stepfamilies succeed since 1996 – STEP-Carefully! is just for you!

Published in: on March 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Blessings of Being A Stepparent

1) I married my high school sweetheart after we’d both been divorced upon by our spouses, so new life, new hope;
2) she brought a daughter, sort of a curse AND a blessing;
3) she then had a son, my step-grandson – a definite blessing!

Here is a journal entry I wrote about a day with my grandson, back in 2002:
————
February 2002

What a perfect day with Michael!
I never could have believed (and now I speak with faulty memory, because his presence has altered my mind so much) that I could be so completely taken by a baby boy! I think of him far more often than anyone else, and wonder about him whenever he is not with me. When he runs to me and wraps his arms around my leg, either to hug me or in an attack, I just feel all poured out for him. What I mean is that he seems to take over my full emotions. To make him giggle or even to scream with delight makes me feel like the most successful man in the world.

Today was a Monday, which means that I have promised to set all else aside to care for Michael. It’s definitely a foolish thing by the world’s standards, but I’m afraid I’m completely foolish when it comes to this little boy. After dropping Jo (Nana) off at her job, I came back home to find Jennifer almost ready to leave for her job and Michael still asleep. I puttered with home chores – dishes, trash, etc. – until I heard him call o ut. I called to him, “Hey Buddy, Grandpapa’s here.” In a few minutes, he toddled into the living room, tilted his head ‘way to the side and grinned at me.

We spent the morning playing and watching some cartoons, then while watching Bear in the Big Blue House, he started getting drowsy, so he got up and stumbled over to the couch, climbed up, and scooted over onto my lap! He laid his head back on my chest and stuck his bottle in his mouth. He could only sit still for so long, lest he fall asleep. So he hopped down and sprawled on the carpet, propping his chin on his fist, while his feet were propped up in the air. I couldn’t resist … I laid down beside him, adopting the same pose. He snuck a look at me out of the corner of his eye, then got up on his knees and flopped on my back to watch TV from there. I rolled over so that he fell off giggling, and got on my hands and knees looking at him. He charged toward me, butting me in the head with his head. I dropped my head and burrowed into his belly. He squealed and grabbed my shirt, wrestling with me. I fell back on my back and he pounced on me.

We wrestled like that until we were tired (really I tired much more quickly than he did!) and we sat back on the couch. His mommy came home then for lunch. He had a sandwich with her, and when she left I laid him down in his play pen with a bottle of milk for a nap. He never made a sound, just looked up at me with sleepy, bright eyes. After his nap time, I had gotten us ready for a trip to town, so I went in to wake him. I leaned over his bed and whispered, “I love you. I love you, Michael.” He slowly opened his eyes and then jumped up when he saw me, and held out his arms to be picked up. I got him dressed and we left the house.

We then went to Wal-mart. I took Michael in to get Jo’s medicine refilled. After getting the pills, we played some. I’d push the cart out in front of me, crouch down and growl, “I’m gonna get your belly!” while running up on the cart and tickling his tummy as he squealed. We did figure eights, and drove through the too-tightly-packed clothing aisles, the shirt sleeves ticking his face. If anyone was paying attention, surely they thought I was nuts! Or maybe they envied me getting to play with such a wonderful baby. We bought some supplies for my new office and check ed out.

Then we went to get Jo. I took Michael upstairs to let her show him off. As we started in the front door of the clinic, I said, “Let’s find Nana, OK? Nana?” He perked up and said, “Nana? Nana! Nana!” looking around for her. In the elevator, I sat him down and he walked out, holding my hand. Jo was delighted to see him (of course!)

After we dropped Jo off at college, Michael and I went by the office to get a phone number about tomorrow’s appointment. Michael again captured everyone’s attention. He sat on my lap at my desk … and knocked pictures off the desktop. Leaving there, we went back to my dad’s apartment.

Michael picked up a package of gum Dad had laying on a table. Dad said, “Oh no, Michael, let me have that before you lose it.” Michael grinned and took off with the gum! I said, “Oh you little fart! Gimme that gum!” He fell on the gum and hung on for dear life. I pried his little fingers off the now crushed gum sticks and started chewing on his belly. He just flopped back and grinned at me as if to say, “Go ahead, Papa, get me. That’s why I started the trouble anyway.” So I picked him up and (carefully) tossed him on Dad’s bed, then dove on top of him, pinning him under my chest. He screamed and started kicking. I got up and he charged right at me, hitting me in the chest with his head. I tickled his back and knees as he tried to squirm away.

We left Dad to get Jo from Westark and head home. I laid down for a much needed nap. When I woke up, it was to a happy little boy laying across my chest, hugging me awake. Before he went to sleep that night, in bed with his mama, he leaned up from the covers and patted me on my arm, his way of saying, “Thanks for a good day, Papa. I love you.”

What a great day!

Published in: on March 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why so many divorces?

A question on Quora recently got my juices flowing. The question was, “Why can’t most people be satisfied in married life? Why are divorce rates so high around the world?”


I’ve developed my answer to this particular question over 16 years of intensive work with divorcing couples, dissatisfied married couples, and re-married couples (“blended families”), as well as my own divorce and second marriage. I honestly believe that some couples should not have married in the first place. I agree, generally, with Jan Mixon that marriages are entered into too lightly, with too little clear, logical thought. Marriages like these are NOT true marriages, they are couples playing house on a temporary basis. 

Marriage is a lifelong commitment. A sincere, legal, moral, and often religious vow is taken to never leave or forsake each other through any difficulties that may arise. If this vow is not a flippant lie, divorce is impossible. I’ve never heard vows (though I’m sure someone has made up some) that allow for escape possibilities – “till boredom do us part,” “as long as you remain interesting to me,” etc.

Divorce is always damaging. Period. Even when the couple “is cool with it.” To have failed at a solemn vow degrades the personality and the soul. It makes the vow breaker think less of him/herself and makes all future commitments much weaker. When there are children involved, divorce is akin to abuse. Ask any child whose parents have divorced and they will tell you they wish their parents had resolved their differences and remained married. The statistics of what damages are done to children of divorce are many, and all tell of children whose quality of life and happiness has been severely reduced.

But, the question is why people can’t be satisfied in marriage (someone said correctly that divorce rates have dropped in the US dramatically in the last decade). My understanding, again based on 16 years of working intimately with divorced, divorcing, and remarried families, is that their understanding of commitment is flawed, often by parents who taught them and society which reinforced that they could have whatever they want, they have an innate right to be absolutely happy all the time, and because they have selfish desires for new adventures despite what effect satisfying those desires will have on others.

Unpopular ideas, I know … but I’ve had far too many divorced/remarried people tell me those ideas are correct to doubt them. We want everything perfect and when our marriage relationships or home situations are not, we whine and run away. Society supports this dangerous behavior because the majority of society wants to keep that same option open for themselves. 

Should some marriages be ended? Yes, but very few. I have successfully helped many, many couples rehabilitate their relationships who had experienced what society calls “deal breakers” – adultery, drug addiction, abuse, and betrayal of many sorts. These are only deal breakers if one or both sides are determined to give up and run away and abandon their vows.

Christians, in particular, have very few true reasons for divorce, and those are still excuses to lie. Yes, yes, yes, a woman (or a man) who is consistently abused by their spouse should get away from him and protect herself. But there are often alternatives to divorce. When children are involved, they must certainly be protected, but divorce of their two parents is not always the best, and certainly not the only solution. I’ve witnessed far too many families brought back to peace who were convinced divorce is the only solution.

Published in: on January 12, 2012 at 9:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Your Opinion, Please

I’d honestly like to hear your opinion on this question which recently came up in a discussion group for stepparents of difficult children … 

Which is worse (or, conversely, which is better) – 

1) no physical discipline, but plenty of verbal; or 

2) calm, physical discipline?

This question came up after a rather passionate discussion of how parents and stepparents handled hard-to-control children. Some were vehemently opposed to any sort of “physical violence” such as spanking, slapping, or bodily lifting and placing a child in a chair. Their reasoning was that violence begets violence. If you teach a child that hitting is acceptable, that child will fall back on hitting when he or she is excited.


The negative side of this group was that they admitted to far-too-often succumbing to the temptation to scream at their children to get their attention. Instead of grabbing Junior up from the TV and making him get moving, the tended to steadily increase from telling, to yelling, to screaming at him to move. They confessed they “lost it” at least once a week.


The “spare the rod, spoil the child” group first categorically insisted they had specific guidelines regarding corporeal punishment: when, how, and why to spank or slap, and usually had a follow-up strategy. Their method is generally to avoid emotional outbursts and to administer fair amounts of physical discipline, from bottom swats, to hand slaps, to lifting and removing the child.


Both sides were solid in their belief that theirs was the best way, and both had many examples of how well their own program worked for their children. 


But this was a fairly small group – only 6 couples. So I decided to expand this question. I’d like to know how most families deal with discipline/guidance for their unruly children. Please answer using the anonymous option on the comment page so there is no question of anyone getting in trouble. 


Other stepparents and biological parents are facing the same issues you are. I know they’d like to hear your opinions and your reasoning for your side.


Thanks,


STEPcoach, Bob Collins

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 9:59 am  Comments (3)  

A Buying Guide for Your (STEP) Daughter

Does the following conversation sound familiar?

“What should we get Debbie for Christmas this year?” 

“I don’t think we should get her a phone yet. Other parents have bought their girls phones at her age, but it just seems too early.” 

“Yeah, I agree …” 

(Usually followed by dead silence.)

If you have a teenage daughter or stepdaughter in your home, you’ve probably had a similar discussion. Or you will before too long. As your daughter is growing up, you don’t want to give her too much too soon. 
Maybe this is a good time to start thinking: what does our daughter need? It’s easy to buy what our daughters want … they usually tell us! But what do they need?
Working with stepfamilies who have teens has taught me a principle: Giving your teen too much may equal giving her too little. Some of the most disturbed girls I have known have been the most spoiled. We spoil our daughters when we give them things they just want instead of things they really need. 
Girls who don’t get what they need from their fathers demonstrate a hunger in their heart. This hunger is often revealed in at least four ways: boredom, self-involvement, becoming boy crazy, or becoming demanding.
What can a father do to feed the hunger in a daughter’s heart? What can we do to keep her from becoming a demanding, self-involved, boy-crazy girl?  Answer: feed the genuine hunger of her heart. Give her what she really needs.
I believe there are three things a daughter needs from her dad; 
1. Connection
A daughter needs to feel special. she needs to know we consider her valuable. She needs to know we like her—that we want to spend time with just her. One-on-one time is an effective way to show your daughter she is very special to you.
Another way to connect with our daughters is with meaningful touch. They need it the most when it’s the most difficult to give. When our little girls become teens, we’re tempted to back off with our physical affection. “I wouldn’t want to do anything inappropriate,” we dads or stepdads reason. And that’s good, but our daughters still need  dad’s affection. Just because she’s beginning to look like a woman doesn’t mean she doesn’t still need your meaningful touch. Sure, it will be different from when she was younger. Instead of wrestling on the living room floor, now it’s a quick hug.
Time and place are important, too. I have noticed that my teenage stepdaughter is open to more affection when our family is all together in the privacy of our home. When watching TV for example, we often snuggle close with popcorn, laughs, and affection to share.
Some dads have found it helpful to have a daddy-daughter date every so often. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, the consistency of a focused time together strengthens the relationship and shows you care enough to take time out just for her.
2. Communication
Have you noticed your daughter is different in some ways from her mother? Every woman is unique. Become a student of your stepdaughter. Ask yourself: What is her favorite kind of music? What makes her happy? What makes her angry? What’s she hoping for? Who are her friends? Part of becoming a student of your daughter is determining her language of love. Does she seem to appreciate it more when you do things for her … or with her … or when you present her with a gift?
Regardless of the dialect, try to figure out what speaks love to your daughter. Then practice communicating love the way she “gets it.” Develop a strategy to communicate love….
One strategy is letters. She probably doesn’t want to listen to a lecture, so why not try writing her a letter. List the topics you want to share with her and begin. You may start with one letter a week. You could write about how proud you are of her dedication to band practice, or your concern over her sad mood lately, or the sweet way she sings along with the radio while doing her homework. Find something positive to lift her up and let her know you are paying attention. Even though communication and writing letters (not emails!) may be difficult for you, it’s worth doing.
But if you think verbal communication is sort of overrated, try non-verbal communication. I try to come up with creative ways to communicate with my stepdaughter. I might place small notes on her mirror, in her textbook, or hide them under her pillow during the day. You might buy yours her favorite ice cream flavor, put it in the freezer, and leave her a few written clues to find it.
Or try talking with built-in distractions. Teens often don’t communicate the way adults do. the aren’t as confident as we are. If they have a built-in distraction, they may feel more secure. For example, you might have noticed that some of the best conversations occur in the car. That’s because at any given moment, if the discussion gets uncomfortable, your daughter can say, “Hey, look at that!” and easily change the subject. It’s safe.
One dad likes to go to restaurants that have crayons and coloring sheets and grab one for everybody. He’s found that his stepdaughter really opens up when she is coloring, sipping on a shake, and chatting with someone who listens … even if it’s just him. Dads, make sure you take the time to communicate how you’re feeling. Let her see that you have emotions. For many females, the only emotion they see in a male is anger.
Prepare your daughter for a healthy marriage and a healthy relationship with you by letting her know how you feel. If you are feeling stress from work, admit it. If you are worried about her, tell her. Open your heart to the little girl still inside your teen.
3. Commitment 
Some dads have the zeal and the information, but if they’re lacking the commitment, it won’t happen. 
How does a father demonstrate commitment to his daughter? By loving her when she is the most unlovable. Unconditional love reflects commitment … “I will always love you; no matter what.” Those teen years provide ample opportunities to test your unconditional love. Maybe that’s why God designed it that way. When our daughters need it the most, they make love the hardest to give. If you’re like me, sometimes I just don’t feel the unconditional love I need to show. I have to first go to my heavenly Father. That is part of His design.
Show your commitment by affirming your daughter. or stepdaughter. Affirm her distinctiveness. Accept and affirm that she is different from you. Accept and value her perspective. A practical way to affirm your daughter might be to give her a gift that says, “You are special.” You could give a book or Bible with your note of affirmation written inside; something like: “May God’s Word guide you as it has me. It is my prayer that you will continue to grow as a woman of God. Your mother and I are proud of you.
We need a generation of women who are loved, confident, understood, and valued. As fathers and stepfathers, we can be shapers of the next generation of women. The challenge is to give our daughters what they really need.
STEPcoach, Bob Collins
Published in: on December 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Summer Short-Shorts

Saw much more than I wanted to again this morning of a young lady as I was heading into my favorite family restaurant. I wondered if they were switching to Hooters or the Playboy club, but no, it was just a girl going out for breakfast during the Summer. Her tiny shorts were more like a bathing suit bottom than short pants!


And I thought again, “Does her dad have any idea she’s flashing his daughter around like that?” He may, or he may not care. The “standards” today are almost non-existent.


And before you start calling me a prude, think how our new standards are affecting life in the US. Rape, physical assault, and attitudes about what’s normal have been changed immensely in just the last 20 years. Just one generation ago, prostitutes weren’t allowed to wear in public what our precious children now wear to the mall, restaurants, or even church!


When parents stop caring how provocatively their children dress or what their children consider “decent,” their children will go as far as they can … then allow their children to go even further. That’s your grandkids I’m talking about now!


“B-b-but,” you stammer, “what can I do about it? She’s practically a grown woman! I don’t have any right to criticize her, do I?”

In Deuteronomy 4:9, we’re instructed, “Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.”

In other words, you are to tell your kids what you’ve learned about the results of being too loose and unconcerned about your body, morals, or reputation. You, yourself will suffer from how your children display themselves in public, because anyone who sees your daughter running around nearly naked is going to place most of the blame on you for the way you brought her up and what you didn’t teach her. You will be judged by how you have raised your kids … you know that. You feel it every time your kids throw a fit in public and everyone’s eyes swing from the kids to you.


Then, there’s the repercussions on the kids, themselves (and your grandchildren, too). Jeremiah 5:7-10 says: 

“How can I pardon you? For even your children have turned from me. They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all! I fed my people until they were full. But they thanked me by committing adultery and lining up at the brothels.  

8 They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.

9 Should I not punish them for this?” says the LORD. “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?

10 “Go down the rows of the vineyards and destroy the grapevines, leaving a scattered few alive. Strip the branches from the vines, for these people do not belong to the LORD

Wow! What a clear picture of our kids today! They’ve been given everything, but they’ve turned their backs on everything we know and should have taught them to respect! “Well-fed, lusty stallions” indeed! Doesn’t that sound like the boys strutting around demanding respect they’ve not earned?


And then God almost cries out His frustration over how our kids act (and don’t you feel it, too?) “Shouldn’t I punish them for acting out so badly?”


Don’t you owe it to your kids to warn them what they’re doing to you and themselves and to their children? Whose responsibility is it to teach them right from wrong, if not yours? And who will have to deal with the results of their falling away from the standards that helped raise them? 


One last point: The time to teach your adult children right from wrong is Now. Proverbs 22:6 says

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Start with your preschool kids, teaching them modesty. Continue into elementary and middle school, guiding them to wear decent clothes, not the latest fads that try to turn little girls into adults too soon. And keep after them as teens to act in a way they will be proud to look back on as they grow up. 


Whether they’re your biological or your stepkids, you are the ones responsible to demonstrate a good example. As a stepdad, I wasn’t directly held responsible for how my stepdaughter looked and acted, but I had the opportunity to guide her toward how she should act and what she should expect from boys she dated.


If it’s tough – it’s just part of parenting and stepparenting. But you’ll be proud of them later on when they continue to live the way you’ve taught them.


God bless y’all!


STEPcoach, Bob Collins

Published in: on July 15, 2011 at 10:50 am  Comments (1)  

How to Not Get Bit

My ol’ Pappy used to say (as Rockford would put it) if any of the neighbors ever get a puppy that has any chance of turning into a big, mean dog, As quick as you can, get to their house with some hamburger and a doggy toy.

That way, when that puppy grows up and gets out (and he will get out sometime!), he’ll always remember you as his buddy and be less inclined to rip you limb from limb.

Well, the same holds true – for those of you with the common sense not to get bit by a mean dog – for stepparents and stepkids.

If you marry someone who has a child you don’t get along with too well – which is to be expected since you’re the stranger who’s intent on stealing their parent – you might do well to keep on that child’s good side. Because one of these days that cranky-but-small child will turn into a large, sullen teenager, then a larger, sullener adult.

I’m not talking about bribery … not out right, anyway. But, just as it makes sense to get the puppy on your side with some hamburger and a play toy so he won’t bite you later – it also makes sense to be the person who that large, sullen teen has a good relationship with.

And, besides just protecting your own rear from getting chewed off by a full grown attack dog, that teenaged boy or girl may need an adult they can trust when the mean-uglies come calling at 13 or 16 years of age. Many a grown-up attributes their salvation to an adult friend when they were in the crabby years. You could be that savior who keeps them from melting down.

Your spouse – the puppy’s stressed biological parent – will undoubtably appreciate your efforts too, which can only mean good stuff for you. Some bio-parents have been known to get all moony eyed and cuddly at the sight of their new spouse and their child happily involved in any activity that keeps the child quiet and off their back.

So instead of seeing that stepchild as a challenge and a potential improvement project, try looking at him or her as a soon-to-be play buddies whom you can take to ball games, movies, and out for pizza. Mom or Dad will love you even more, the puppy in question will feel less need to chase you away, and you an feel good about yourself for avoiding a daily battle with a big ol’ hairy attack dog!

Bless each other (or else!),
STEPdad Bob Collins

Published in: on July 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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