Are you watching the Olympics this week? What’s your favorite sport? I love the gymnastics. The athletes make it look so easy to throw themselves across the floor in beautiful tumbling techniques and hoist their bodies in ways that seem impossible.
Robert Deutsch – USA Today
As I listened to some of the gynmasts’ stories, I couldn’t help but compare them to the challenges of stepparenting and the champion role we play every day. Here are a few parallels I see:
1. It’s emotional. Often.
I’ve seen a lot of tears since the Olympics started. Some are tears of joy – many are tears of defeat. But as one coach said, “Without the passion and the emotion, you wouldn’t have an Olympian.”
The same is true of stepparenting. If we didn’t care deeply about our stepchildren, we wouldn’t feel the intense anger, sadness, and anxiety surrounding their choices and their reactions toward us. But our emotions speak loudly of the significant role we play in their lives. We’re champions because we take on the role of parenting someone else’s child, and endure the emotions that follow.
2. Investing time and energy doesn’t always lead to the success you desire.
Gymnast Jordyn Wieber invested years of practice and agonizing work toward an anticipated gold medal in the all-around at the 2012 Olympics. But that dream was shattered when she failed to qualify for the final event. Beat out by two of her teammates, she disintegrated into tears following the final scores.
Our view of success as a stepparent doesn’t always follow the time and energy we invest toward it. But that doesn’t mean we’ve failed. Variables beyond our control can keep our stepchildren from developing a relationship with us. Loyalty conflict toward a biological parent often plays a huge role in keeping a stepchild in a guarded position. But God sees our heart and measures our success as a champion by the effort we make, regardless of the final result. “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)
3. It requires special techniques to cope with the stress involved.
After qualifying for the all-around finals, gymnast Gabby Douglas told the commentator interviewing her that she meditates on Scripture to help calm her nerves and deal with the task at hand. The stress surrounding Olympic athletes is unbearable at times, but Gabby has found a successful way to cope.
Stepparenting also involves stress that seems unbearable at times. The relentless demands on our time, society’s pressure of what role we are to play, the emotional tug-of-war with the biological parent, and the unending mind games stepchildren often play with us, can lead to discouragement without hope. But when we seek faith-filled solutions such as prayer, Scripture reading, meditation, and fellowship with other healthy stepparents, we find the energy to cope and succeed as champions.
4. Good coaching is mandatory.
Many Olympic athletes speak of changing coaches when they begin training for an Olympic event. Success will not be attained with mediocre methods or inexperienced coaching.
Stepparenting challenges also require coaching/counseling during difficult seasons. Coaching needs to be attained from an experienced professional who understands stepfamily dynamics. Traditional family methods with stepfamilies doesn’t lead to success. If you’re stuck in your stepfamily difficulty, check out my coaching page to find hope. Champions turn to good coaching when they need help.
5. Champions don’t quit when they fail.
If you follow the stories of Olympic athletes, many of them compete month after month for years before attaining the success they’re striving for. It would be easy to quit, but quitters don’t succeed.
When you fall down as a stepparent, you must get back up. If you haven’t read my most recent blog post, it speaks to that: The Myth of the Perfect Stepparent. We become champions in our stepparenting role when we keep trying, even though we want to quit. I know it’s hard. I’ve been there.
I applaud your efforts as a stepparenting champion. I wish I could visit with you over a cup of coffee about your biggest struggle. But remember: God sees every effort, even if the results aren’t what you’re hoping for.
I love the Olympic Creed and think it can be applied to stepparenting as well:
The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, the important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
Do you agree? I would love to hear your comments.
Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Creates Bitter Quitters in Blended Families
Learning to Accept the Things You Cannot Change
Is It a Privilege to be a Stepparent?