What? Is he crazy? My thoughts took over and I couldn’t respond for fear of what might come out of my mouth. Was he listening to my heart-felt anguish?
Parenting stepchildren can feel more like a burden than a privilege at times. We have the responsibility of a parent with few parental rights. Fold the laundry. Cook dinner. Run the carpool. Yet, despite our efforts toward mundane parenting tasks, we get little regard or appreciation for our help.
I read a story recently in The Smart Stepmom, by Ron Deal and Laura Petherbridge, that encouraged me to recognize the privilege we have as stepparents. I pray it does the same for you:
“Lynn and her husband combined six children – ages three, four, five, six, eight, and ten – who lived with them full time because her ex-husband was an alcoholic and his ex-wife abandoned her children She faced typical challenges when her stepchildren minimized her authority (You’re not our mom!”) and remained loyal to a biological mother they didn’t know.
When her stepchildren reached adolescence, their mother reappeared and instantly turned them further against Lynn. Despite the fact that the biological mom had been absent for many years, she still had the power to tear apart everything Lynn had built with her stepkids. Disrespect and conflict became a daily occurrenc in Lynn’s home, and her husband didn’t handle his children well. Their marriage was in turmoil to the point that Lynn wanted a divorce. But she didn’t file.
The dream of growing old together kept her from leaving and eventually produced fruit she never imagined.
When her second-oldest stepson was about to enter the Iraq War, he used his allotted two hours of phone time not to call his biological mother or father, but his stepmother, Lynn. He apologized to her for his prior behavior and thanked her for offering discipline and guidance throughout his life. He especially thanked her for raising him to know the Lord. ‘After that call,’ she says, I knew that every minute of being a stepmom was worth it.'”
When we’re in the throes of stepparenting challenges, it’s hard to see the privilege we’ve been given. But if we focus on the opportunity of influence we’ve been given with our stepchildren, we get a glimpse of the difference we can make.
What influence have you had on your stepchildren? Will you share it with us?