Who Should Come First in My Stepfamily: My Spouse or My Children?

The relationship between parent and child is important, but it’s not as fundamental as the relationship between a husband and a wife (Genesis 2:24). Too often, though, parents feel a pull to put the children first in the family, and in the process, they neglect their spouse.

It’s natural for parents to feel protective of their children. But parents who have gone through a life-shattering divorce feel especially protective. They don’t want their children to hurt anymore, or to fear losing them again. For that reason, putting a new spouse first can feel like they are betraying their children.

Children need to know you love them and that you will always be there for them. Just as important, they need the security of a stable home. A healthy marriage gives children that security, because when a husband and a wife are looking out for each other’s interests, they will also look out for the best interests of the children.

Putting your spouse first never means that you neglect or abuse your children. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you allow a new spouse to neglect or abuse the children. Even something like showing favoritism, which is natural to do, should be talked about and addressed in a blended family. Ignoring unfair treatment is wrong (Romans 12:9). Parents are always responsible to provide loving, secure, healthy, and safe homes for their children to grow (Proverbs 14:26).

It’s important for husbands and wives to consider one another’s feelings and opinions. They need to stick together and head in the same direction as a couple and as parents. They should pursue each other and show deep care and respect for one another. A caring and loving spouse knows that what affects them, affects their spouse and the children. Happy marriages are loving, respectful, and considerate (Ephesians 5:21-33).

A good marriage not only gives children the security of a stable home, but it also gives them a positive example of what God intended a marriage to be. They will learn about love, confession, forgiveness, accountability, responsibility, and honesty. Parents who love one another deeply help their children develop realistic expectations about what it takes to build a strong marriage. Children need that kind of example to give them hope for their own futures.

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One thought on “Who Should Come First in My Stepfamily: My Spouse or My Children?

  1. I am a Christian and I have taken particular interest in this article for a couple of reasons.

    I find this is a very idealized article but does not address many of the realities of blended families.

    I do not have a relationship with my father because he has told me that he cannot have relationship with me without my stepmother present.

    I am 42 and adult and live in a different province but he does not feel he can visit me or interact with me because I’m choosing not to have her in my life any longer.

    I don’t believe the Bible explicitly talks about these choices in a modern way.
    It is important to note, that I would never asked my dad to choose-this is something he feels biblically compelled to do.

    The reason I do not have my stepmother in my life any longer is because my father enabled her to be very abusive when I was younger and in doing so I grew up in a very pseudo Christian family with many ghosts in our closets but no one could really openly talk about because they were more worried about societal standards and letting God down.
    My father felt he had a reputation to maintain that was much more important.
    My father and biological mother divorced when I was quite young.
    When he remarried, my biological mother’s presence was thwarted at every level including intercepted phone calls, mail and parcels.. and we were asked to be adopted by my stepmother biological mother wiped clean from our lives. I was three and bewildered.
    My older sister complied and I chose not to be adopted. In my small child’s mindset I didn’t understand why I couldn’t love all of my parents, including my biological mother.
    The relationship within my family steadily declined from that point forward, for me.
    There were days when I was asked to sleep in the barn and not be a part of our family has I questioned where my biological mother was and there was no counseling in the 70s to deal with such situations and the church just firmly stood behind my parental roles in that children should be submissive.
    My stepmother was the quintessential extreme narcissist and my father was the enabler.
    That is only part of the story, but I can tell you that in this modern day that the complexities are much greater.
    You do cover the fact that children are supposed to grow up in stable environments so I appreciate that in the article but it’s often missed amongst all the other information.
    There are nuances that just cannot be covered with excerpts from Genesis.
    I have grown in my faith because of my own searching and love for God but stand firm in how people from abusive homes can feel very alone when the church supports the parental role as the most important role.
    I have grown up with parents who have married and remarried and focused mainly on their happiness using the Bible to justify it. That approach is prevalent and concerns me.
    I feel, it would behoove the church to address these complexities in a much more tangible and constructive way.
    I have learned to forgive my stepmother and my family dynamics but I also have chosen the boundary of not having this woman in my adult life.
    That choice has lost me my father.
    To this day, my father feels very guilty for interacting with me if not under the guidance of my stepmom.

    I strongly agree, children do need a cohesive parental unit and I believe that couples should be stable and send their love outward as a healthy unit. But, I also believe in evolution and that does not happen when you sacrifice your children for your spouse.
    We are the next generation and it’s important to teach love and coping skills and a foundation because we are the generation that will continue forward.
    If it was your spouse or your child hanging off a bridge which would you let go of? Had I had the blessing of being a parent, I know as strongly as I know God, that I would tell my spouse to choose my child.
    I spent most of my 40 year struggling and I lost the chance of having children and became very disillusioned because of the abandonment and ostracizing nature of my childhood. I am very thankful for God’s power of love and healing but I also feel that it’s healthy assertion to stand my ground as an adult child.

    I may not need my father anymore physically but did and do need him in other ways- but I will learn to live without him because as it stands he uses the Genesis verse to justify a lack of relationship. Obviously, there are many sides to the story but what it does come down to is a much more complex issue then what many articles address.

    Thank you

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