Finding the Beauty of God’s Grace in Your Stepfamily

Nathan, 2010

“Mom, I’m sorry my friend was talking like that in front of you,” my nine year old son, Nathan, said as I put him to bed last night. He was referring to some crude language a neighbor was using while playing at our house. My son knew the comments were offensive to me.

I appreciated my son’s sweet attitude toward my feelings. I was reminded of the blessing of his sensitive spirit because I haven’t always experienced that with my other children. Nathan is the only child my husband and I have together, and I believe God gave me a caring, affectionate, I’m-gonna-take-care-of-my-momma boy to make up for some of the hurt and agony I’ve experienced with my stepchildren.

When I married my husband, my stepson was five. Because I had two girls, I didn’t know much about raising a son but I dreamed of cheering him on at ballgames, hearing about his first girlfriend, and enjoying big hugs snuggled on the couch. Unfortunately, most of those dreams have not come true.

My stepson’s mother was an active part of his life as a young boy and she didn’t like me being involved. My authority was undermined and my behavior was criticized. It seemd as if I was on trial constantly regarding what I said or how I disciplined my stepchildren. If I made a wrong move, my husband would hear about it.

I didn’t know how to stop feeling like I was competing with my stepson’s mother in every arena. When I attended ballgames, all I heard was, “Way to go son. Stike him out son. Hit it over the fence son.” My insecurity in my stepmother role kept me from actively participating at ballgames or school events when his mom was there.

The loyalty my stepson showed toward his mother was obvious. I was kept at arm’s length because it was too complicated to show love toward his stepmother.The risk of hurting his mom’s feelings was too great.

I learned to live with little expectation in my relationship with my stepson. It wasn’t the way I wanted it, but it became a survival technique for me. As he grew older, the relationship showed signs of developing, but when his mom died unexpectedly when he was 15 years old, the loyalty issues returned, preventing him from moving forward in a relationship with me.

God has seen every struggle with my stepson. He knows my heart and acknowledges my hurt from years’ past. When I was expecting our youngest child, I wanted another girl. I had been through so much pain with my stepson that I couldn’t imagine starting over with another boy.

But God knew what I needed. He has used our sweet son, Nathan, to heal my hurts and bandage my wounds. Through His grace, He gave me a gift I can’t replace. Nathan is affectionate and loving toward me every day. He is not a perfect child but he shows me unconditional love and emotional attachment like no other child. I can only explain it through God’s grace.

I would not appreciate Nathan’s unconditional love for me without the pain of the past. But with God’s redeeming love, I can enjoy a relationship with my son that I could only dream of before.

Have you seen evidences of God’s grace in your stepfamily?

Related posts:

Creating a Stable Stepfamily: Offer Love and Grace Freely

Healthy Stepparenting: Don’t Keep Score

When Our Stepchildren are Hurting: Offer Grace


4 Responses to “Finding the Beauty of God’s Grace in Your Stepfamily”

  1. 1 sue October 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I am so glad God gave you Nathan. What a wonderful blessing he must be in your life.

  2. 2 Step Parenting with Grace October 8, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Thank you Sue. He is truly a blessing and I'm thankful for him every day.

  3. 3 Nichole October 10, 2010 at 1:08 am

    What a touching story. I am so sorry for the pain you experienced. Step-parenting is tough & even harder when the biological parent has insecurity issues. I am still new, but I am trying to remain strong and loving as I wait for my husband's ex to accept me. I have seen very little, but (some) change this past year and I remain hopeful. It is strange to me that so many women act this way when it comes to their spouse getting remarried. I would consider it a blessing that someone else is willing to love and care for my child when I am not around. I pray that when my ex marries it is with a woman that treats her well and loves her like I do. It's very sad about your stepsons mother passing. Hopefully, someday your love will reach his heart. I am happy that you have your little boy though. 🙂 Great post.

  4. 4 Step Parenting with Grace October 10, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Thank you Nicole. I know that my stepson is still hurting from the loss of his mom. I'm praying our relationship will continue to grow as he heals and realizes I'm not trying to take her place, but only be another maternal figure who loves and cares for him.It's wise for you to be patient as your husband's ex finds a place in her heart for you. Sometimes it takes longer than we want, but if you're seeing some changes from this past year, it sounds like you're on the right track. My ex-husband never re-married so I haven't experienced another parent loving my children, but I agree with your position – there's plenty of love to go around.

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