Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Worn Out!

Are you feeling stretched too thin, worn out, run over, run down, and run out? Join the club! But did you know that even God is concerned about your schedule? Yep. Seems that God is pretty darned serious about you getting some rest. He even made it one of the Big Ten. ... remember "Thou shalt keep the Sabbath day and keep it holy"?

This has never been more important for families than it is today when everything seems to be faster-paced and more urgent.

God understood (probably from looking at the original Blueprints for us) how much we need some down time, not just once or twice a year on vacation, but Every Week! The Sabbath is intended as a Day Off from work and worry; a time for Family to get together and share their lives and their time; a time also to thank God for His gifts and blessings (Hey! It's not just for Thanksgiving anymore!)

So this weekend set aside the cell phone and those files you brought from work. Play a board game, go to a park together, start a family project. That's an order ... or a Commandment! Oh, and don't forget to go to worship service, too!

God bless y'all!
STEPcoach Bob Collins

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Do Children Benefit from Divorce?

Divorce leaves scars
The question was asked on a website forum recently, Does Divorce Benefit Children. 
Below is my answer, based on my empirical experience:

No! Children do not benefit from their parents' divorce. In fact they are as damaged as they would be from the sudden, violent death of one of their parents. They learn that life is not to be depended upon for safety, security, or happiness. They learn the cold of trying to fall asleep while crying about the loss of their "safe place" of home where they can be assured of security and encouragement from both parents who can reinforce each other's parenting.

 As a stepfamily minister and family mediator since 1996, and a teacher of court-required classes for divorcing parents of minors, I've seen many, many detrimental effects of divorce on children. I've also heard many, many parents trying to justify their divorces by saying the children will be better off. 

 No, they won't be better off. As Judith Wallerstein points out in her book, What About the Kids?, children whose parents divorce are affected by the divorce the rest of their lives in almost every conceivable context, from their self-esteem and -confidence, to their social interactions, to their own marriages and parenting. By far most of the divorcing parents who come through my classes are children of divorce themselves who are just passing along the epidemic.

 I've watched these scarred children try to fit into stepfamilies in second or third marriages. It is sad to see! They exhibit signs of trauma, insecurity, fear, distrust, anger, acting out, parental isolation, hostility toward the new adults, and most every other trauma-related behavior. Divorce is wrong toward your spouse to whom you've sworn to be true for life; it's abusive to your children who trust you both to care for them unselfishly.

STEPcoach Bob Collins

Thursday, January 3, 2013

To My 13-Year-Old, An iPhone Contract From Your Mom, With Love

Interesting responses. It looks to me like the responders who criticize the lack of trust in the list have never parented a teenager (as I have). One person suggested the parents should let the kids learn from mistakes "like we did." But the mistakes kids can make today have much, much, MUCH more dangerous ramifications than ours did. With great power comes great responsibility. This parent seems to be guiding her son to learn these responsibility lessons in a real-life situation, rather than just talking it out to him. And as for not insisting on knowing his password ... DUH! Any parent who cares for their child's safety and is engaged in the growing process should know what's going on in their child's life. If a child is keeping secrets they don't want Mom or Dad to know, it's something they shouldn't be dabbling in. A parent has the responsibility of protecting, preparing, and guiding a child through childhood into adulthood, prepared to navigate the world on their own. Good job, Janell!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Stepdad's Christmas Gift

A Stepdad's Christmas Gift

by Bobby Collins
© 2012

<NOTE: this true story is taken from our lesson book, Responsibility of A Lifetime.>

It was a common enough story. The young man had already fallen in love with 
the girl, they had been seeing each other for awhile, they had even made 
plans to get married. Their future looked perfect.

Then, not too long before their wedding, she told him she was pregnant. He 
was stunned. Not just about the unplanned pregnancy, but mostly because the 
two of them had not ... done anything yet. Both had agreed to wait until 
they were officially husband and wife. So, whose was the baby?! He knew it 
was not his. But she was turning to him to help her solve her problem.

His first thought was to save himself - just cut her loose, that was what 
his friends said. She could tell her family whatever she wanted. It was none 
of his business. She had gotten herself into this mess, let her get herself 
out. He had his whole life (not to mention the reputation of his family!) to 
think of.

But the more he thought about that, the more he realized he could not just 
leave her to face it alone. She was really special -- and he was really in 
love. Something about her touched his heart in a way he had never been 
touched before. And he was afraid he would never feel this way again if he 
let her go.

So, against all advice and common sense, he decided to stick around - at 
least long enough to help her get through the pregnancy. Some of her family 
(and most of her friends) had decided that she was a slut and did not 
deserve to have their friendship and help. One by one they turned away from 
her in disgust, some openly, some by just insisting they were constantly too 
busy to see her. Finally,  he was her only friend, her only support.

Of course, it meant more difficulties, since they had not planned on it. 
Neither of them had any money for a baby - they barely had enough for the 
two of them. And still, always in the back of his mind -- it was not his 

The birth was difficult, but he was there to help. He never left her side as 
she birthed someone elses baby. After the baby boy was born, his feelings 
for this girl were even stronger. Plus, since it was part of her, he had 
already started caring for her baby.

As the little boy grew by days, months, and years, the man never tried to 
say he was his dad, even though he felt like it more and more of the time.

So, this stepdad moved unofficially into the position of daddy to the little 
boy. He helped him when the baby took his very first steps. He taught the 
boy the important things in life:  how to fish, how to throw a ball, and how 
to spit without getting yourself wet. He showed him the beauty of a sky full 
of stars, a sunset over the lake, and a flower in the grass.

He also taught the little boy to know the difference between right and 
wrong, to be respectful of his elders, and to be fair when he played games 
with others. And he taught his stepson to be nice to ladies and girls and 
those littler than him.

The stepdad showed his wife's son what it means to be committed to someone, 
even though you might not be responsible for them legally. He loved the boy 
no matter how he acted. He never turned away from him.

He also demonstrated how a real man should love his wife - tenderly, 
unselfishly, and unconditionally. The boy saw his stepfather loving his 
mother in many ways: by speaking respectfully to her, by helping her with 
the household chores, by opening doors and holding chairs for her, and by 
giving her his full attention.

He showed his stepson how to work hard, but still make time for important 
details like the boy's sports and school events. He took his family to 
church to show them the importance of worship and gratitude for being part 
of a family. He laughed and he cried with the boy, and he helped him grow 
into a good man because a good man cared.

And when the young man had grown and was ready to leave home for a life of 
his own, the stepdad lost part of his heart. Even though the boy was not 
really his own. Because thats what stepparents do.

And because this unselfish man was willing to take on a family that was not 
really his; because he looked beyond a girl's shame and into her heart; and 
because he gave the best years of his life to love and guide and care for 
someone else's son ... because he took on the Responsibility of A Lifetime as a 
stepparent, his stepson - Jesus - passed on to us many of the lessons he 
learned from his stepdad, Joseph.

MORAL of the story:

Your stepchild may not turn out as perfect as Joseph's did, but every stepchild - even yours is as important to God as Joseph's was. Look for the good in your stepchild. Nurture that spark of divine. Bless him or her as though he or she was that Christmas stepchild of Joseph's. 

You don't have to be a Joseph - or a Mary - to be a vital part of your stepchild's development. Give your heart. Give your time. Give your mate all of you, and your stepchild will see and learn about love from you. You can be the most important contribution your stepchild receives.

Friday, December 14, 2012

For the Conn. Families ...

My dear Stepfamily friends,

Please stop and pray for the families of the children and teachers killed and injured in Connecticut today. The pain they will go though this holiday season makes even our stepfamily issues seem small and trivial by comparison.

Take time to pray for and appreciate your children AND your stepchildren. And, as you try to explain to them what has happened, and how it could happen, be sure to remind them the the Lord loves them no matter how much craziness is in this world. His mercy and love is everlasting.

I hope you will take this sad experience to heart and, if you've been angry or dissatisfied in your marriage and stepfamily, you will reconsider your stance. Consider, instead, embracing them (even the stiff, cranky, or rebellious ones) with a love that can melt the distrust. Love them MORE than you would hope to be loved were you in their shoes.

I will be sending out another regular newsletter this weekend. Until then,

Go with God,
STEPcoach Bob

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