Grandfamilies: On Trust

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Cadence and His Rob-Daddy. July 2011. Las Vegas.

Picture your family relationships like a stack of blocks. And we’re not talking about the orderly stacking that results in pyramids or little models of the White House. Oh, no. This stack is haphazard. You didn’t select your children’s personalities, did you? If we could, then maybe we would stand an outside chance of stacking pyramids.

The more blocks you add, the less stable the stack o’ blocks becomes. So naturally, extended families are wobblier than the nuclear families that comprise them, simply by virtue of the additional blocks tossed onto the stack. Add in the increased blocks that accompany blended families, and the tower of blocks may teeter.

So how do you help keep your blended extended family from collapsing in a heap?


Trust glues those blocks together. Once you have trust, the tension that propels life as lived by imperfect people–that’s us–won’t knock everyone’s block off. 

Let us suppose that your new son-in-law came complete with two daughters. You’ve invited the girls, ages 15 and 12, to spend a weekend with you. When you pick the children up on Saturday morning, your daughter tells you that their dad will reclaim them by 2 on Sunday afternoon so they can complete a few weekend chores and still make the youth group’s pool party and barbecue, scheduled for Sunday evening. You smile and nod, pack up the teens and make your way home.

After church on Sunday, your husband agrees to take the girls and drop them at the nail salon–your treat. They depart, you kick off your shoes, tidy up the kitchen, and relax in the quiet of the empty house.

Precisely at 2, your new son-in-law arrives to claim his daughters. Which would be grand, except they aren’t there, because you forgot to tell your husband about the schedule. And he, being a grandpa, took the girls for frozen yogurt after their nails were done.

Outcome A: You all trust each other. You apologize for your mistake, call your husband, and chat with the new son-in-law while your husband hurries home with the girls. All is well.

Outcome B: Trust isn’t in place. Your son-in-law believes you are undermining his authority over his daughters by interfering in his plan for chores. The girls think you tried to get them in trouble. Your daughter is convinced you’re unconsciously trying to derail her new marriage. Your husband fears you’ll shift the blame to him. All is not well. Everyone is still smiling, sure, but doubts have started to rattle the pile of bricks.

Friends, please remember what a treasure trust is. It’s precious. Don’t mess with it. Safeguard it.

And if you want more of this particular treasure, I only know one way to create it: you go first. 

Trust your family. Don’t act like you trust the other members of your family. Trust them. 

What if past experience makes that advice seem ill-suited? Start small–just on the far side of your comfort zone–and go from there. And always, always, lean hard into the One who will never, ever, betray your trust. 

Remember that our trust in one another will always be flawed, as will our trustworthiness. But with perfect trust in God, the imperfect trust we manage for one another will be enough. 

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And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Psalm 9:10 (NASB)

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On Tuesdays, we’re talking about families and the joys and challenges that arise when we stretch across three (or more?) generations (child, parent, grandparent). Everyone is welcome, and I hope to hear each generation’s perspective.  Being family is by turns effortless, impossible, blessed, challenging, hurtful, joyous . . . . Let’s talk about it.
Please join us.

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