Family Fusion Week 2
Pastor Ron Macciola and Robin Macciola
Robin and I have been happily married for 194 months… That’s 16 years and 2 months – but who’s counting.
This morning we would like to share with you how we navigate through blending adult children relationships AND, our most favorite part, blending the cutest grandchildren on this planet.
Paul says in 1 Cor 12:14
“A body is not just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different, but similar parts arranged and functioning together. If the foot said, “I’m not elegant like the hand embellished with rings: I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so?
Paul states the analogy of the body of Christ to the physical body. He goes on to say this in vs. 18
“As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.”
I believe we can insert that quote, “God has carefully placed each family member right where he wanted them.”
In our family, there are as many strengths as there are children. Most of these are from the Strength Finder test.
We have :
Responsibility and Learner
Loyal and Optimistic
WOO and Developer
Strategic and Competition
Optimistic and Wise
Responsibility and Relator
Strategic and Maximizer
Disciplined, Loyal and Caring
As well as our strengths:
Ron is Adaptability and Includer
Robin is Maximizer and Empathy
It’s hard to remember and celebrate all these strengths, but you are your child’s greatest cheerleader. And as they’ve become adults, I find myself enjoying their strengths vs. weaknesses.
I remember a quote from a mother who asked her child to clean their room. Instead of cleaning the room, they were playing with something I am sure they uncovered because they couldn’t see it. When mom came back in the room, she looked around and commented, “Well, your ceiling looks nice and clean.” I’m sure I didn’t quote that exactly right, but this comment stuck with me. Instead of seeing what our children don’t do, see what they do – especially as they become adults. We have sons that are great husbands and fathers and have made great contributions to our family and their community and I try to tell them how proud we are of them as often as I can. It is just as important to praise them as adults as you did when they were learning to tie their shoes or write their names.
So this is what Robin and I have observed together:
Each Adult is unique and realizing their strengths and weaknesses liberates us a parents from having to control any of them (which is not a good idea, anyway)
Here are some of our observations
1. Let them talk.
2. Keep confidences
Sometimes we like what they say, and sometimes we don’t. Our children need to feel the freedom to talk with us. As they become adults, the conversation changes, as does our roles as parents we need to watch our reactions to what they are saying. My kids live in a different generation and culture than I grew up in and boy, are things different. I try so hard to listen to what is on their minds without my jaw dropping or gasping.
Even between your children. You cannot “trust” one child more that the others. This is one sure way to sink your family boat.
3. Don’t interfere in sibling conflicts (if you have aught against your brother, go to your brother, not your mother or father – Macciola translation).
As parents we always want harmony in our home, especially us mothers. Getting between your children will exasperate the disagreement and usually put you in the hot seat. Encourage them to talk to each other. You have to be Switzerland – a neutral party – stay out of it. (spoken from experience)
4. Don’t give advice unless asked:
I have a plaque in my office that says, "As we found in our own lives, sometimes they don’t need solutions, just an ear to listen. " I remember my mother giving me advice about something I had made my mind up about. I thought that I was wiser than my mother and she simply said she was trying to just give me another point of view since she had lived a few more years than me and was trying to keep me from making some of the same mistakes. I was so upset, I told my mother that I wanted to make my own mistakes, just like she did. The outcome might be different in my situation. I was young and stupid. Lord, place one hand around my shoulder and one across my mouth
5. Pray for them constantly.
1 Thes 5:17 ought to be tattooed on every parent’s forehead,
I want to make a statement about prayer and then confess:
Because we have 5 children, I have placed each of their names on the calendar of my phone so that I am praying for one son and their family each day during the week. Now my confession is this – I don’t always remember to do that… but as their names come across my mind and my heart, I lift them up in prayer daily.
“Pray without ceasing.”
Texting is a wonderful way to share 911 prayer requests with your children
Eg. Justin’s motorcycle accident – we got the original call by land line, but kept everyone up to date by cell phone.
Judah’s surgeries – Josh and Dana are great at letting us know and then we let the rest of the extended family and close friends know
Changes in jobs – as the kids have been seeking prayer for job interviews
Health and financial issues
It’s funny. Call your child and it goes to voicemail with no quick reply. Text them and they answer immediately.
It’s so important to establish traditions.
In the word, we are exhorted to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves as the manner of some is.” I believe we can borrow from that and apply it to our families.
We have been relentless in trying to get together monthly for a family meal since the boys are all relatively close and established. It can be difficult with the schedules of 9 very active adults, but this allows us to see them all together. It also allows brothers and sisters to get together regularly and cousins to have fun together. We also take this time to celebrate birthdays, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. While the Bible exhorts believers to not forsake getting together, I believe that admonition also applies to families… and especially blending families. It is a lot of work to plan a monthly meal and set 17 people around a dinner table. And that number increases as our grandchildren get older. I have conceded to paper plates and plastic cups, and on occasion I use aluminum pans, but it is so we have less time in the kitchen cleaning up after the meal and more quality time around the table talking – it’s the best. A full table makes this mama’s heart full.
Our second main tradition is getting together for Christmas. It’s a holiday all of us in this room probably celebrate, but in a blending family, each kid can have 4 different families to celebrate on top of their spouse’s family… It can be very stressful on adult children during Christmas to have brunch with one family, lunch with another, dinner with another, and dessert with another, let alone developing their own family traditions. So… we have chosen to establish our own blending family tradition to have our Christmas celebration 2 Sundays before the actual date of Christmas. It took us a while to get to this
place, but this works well. It allows us to gather at our home in Fremont, have a brunch after church, read the Christmas story involving the grandchildren, open gifts and have our Turkey dinner in the early evening. It also removes pressure for our children that are involved in Christmas activities at their own churches.
It gives us a little slice of Ps 133.1:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.
OK – now to our beautiful grandchildren.They are 9, 4, almost 3 and 1 years old.
I would like to introduce you to Papa Bear and Nana Noni. All of our grandchildren call us these names. Blending grandchildren for us has been a no brainer. They are OUR grandkids and fight over them like all grandparents do.
We do our best to do a one on one with all of them. Not always easy when they don’t live near.
We try to have Brennan every Thursday evening for dinner, projects and games (and sometimes homework) It’s great having him to ourselves.
Because Lily and Judah (and our grand dog, Gemma) live in Elk Grove, we try to facetime with them weekly. We usually do it on Thursday nights so that Brennan and Lily can have cousin time as well. This allows us a visual and we get to sing two of our favorite songs. The ABCs and Jesus Loves me.
These are precious moments as grandparents and allow the love we have for our grandchildren to continue. We started a tradition with our first grandchild Brennan, that the May after they turn 4 years old, we take them on a Disneyland vacation just us the 3 of us. That makes great memories for them and us. Brennan had his first plane ride, taxi ride, bus ride, the list goes on. Lily’s turn is coming up!!
We tried to take every opportunity to babysit. With both of us working full time, it is not as often as we would like, but we try to do some overnights as well. It’s funny how all the grandkids know which bedroom is theirs.
What are the things you can offer your grandchildren.
Playing old fashion card games
I would like to share a resource with you. A book by Lee Roberts entitled “Praying God’s will for my Son/Daughter/Grandchildren” has helped us pray for our children over the years. I have personally used this years ago with a group of me called Papa’s Club. In the table of contents, it lists different areas of prayer concern for your child.
For example: courage, distress, doubting God.
So let us recap what we have shared with you this morning.
1. Each child has been placed in your family according to God’s purpose – they all come with
2. Let them talk. They need the freedom to talk and we need the freedom to listen
3. Keep confidences. This will keep your family ship afloat
4. Don’t interfere with sibling conflicts.
5. Don’t give advice unless asked
6. Pray for them constantly
7. Traditions are important for the whole family – it’s what the kids and grandkids hold on to.different strengths and quirks and quacks.