03/16/14 — Seminar will cover stepfamily concerns

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Seminar will cover stepfamily concerns

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 16, 2014 1:50 AM

Marriage is hard enough when it's just two people, just starting out, says Sherry Jennings, marriage and family life pastor at The Bridge.

Add a couple of children on each side and a whole new set of challenges emerges, Mrs. Jennings said.

"'The Brady Bunch' is a lie. You never see the other bio family, and the conflict is resolved at the end of 30 minutes," she said.

Stepfamilies in general are a unique culture, Mrs. Jennings said. And something so important that the church is bringing a renowned speaker on the subject to lead a workshop next month.

Ron Deal, author, speaker and therapist, is founder and president of "As For Me and My House Ministries" and now serves as director of FamilyLife Blended.

"He's the foremost speaker on stepfamilies," Mrs. Jennings said. "He really has delved into this subject material."

Mrs. Jennings previously attended one of Deal's workshops. She said she was impressed with his frank discussion on the topic.

"I love how he defines the stepfamily. He highlights what they already know, all of the relationships that they have in stepfamilies," she said. "In the first family, there's two bio parents. Then they have the second marriage, you've got two sets of everything. With a third marriage, it goes up exponentially.

"How confusing that can be. It's difficult to blend families."

It's not about lowering expectations going into the situation, she explained, but rather changing the expectations.

"You can't expect your family to be harmonious in the first year. It takes five to seven years for the family to really gel," she said.

Deal's conference, "Building a Successful Stepfamily" will be the topic of the two-day event at The Bridge in Princeton the weekend of April 11-12. Early publicity has already generated widespread interest.

"Response has been great so far, with registrations pouring in from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and even New Hampshire," she said Monday. "Couples will travel seven hours to come to this kind of thing, because it's so unique. It's so needed.

"We'd love to have every single person in a stepfamily in Wayne County there."

Space is limited, however, with an estimated 100 to 150 couples being the ideal size for a workshop such as this.

The seminar is practical as well as humorous, she added, and is set up interactively.

"He puts you into situations, experiencing what your children feel," she said. "It's not just about the kids -- it's about money, celebrating holidays, traditions, all of those different facets of marriage."

A new component is also being added, pertinent to military stepfamilies, with a breakout session addressing that topic.

The event will take place the evening of Friday, April 11. Doors open at 6 p.m. with limited child care available, and the conference is from 7-9:30 p.m. On Saturday, April 12, doors open at 8 a.m. and the conference continues from 8:30 until 1 p.m., with lunch provided.

Cost for the conference, which covers lunch and materials, is $69 per couple or $39.50 for an individual. The rate goes up after March 31, when admission will be $79 a couple or $49.50 for individuals.

For more information or to register, call 919-735-5411.