My husband, Randy, turns 50 years old today! He has been a stepparent to my two girls for 17 years.
He will be the first to tell you he has done a lot of things wrong. But his stepdaughters love him dearly.
It hasn’t always been that way.
Jodi (left) was almost three when we married and Jamie (right) was five. Randy had a difficult time with Jamie from the beginning. She didn’t want another dad in her life and she made that clear to him.
He overheard a conversation between the two girls one night in the bathtub during our first year of marriage. “I hate him too, I can’t believe Mom married him,” Jamie told Jodi. There was little love, or even like, between Randy and the girls in the beginning.
During our second year of marriage, Randy left the house one evening and called from a nearby hotel. “I’m not coming home tonight. I’m not sure I’m coming home again. I can’t deal with the ongoing conflict between me and you and the kids.”
It was a tough season. Blending four children ages 3-10 and learning how to parent together was harder than we anticipated. But neither of us wanted to endure another divorce. Randy and I began counseling that year to work through the bumps.
During her teen-age years, Jamie challenged us on every turn. If Randy punished her in any way, she threatened to call Child Protective Services. She ran away more times than I can remember (but thankfully never went far). And after one particularly aggravating day with defiant behavior, Randy took Jamie’s cell phone and threw it to the ground. As it busted into several pieces, Jamie began yelling at us both. The night didn’t end well. And I wasn’t sure the sun would come up the next day.
But it did. And Randy didn’t give up on his stepparenting role with Jamie.
When she came into driving age, Randy wanted to teach her to drive. She tested every ounce of his patience. They would come in from a driving session hardly talking to one another–Jamie’s anger brewing over. But the next day, they were at it again.
During her high school years, Jamie participated in competitve cheerleading. Randy would jokingly say, “Do you call cheerleading a sport?” The ongoing drama with other cheerleaders, out-of-town competitions, and continuous suction cup to his wallet threw Randy into stress overdrive. His grumpiness overshadowed his joy at times. But he didn’t quit supporting Jamie and the things that made her tick.
Do you have to be a perfect stepparent to have a meaningful relationship with your stepchildren? NO!
Randy’s stepdaughters, Jodi (19) and Jamie (22), love their imperfect stepdad.
Why? How did that happen?
Randy never quit. He got up when he fell down. He sought help when he needed answers. He cried. He prayed. He struggled. He fought. He apologized. He forgave. He smiled with gritted teeth. But he never quit.
When he fell down, he got up. He prayed some more. He sought help again. He struggled harder. He cried again. He forgave some more. But… he got up when he fell down.
Is it a cycle? Yes. You take one step forward and two steps backward. You celebrate a season of growth, then start a season of despair. You gain the insider status one day and feel like an outcast the next.
Does that mean you failed?
You fail when you quit.
The easy road is the quitter’s road. The majority of stepparents take that road.
But if you signed up for the race, your stepchildren deserve a finish.
I know it’s not easy. I know you want to quit. But you’ve been given an opportunity to influence a young child’s life like no one else can. In an imperfect way.
Will you take the challenge? Will you commit to the journey? Will you get up when you fall down? I hope so.
Because my husband will tell you: there are rewards to stepparenting, even when you’re not perfect…but they’re at the end of the journey.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Are You Willing to go the Distance as a Stepparent?
Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Creates Bitter Quitters in Blended Families
As A Stepfamily, You Can Expect Challenges
You Don’t Have to be Super Stepmom