The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

February 16, 2014

Rich Brown: Support group formed to help blended families mix better

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Bible teaches the essence of love -- such as was emphasized Friday with Valentine's Day -- and the importance of being kind as Random Acts of Kindness Week wraps up on Sunday.

And although the Old Testament may have recorded many incidents of interaction among blended families, that is an issue that may need addressing more than ever today.

Scott and Jane Goade believe that to be true. That is why the Carl Junction couple is holding a blended family workshop/support group on Feb. 24 at St. Philip's Episcopal Church, where they are members.

Jane Goade, director of the Parents as Teachers Program for Carthage R-9 Schools, said the session will be informal, open and will hopefully be a springboard for future support group meetings.

The idea is not totally new to the Goades, who have a blended family themselves with boys coming from Scott's earlier marriage and girls from Jane's.

The couple was asked a few years ago by Colleen Ratcliff, director of Parents as Teachers in Lamar, to give a presentation and then again for teachers in the Carthage school system. After the Carthage event, they decided to present the idea to their church.

Frank Sierra, pastor of St. Philip's, was open to the idea and will be on hand for the Feb. 24 workshop to give the church's perspective on blended families.

Sierra said he hopes this first session will reveal what participants would like to get out of the support group as well as their interests.

"We may just be sharing stories and getting information, but that's OK," he said.

It will be all about finding out the needs of the people who come, said Jane Goade, a former Globe columnist who wrote about parenting.

She added that professionals such as counselors and an attorney have been lined up to help in future meetings based on the group's interests.

Other people who have lived a blended family situation, both as parents and children, are also lined up.

The session will be a time for families to share their experiences, whether successes or failures, in addition to hearing information on what to expect when blending different ages of children and how the parents must adjust.

Jane said she and Scott, a clinical pharmacist at Freeman Health System, don't claim to be experts but are simply learning as they go.

Jane said when she and her husband got together four years ago, she saw pictures in her head of the Brady Bunch, the joyful blended family in the television series by the same name.

However, that vision was soon dimmed with the couple facing massive challenges and struggles.

"Here we were, not just newlyweds but an instant family of teenagers," she said. "Dealing with growing a new marriage, new family members, some overjoyed, some kicking and screaming, making new traditions, dealing with issues, etc."

She said it wasn't long though before she found many other people in the same boat.

With about half of all marriages ending in divorce, Goade said she discovered that blended families were everywhere.

Blended families can sometimes also mean blending into a new church.

For the Goades, that meant joining St. Philip's. Scott came from a Catholic background and Jane from the Methodist denomination.

Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email richbrown @cableone.net.

Want to go?

The blended family workshop/support group will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, at St. Philip's Episcopal Church, 706 Byers Ave.

Details or registration: 417-649-7598.

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