I’ve been nursing a bee sting on the bottom of my foot for weeks. I ignored it at first, thinking it would heal on its own. But it hasn’t. Now, I’m annoyed at the nagging pain I feel when I’m on my feet too long.
My sister suggested I puncture the wound and look for a stinger that needs to be removed. I’m not a good patient but I carefully inserted a sterile needle close to the wound and removed a small skin-like material I found. Optimistic that would help, I thought – let the healing begin. But the nagging pain continues. I’m now soaking it daily with espson salt and keeping it covered with antibiotic ointment and a bandaid. If that doesn’t help, I’ll have to consider my last resort - a trip to the doctor.
I would prefer wounds heal on their own. But that doesn’t always happen. Whether it’s a physical wound or an emotional wound, the steps we take determine how quickly our wounds heal.
Stepparenting wounds come in all shapes and sizes. They occur when someone hurts our feelings or our expectations aren’t met. In the beginning stages of blending a family, wounds occur frequently.
Some wounds resolve on their own, but most require special attention. Nagging wounds occur repeatedly, leaving us vulnerable to anger and resentment.
So how do we resolve our stepparenting wounds? How do we prevent our wounds from negatively impacting our relationships? Here are a few steps I suggest:
1. Forgive your stepchild.
You may be justified in your anger, but it’s hard to find peace when you refuse to forgive an offense. The relationship with your stepchild suffers when you hang onto your hurt. Take the high road. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)
2. Don’t allow your feelings to fester.
I allowed my bee sting to fester for weeks before I did anything about it. As a result, the wound will take longer to heal.
Emotional wounds fester when we let our feelings take over our mind. Instead of addressing the issue, we compound it by complaining to others, acting out in anger, or stuffing our feelings deep inside.
Festering wounds erupt. Deal with the offense so healing can begin.
3. Commit to pray daily for your stepchild and strive to think only positive thoughts about him/her.
I know that’s not easy. When my stepson made piercing remarks about me in a custody hearing years ago, I didn’t want to consider praying for him or try to think positively about him. But when I made a conscious choice to dwell on his positive aspects and pray for his well-being, my wounds began to heal.
4. Give yourself grace for your part of the offense.
Each of us plays a role in conflict. Nonverbal communication speaks loudly. Stepchildren sense disapproving thoughts and critical looks. Words fly out of our mouth we can’t stop, contributing to conflict.
But if we choose to stay defeated in our guilt, we won’t find victory with our wounds. Recognize your part and ask for forgiveness. Then give yourself grace and move on - imperfect people make mistakes.
5. Seek help when necessary.
It’s not unusual to get stuck nursing a stepparenting wound without healing. Some wounds go deep and wide, requiring professional help. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help, it’s a sign of courage.
If you’re considering stepparenting coaching, my fees for the summer are reduced. I would love to help you heal your stepparenting wounds and restore your relationships.
What other tips can you offer to help with stepparenting wounds? I would love to hear from you.
Coping with Loss in a Stepfamily
When Stepparenting Feels Too Hard: Four Ways to Overcome Discouragement