To create a discussion group specifically designed for parents and youth of stepfamilies or soon-to-become stepfamilies.
- Prepare and gather information that will support and answer the questions raised in the summary.
- Prepare media clips of current or old shows that specifically deal with the group dynamics of the stepfamily. (i.e., “Brady Bunch,” “Who’s The Boss,” etc.)
- Brainstorm with other leaders the problems of stepfamilies and establish small group discussion starters for each topic.
Use mixers to bring the families together. Modify games by using characteristics of the people in the families so that they all will mix. A good one is the barnyard mixer. Instead of having everyone find their same animal type by using the same animal sound have them find each other by using a family characteristic that is predominant and can be easily distinguished (i.e., noses, eye color, hair color). When they do not exactly match the family it shows that all types go into a family and that we can blend.
Two possible situations to help stepfamilies follow:
- Show a movie or television clips of interaction between any stepfamilies. Ideas include “The Brady Bunch” or “Who’s the Boss” (they are not married, but have a similar family setup). Show clips of how they handle struggles together. It may be helpful to show how they get along perfectly and how things always work out by the end of the show. Media paint pictures that are unattainable. After showing the clips, ask the following questions to get your group thinking about their family:
- Is this realistic?
- How does your family handle the same situation?
- Is there more fighting going on in your family?
- How does it make you feel when you see a television family work things out so quickly?
- Should you try to talk and work things out? Should things always be resolved before the day ends?
- How well do you think your family functions?
- Are your expectations too high?
- Create discussion groups for stepfamilies. Have trained counselors with you as you try to help stepfamilies work through communication, struggles, and daily situations. One of the best ways to help is to get the members of the family talking to each other. Affirm their communication. Establish weekly meetings. During the weekly meetings, separate the age groups to encourage kids and parents to talk among their peer groups. Most people find it easier to talk with people who are their same age. Help them to discuss issues that they may not be able to talk about with their parents at this point. This can apply to parents too. After they become more comfortable talking, try other group arrangements, such as biological kids and parents together. All age groups of kids talking together may help younger siblings. Creatively stimulate effective interaction. Employ discussion starters. Encourage interaction at home as well. Help them to understand that growth, even slow, is positive.
- Each family member should be unconditionally accepted.
- Each family member has an important role and contribution to make to the family unit.
- Regardless of family dynamics, communication is key. All should have input.
- Boundaries need to be set and one authority put into place.
- The Bible supports the stepfamily as well as the traditional family. Young widows are encouraged to marry again.
- A stepfamily is-in a manner of speaking-one family adopting another. They care for and love one another, the greatest of all the commandments.
- This is a unique opportunity; make it count.
The relaxing of tensions and openness of communication are encouraging signs of the program. If the discussion groups continue, they will provide excellent feedback.
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