“You’re the only person I know who understands this stuff. Thank you for talking to me.” A good friend called this week to bend my ear about a difficult stepfamily stituation. She really wasn’t looking for answers; she just needed someone to talk to who understood her frustration with the lack of respect she was receiving.
Parenting children in a stepfamily home is completely different than parenting in a traditional home. If we try to parent and mold our stepfamily as a nuclear family, it won’t work.
One of the biggest challenges is the stepparent relationship. Particularly if the stepchildren are older, they may not be interested in having a stepparent and show disrespect and disobedience to one.
In his book, The Smart Stepfamily, stepfamily authority Ron Deal gives a good illustration of how to teach our stepchildren to honor their stepparent. “A father might suggest to his children, “Honor your stepmother as you would a teacher or an older woman at church. She is not your mom, but she is due the same honor as your principal at school.”
“In addition,” Ron says, “you might teach your children that God expects children to show respect for all adults. ‘Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord’ (Leviticus 19:32). God expects people to have a basic respect for older adults. I believe you can teach your children to honor their stepparents just as they would any older adult.”
Even if a stepchild doesn’t like his stepparent, he can respect him/her. But a stepparent must also be willing to show respect to a stepchild. The stepparent is responsible for setting the standard for the relationship and behaving in a manner worthy of respect.
Stepfamily relationships are often slow to develop. But if we are respectful toward our stepchildren and teach them respect for their stepparent, the relationship has a better chance of a happy ending.
Are you modeling behavior worthy of respect as a stepparent?