Last week I talked about the blended family and this week I wanted to touch on loving your step child well. In the messy course of Divorce, there is a victim that is totally undeserving of the pain and heartache it brings: Children.
I grew up in a blended family, my Mom and Dad divorced when I was in 5th grade. A couple of years later my Dad remarried a woman with 2 very small children. I lived with my Mom, but as a very young teenager I began to get into major trouble and became very rebellious. Because of my outward rebellion I was sent to live with my Dad and Step-mom.
My step-mother wanted nothing to do with me and so began several years of rejection and emotional abuse I vowed that if I ever had step children that I would never ever treat them the way my step father or step-mother had treated me.
Now I don’t tell you this to feel sorry for me at all…I tell you this because I wonder…would things had gone differently for me if just one of those step parents had said three little words “I love you” and shown me some compassion?
I definitely have had my opportunity to walk out and practice what I preach. Having blended our family together and being blessed with a step-son and step-daughter, I chose to open my arms and love them the way I would have wanted to be loved… and it wasn’t always easy.
Is being a parent easy? Being a step-parent isn’t either! But, there are some ways you can love your step-child well!
Try these things:
- Get to know them. No… I mean REALLY know them. Just like you know your own children. Their quirks, their joys, their weakness. Know them.
- Don’t try to take the place of the other missing parent. I never wanted to be my step-kids’ Mom. I wanted to be the very best STEP-Mom that they could have. They have a Mom…don’t try to be it. Unless of course they want you to.
- Protect them, even from your own family. As you are building bonds with your step children, make sure that the rest of your extended family is honoring them just as much as you are. Sometimes it’s hard for extended family to accept new children into the family.
- It is common for kids to lash out from heartache. Don’t take it personal. You know your very own children could just as easily say the same things in anger and you may not think much about it…but when your step-children say something in anger it’s easy to be too sensitive. Try not to take it personal; if you are taking it TOO personal try to look at some of your own issues…OUCH. Once my step daughter yelled at me about how much she hated me (because I had boundaries) and that I wasn’t her mother! My response? “Oh I know I’m not your mother, but God has put me as the adult in charge of you by being your step-mother and so I’ll be accountable to him…even if you hate me. And, by the way, you may hate me, but I love you.” That was the end of that comment and it was never said again.
- Don’t try to break traditions that they may have had in their first family. Honor them as much as possible and create new ones with your new family unit.
- If you were on a mission trip in another country, wouldn’t you love the homeless, fatherless/motherless, brokenhearted and hungry children? All you have to do is look right into the eyes and heart of your step-children…they are those.
It’s not easy. Step-relationships are complex things and they take a lot of work. We can always look to the beautiful example God sets for us. He has adopted us into his family. Let’s do the same for our step-kids!