One of the hardest things we deal with in our blended family is religion. My husband and I raised our kids in a Christian home and took the kids to church every Sunday. We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and if you know anything about our religion, you now that we practice it 7 days a week. My faith is very important to me, but I wasn’t always “Mormon.”
Growing Up in Religion
As a little girl, my dad was the bishop of our ward for about six years until he had an affair with a woman from church that broke up two families. The woman became my stepmom and I was never really very close with her. She didn’t really like when we visited my dad and she is actually the reason I never wanted to become a stepmom myself. (If you met my husband, you would understand that I never had a chance!) My dad left the church for a number of years and so did my mom. I stopped going to church in my teenage years, partied for a few years, had a couple kids out of wedlock, and investigated some other churches. It took me from the age of 15 to 29 for me to decide to go back to my church. After a long road of searching, praying, and trying out some other things, I decided I wanted to be a member of my church again. That experience actually made me even stronger in my faith than ever before.
Meeting my Husband
When I met my husband, we were on the same page about how we wanted to raise the kids, but my ex and his ex were anti-church. His ex-wife had left the church and was living a party life at the time. She was mad at the church and everyone in it for telling her she was making a mistake leaving her family. My ex-husband was Catholic when he was much younger, but was partying, drinking, and living a very non-Christian life for most of the time that I knew him and for my kids entire lives. He was actually pretty anti-Mormon. With those influences, we knew it wouldn’t be easy to teach them and convince them that we had a better formula for happiness.
My Kids’ Beliefs
Fast forward about 12 years and we now have six adult kids and one teenager. The first five kids don’t go to church and haven’t for years. The oldest (my daughter) practices shamanism and reiki and participates in pagan practices. The second oldest (my stepdaughter) spent some years partying and living with boyfriends and now participates in paganism. The third oldest (my stepson) now practices paganism. The fourth (my son) stopped going to church and then married a catholic girl. She goes to church and wants to raise their kids catholic and my son doesn’t really care about any religion. The fifth kid, (stepson #2) drinks like a fish right now and we have no idea what he believes. The sixth (stepdaughter #2) is serving a mission for our church and is very strong in her faith. The seventh still lives with us and goes to church with us while feeling very awkward about the beliefs of her siblings.
My husband’s ex-wife has been investigating re-joining our church now, but still participates in pagan holidays, etc. with the other kids. I’m not really sure how she reconciles that with the first commandment (Thou shalt not put any other Gods before me), but I’m glad she is finding some happiness in returning to Christ.
Recently, there was a pagan holiday called Mabon, which is basically a celebration of the harvest or fall equinox. The stepkids and their spouses were having a feast and the kids’ mom pushed for our teenager to join them. My husband and I didn’t love the idea, but she already feels like the 5th wheel every time her siblings get together and we weren’t going to be home that night. On the way out the door, she said it sounded fun but she wasn’t sure what they were doing. I told her I thought they were having a feast, but she may not want to Google it because she might see some things that are scary. I did not expound, but I had done some research the year before (when they celebrated Mabon) and although most everything just talked about celebrating the fall harvest, there were images of wiccans dressing in robes, painting their faces, and sacrificing animals, which I thought was scary and thought a teenager that hadn’t been around it might as well. I have other pagan friends and I’ve witnessed their rituals and chanting to the pagan ancestors and it makes me uncomfortable, but I respect their right to worship whomever they please.
One of the things that almost always happens in our family is that if I say anything, people take it out of context, read into it, etc. I honestly think that if I can be viewed as the bad guy, some of them use it as a way to get attention from the others. Anyway, this time it was the teenager! She got to her mom’s house for their pagan feast and we started getting nasty-gram messages on Group Me about me saying it was scary and satanic. Wow, I really should have seen that one coming! I honestly feel a lot more betrayed when it’s the youngest that does that to me, since I’ve been raising her since she was three years old. However, I do think it is a way for her to get attention from her older siblings. And it worked! Again!
Saying it’s hard to be the stepmom in these types of conflicts is certainly an understatement! I just want what is best for all of them, but it doesn’t matter what I say, it is twisted into something that isn’t what I meant.
One of the really hard things for me is that our church believes in eternal families, but only if everyone lives worthily as followers of Christ. It makes it hard to know that we taught them what we believe and that they basically chose a path that communicates that they don’t want to be with us eternally. They say we are judgmental and not open-minded enough. With our kids. We aren’t open-minded. You should meet our kids. And we SHOWER them with love and understanding.
Anyway, I wanted to share this because I know it can be a very difficult road to navigate.
4 Tips When Approaching Religion & Acceptance With Your Family
- People generally assume you are feeling the way they are, approaching situations the way they do, etc. They project that onto others. My husband and I have heard our kids say many times that people in the church are judgmental, but isn’t that judgmental of them to say that? If they say we don’t respect their beliefs, it’s most likely because they are the ones that don’t respect ours. I think you get my point here.
- As a stepparent, it is important to be on the same page with your spouse. The kids will get older and move on. The important thing is the common goals and beliefs with your spouse. If you don’t have that, I’m really sorry. I have been in that situation in my previous marriage and it is hard, but stay strong. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon your beliefs either.
- You don’t have any control over what the kids say about you. You really don’t. You can be careful about everything that comes out of your mouth and one of them will still make it something that it wasn’t. I have come to terms with it. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt me or anger me. It just is. The important thing is that your spouse knows the truth. Your marriage is what matters.
- Love them even when they are being ridiculous. That is really hard and it is definitely where my faith comes in, because without Christ, I’m not sure I could even do it. It takes a lot of prayer and working to become more like Him.
Did you enjoy reading my blog post on Religion, Respect, and Acceptance? You might like my blog post on My Time With My Stepdaughters.
What is blended family?
According to Your Dictionary, “A blended family is defined as a family made of two parents and their children from previous marriages. An example of a blended family is a woman with two children from a previous marriage who marries a man with three children from a previous marriage.”
What are common problems and challenges for blended families?
Common problems for blended families include children not feeling loved or feeling left out, sibling rivalry, children manipulating parents, ex-spouses, dreading holidays, vacations, marital problems, finances and discipline (or lack thereof).
Can blended families be successful?
Although many stepfamilies seem doomed for failure, it is absolutely possible for a blended family to be successful. While some situations are unhealthy for everyone involved, many families can be saved if there is a desire to work through the problems.
How common are blended families?
Blended families are becoming more common. According to Pew Research 62% of children in the U.S. live in two-parent households and 15% of those are living with parents in a remarriage.
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