Author, therapist and blended family expert Ron Deal will lead sessions to empower remarried couples and stepfamilies to learn, build and grow successful stepfamily relationships for harmonious living March 29-30 through a program sponsored by the Chapel program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. (Metro News Service photo)

Building great stepfamilies focus of open-to-the-public conference

Millions of people are in a stepfamily relationship, and the Chapel program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is sponsoring a mini conference to help up to 150 couples achieve the most successful blended families they can. The conference, scheduled for March 29-30 at Vineyard Church, 4051 Indian Ripple Road, Beavercreek, is open to the military community as well as blended families in the greater Dayton area.

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Author, therapist and blended family expert Ron Deal will lead sessions to empower remarried couples and stepfamilies to learn, build and grow successful stepfamily relationships for harmonious living.

Tickets are $15 per family and include conference materials, childcare for children ages newborn to 10 years old, Friday night dinner and Saturday breakfast.

Active-duty, reservist and Guard military members and Wright-Patterson AFB civilians will have priority registration Feb. 11 to March 1. All others are encouraged to sign up March 2-22. Registration is online at https://smartstepfamilieswpafb.eventbrite.com.

Deal’s sessions range from “Becoming Stepfamily Smart” and “How to Cook a Stepfamily” to “Marriage – Priority One”, “Attachment, Loss & Loyalty” and “Pillars of Stepparent Success.”

“We want families to have the tools and resources, especially with some being military and not always being in this area, by having Ron Deal here to give them other resources they can use in the future,” said Cheri Champagne, Catholic Parish coordinator. “It will be very beneficial to our families.”

The base Chapel staff decided to sponsor the conference “because we realize blended families are becoming more common in our society,” said Dj Shorter, Protestant parish coordinator. “The divorce rate is high, so we want to address that in the best way possible and bring in a nationally and internationally renowned expert.

“Ron Deal can speak to this issue and help stepfamilies be successful by giving advice on how to navigate being a blended family, children’s issues and parental concerns,” Shorter said. “He travels the country and the world speaking on these issues.”

The Chapel is providing free childcare and meals during the conference.

“We want to make sure nobody misses out because they couldn’t get a sitter, and we’re providing meals (any dietary concerns can be addressed during the registration process) because we know parents want to make sure their kids are fed,” Shorter said. “They can relax, know that their kids are being taken care of, listen and learn from Ron and enjoy the conference.”

She knows what it is like to come from a blended family and said the conference’s goals are to create the kind of blended stepfamily she comes from.

“I want people to walk away with a healthy understanding of what a blended family is and how it can be successful. I come from a blended family – my parents divorced when I was seven,” she said. “Both of my parents were active duty, and I know what it is like being a child in that situation, being sent back and forth and living in different countries from a parent. I watched my parents be very successful in having a blended family. I have brothers and sisters and step-parents on both sides.”

Good communication and working together were her experience, and Shorter said she knows it can be done.

“It’s really exciting to know that other families will be able to benefit in the same way,” she said. “It’s so important for the kids – for them to be able to see their parents get along and attend events together. At the end of the day, those kids are going to become adults and we’re teaching them by our actions what marriage looks like, what love looks like, what adulthood looks like, what communication looks like. It starts with the way we communicate with them and what we show them.”

Volunteers are welcome to help facilitate the event by visiting volunteersignup.org/XCTH4 to sign up. Anyone who wishes to sponsor a family may email djuna.shorter.1.ctr@us.af.mil.

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