Over the last 30 years, remarriage has become a far more common experience in American family life. A man and a woman remarry, each bringing children with them from a previous marriage. They all begin to live a new life together under one roof. I have no statistics to offer on how many Orthodox Christians face this reality.
How does this reality impact on making the family home a “Little Church?” Three things come to mind.
- Identity issues: Each family has a history before coming together as a reconstituted family. What happens to that history? What can continue, and what needs to change? If a false unity is imposed on the whole, causing some to prematurely lose practices/norms they have brought with them, trouble may arise. This could involve such areas as family rules, how one communicates, and parenting styles. I think it is important that regular family meetings take place to hash some of this out. I am assuming work had been done in preparation for the parents’ marriage. Such matters need to be discussed well before the marriage, and children should be involved in some of these discussions.
- Faith issues: While it would be great if everyone in the new, blended family were of the Orthodox Christian faith, this is often highly unlikely. In some ways, if two different Christian faith traditions are present, it might be better for family members to attend their respective churches. This, of course, is not ideal, but it does seem to give members more time to address this issue. It would be my hope that all of the members would in time embrace the Orthodox Church, but this has to happen when the time is right — and by choice.
- How does the family pray? One could just allow each family member to pray in the manner with which he or she has been accustomed. But this is one place that the family might be able to pray as a group, even when different faiths are involved. How about taking prayers from the Orthodox Tradition and prayers from the other faith tradition and seeing were there is overlap? This could form the basis for establishing a unity in prayer. Over the years this could lead into a greater growth “in life and faith and spiritual understanding.”
These suggestions are educated guesses on my part. This appears to be an area that does not get discussed often. I put this on the table for further consideration, thought and questions, something that I welcome since the above is just a start.
The blessing of the Lord be upon you,
The unworthy +Paul