Conference offers tools for blended families

Statistics tell us that half of first marriages end in divorce, three-quarters of those divorcees will remarry, and if kids are involved, a blended family will be created.

A Concord church will delve into the challenges that blended families face in a conference Nov. 4-5.

"Blended family" is a modern term for what used to be called a stepfamily. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines "blended family" as "a family that includes children of a previous marriage of one spouse or both."

Today, a blended family can include children from several previous marriages and relationships, "half siblings" (two children who share one parent) and adopted children.

The bad news is that at least three in five of those remarriages will end in divorce.

The Pew Research Center released a national report Jan. 13 giving the following statistics on blended families:

Forty-two percent of adults - 95.5 million - have either a stepparent, a step- or half-sibling or a stepchild.

Thirteen percent of adults - between 29 million and 30 million - are stepparents. Fifteen percent of men (16.5 million) are stepfathers, and 12 percent of women (14 million) are stepmothers.

If your head is spinning after reading that, you are not alone.

Years ago on television, the most famous blended family was the loving Brady Bunch; today it's the Kardashians.

That just goes to show how much the times have changed.

All this family blending can make life very complicated.

That is why Concord Christian Church is offering a two-day conference just for step-families.

Titled "Restored and Remarried," it is created to help both those who have remarried and those who are contemplating remarrying.

"We are excited to offer this conference, with hopes that it will strengthen marriages, not only at Concord Christian Church, but also within the communities around us," said Lead Minister Jeff Hugus.

The conference will be led by Gil and Brenda Stuart, who are married with seven children between them.

They believe it's not easy to combine different traditions, rules and personalities from two different families into one home.

Their goal is to encourage and equip these marriages with practical tools.

The church has never offered this type of conference before, so leaders are expecting a large turnout.

"We see the need, with so many blended families today, and hurting marriages," Hugus said.