When Change in the Family is Hard

This year at She Speaks Intensive, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Susan Greenwood. The more I talked to Susan, the more I knew she had wisdom to share with us! Today, Susan gives us practical tips on how to handle change in our families. {Winner from Wednesday’s Wisdom Tip at bottom of post}.

Here is Susan:


“My new spouse loves my children and is great with them; yet, they continually reject him. I don’t understand why they push him away. He has done nothing to deserve their rejection.”


Sound familiar?


Change is difficult no matter your age. For children, change, especially involving divorce, can manifest feelings of insecurity and spur bouts of acting out. There is little else they can control, so, behavior becomes a tool to express opposition.


One way children express opposition is through rejection.


Rejecting the new mate is your child’s way of saying, “I didn’t choose this and I don’t approve.” They identify accepting the new spouse with approving of the divorce or being ready to move on. It doesn’t matter how well the spouse treats them nor how much he does for them, they will continue to push him away in protest until they come to terms with the changes.


Here are three key things you can do to help them transition:


1)    Encourage Open yet Careful Communication

Allow your child to openly share their grievances, fears, and inhibitions with you without the fear of punishment. Allow them to speak freely but do not permit them to be disrespectful. Set boundaries ahead of time that will foster good communication and mutual respect. It is unlikely you will dispel all issues presented; however, establishing open lines of communication is invaluable.


2) Offer Consistency

In the midst of change, children will look for any semblance of normalcy in an attempt to reclaim security and stability. Be as consistent as possible with home structures, discipline, and activities. Prepare them ahead of time with possible disruptions. Establishing a routine and creating a schedule with your child, will provide tangible boundaries that will help them feel safe.


3) Provide Choices

Offering your child opportunities to make choices will help them feel like they have some control and are contributing to the family. This may cut back on their need to use behavior as a tool. Choices should be between two predetermined options, such as, “Should we have lasagne or hot dogs for dinner?” Open ended choices can be overwhelming and cause frustration. Plus, you want to be sure you can provide what they’ve chosen.

Implementing these three things will alleviate some of the tension and uncertainties your child is experiencing. When they feel safe and settled, they will be more able to adjust to changes.

Today, Susan is giving away 5 copies of her book, A Parent’s Guide to Spiritual Milestones! To enter, just share in comments below or at www.LynnCowell.com a time when change was or is hard in your family. If you’re on the run, just say, “I’m in!” Winners will be announced on Monday.

Susan Greenwood is a wife, mother, blogger, author and teacher. Her passion is to help parents cultivate a legacy of faith in their children. She has a book entitled, A Parent’s Guide to Spiritual Milestones, which enables parents to talk to their children about important spiritual truths like: being marked with sin, salvation, and growing in faith. She recently started leading workshops and seminars for church leaders teaching the concepts outlined in her book. You can find Susan online at susangreenwood.net.

The winner of my CD message “Building a Bridge to Your Child’s Heart” and the gift card to Starbuck’s is Amanda who posted at 1:18 p.m. on 2/20/12. Amanda, please email me your full name and address and I’ll get it right out.

Have a terrific weekend friends! I’ll be speaking at “His Revolutionary Love” conference in Carthage, North Carolina. I can’t wait to see all that God does!




  1. Thank you for posting this blog post- It was so encouraging!

    A time when change has been difficult for our family was almost 2 years ago when we adopted our daughter- Our Adoption has been such a blessing but the transition was a bit stressful. We have 2 biological sons who were 15 and 12 at the time we adopted our daughter (we adopted her at birth by way of an open domestic adoption)………..We had to learn a new way of ‘family time’ that would include a baby (we had been out of baby phase for over 10 years)…………Again, I can not say enough what a blessing adoption has been but in those first few months after our Ellie was born the ‘family time’ transition was difficult!
    Have a great day 🙂

    1. So great that you were willing to open your home to Ellie! This is a great point too that even good changes cause transition pains. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. A few years ago my parents divorced after 31 years of marriage. I didn’t deal with it very well, mostly because my dad quickly found a new wife and all of a sudden I had 3 stepbrothers! It was a lot of change to take in and it turned my world upside down. Sometimes I think I would have dealt better with their split if they had done it when I was child.

    1. Hi Kerry,
      It is definitely difficult at any age. I was five when my parent’s divorced and I had some major insecurities as a result. I was amazed to see the same insecurities manifest in my college friend when his parents divorced when he was twenty.
      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Parent’s divorce, death of grandparent and new baby in a few months span!

    1. Yikes! Three biggies at once with a huge array of emotions I’m sure. This makes you a change master.! Hopefully you have found some normalcy. Blessings to you!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Melinda Piper says:

    Ahh lie changes. Funny you mention that. I wasn’t goin to mention all our life changes yet He has bigger plans. Guess I NEED to let it out. My daughter has been diagnosed with not only ADHD but ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). She is the epitome of the above descriptions. My husband ad I have been married a short time and have a new baby and my daughter is completely defiant towards him regardless of his numerous attempts.

    Three short weeks ago I myself was diagnosed with Bopolar and am struggling with accepting his diagnosis. I have questioned God as to why would he put this on me in such a hard time as is. I have anger myself and am trying to control the situation to no avail. If nothing else please just pray for me ad my family. We need ALL THE PRAYER we can get.

    Thank you all and have a blessed day!

    1. I will definitely add you to my prayer list, Melinda. Hopefully sharing this openly will bring answer and healing. Your daughter having ODD will definitely heighten the difficulty of this situation and her accepting change. There are different tactics for reasoning with an ODD child. Unfortunately, knowing which ones can only come through trial and error. Discovering her triggers and learning new ways to approach difficult situations will help dispel future conflicts.

      Keep yielding this to God. It may feel like He is distant or not answering but He will use these difficulties to refine godly character in all involved.

      Side note: One word of caution, my friend is bipolar and her daughter has ADD. They started her daughter on Strattera to help her focus and it brought out bipolar episodes in her. Thankfully, the tantrums stopped when they stopped the med’s.

    2. I will be praying for you and your family. Jesus is still healing today as He did in the bible. Mark 9:14-29 & James 5:13-16. We as God’s people have a right to all the benefits of salvation. Whole, healthy & sound God bless you.

  5. Great suggestions for handling transitions!

    A time of change for our family was when our kids switched school districts. It was especially hard on our daughter, who was going into 8th grade. We had a few very tough weeks but made it–and the change was definitely the best for both of them.

    God’s blessings to you in your writing!

    1. Thank you, Shelly! And thank you for the encouragement!! I am glad everyone made it through the adjustments. Any tips you can share that helped your daughter adjust?

  6. Wow! I’m thankful I came across this encouragement today!! I”m struggling with my daughter’s rejecting my new husband! I don’t know how many times I have said this: “My new spouse loves my children and is great with them; yet, they continually reject him. I don’t understand why they push him away. He has done nothing to deserve their rejection.” I’m just keep trusting God….

    May God Bless You!!

  7. iraida malpica says:

    great suggestions and even though i dont have the same situation as another man in my life, for certainly, my son has suffered great deal the abandonment of his father

  8. These are great tips to use. I wish I had these 10 years ago when I was a young single mom and met the man who is now my husband. My son was 3 when we met and his dad kept telling him negative things so he then acted out with my husband. I didn’t know how to talk to him or explain that we were a family and that my husband loved him also and wanted to take care of us and wasn’t trying to take me away. My husband loves my son, he has adopted him as his own and I know their bond is growing more and more.

  9. Karen Terwilliger says:

    We’ve been separated for 6 months after 18 years of marriage. Our girls (ages 13 and 15) don’t say much to anyone and appear to be fine…..but I’m not sure about that.

    1. It is possible they are dealing well with the separation. Our children can be more perceptive than we think. They may see that the separation was necessary. However, if they are repressing their feelings, it is possible that the next change may cause feelings to manifest more strongly. I will pray for you and your girls, Karen! Thank you for sharing.

  10. My daughters & I went through a divorce 5 years ago after 15 years of marriage. I tried to protect my daughters from the infidelity & alcohol of their dad that caused the divorce… I feel now it has caused more damage than good! The girls are now 15 & 19 and i feel there is alot of resentment! We are constantly battling satan with lies & situations of turmoil… God has been with me through all the struggles but sometimes I just wish God would lay it out for me how to help my girls…. I pray daily for them and have many family members & friends praying. I have ordered the book His Revolutionary Love for my youngest daughter because she has struggled the most with the family change & I am praying she realizes God is the answer to all her insecurities that her dad & I caused because of the divorce! God bless & thank you for your blogs & website!

    1. Praying for them and pointing them to God is fantastic! I’ll be praying for you and your daughters, Sunny!!

  11. Anna Gonales says:

    When my daughter met her husband, Lauren was only 5 years old. They both lived with me and my granddaughter and I were and are very close. She is 18 now and loves her step-dad, but the early years were hard. She wanted to spend weekends with me all the time and when she went home she was very rebellious and rude to both my daughter and her new husband. The transition was hard for Lauren and I, but I finally had a heart to heart talk with her. She kept reminding me that she had another father – her natural dad, but he wasn’t in the picture. I told her that her new dad loved her and would do anything for her and she needed to respect him. Her mother still loved her and would never leave her and she had me. But most importantly, she had a Father in heaven who loved her unconditionally. It was a long process, but eventually she grew to love her new dad and calls him DAD. Yes, change is hard, but with God nothing is impossible. At nine years old, Lauren accepted Christ into heart without any prompting on my part or that of my daughter’s. We were consistent to plant seeds of love with discipline where needed.

    1. Wonderful!! Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure this will serve as encouraging to others!

  12. Everything changed when my dad had a heart attack. I was a freshman in high school and he ws out of work for 2 years.

  13. Everything changed when my dad had a heart attack. I was a freshman in high school and he ws out of work for 2 years. It humbled me for the rest of my life.

  14. Everything changed when my dad had a heart attack. I was a freshman in high school and he ws out of work for 2 years. It humbled me for the rest of my life.

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