As I looked at the bookshelf bursting with parenting and step parenting books, my mind went a different direction. How often do I turn to a book, instead of seeking the Source with the best answer? One of my favorite Scriptures reads, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (I Corinthians 1:25). Read more
I love introducing new resources for stepmoms because as you know, if you’ve been a stepmom long, the journey isn’t easy. I’m participating in a blog tour this week and can’t wait to tell you about a new book, Recipe for Joy: A Stepmom’s Story of Finding Faith, Following Love, and Feeding a Family by Robin Davis.
Davis has been a food writer for almost 20 years and promised herself there were three things she would never do: move back to Ohio, get married, and join an organized religion. The book cites a compelling story of how her life took a turn she would have never predicted.
In a transparent, authentic voice, Davis relates a journey that begins as one seeking fulfillment through an interesting food and writing career–while running from God, but ends as one finding meaning in life through a relationship with God and two roles she would have never anticipated: a wife and stepmother who moves back to Ohio!
It’s a beautifully written story, in an easy-to-read fashion, that offers hope and inspiration for blending families. I especially related to her quest to seek perfection as a stepmother and frustration in her ability to do so. Here are a few quotes from the book I couldn’t resist sharing:
“I knew, just knew, that if I tried harder, worked harder, and loved harder, I would be a perfect straight-A mom. What that search for perfection actually gave me was an A+ bout of anxiety that turned into something more serious.”
Advice from her husband, Ken: “They don’t expect you to be perfect. They love you just the way you are.”
“Prayers. Daily prayers. …became a ray of light. I don’t mean that my prayers were answered. … But my prayers changed, and my attitude changed.”
“You need to live in the moment, not rehearse the future,” Julie [her counselor] told me. “When you try to live in the future, you’re destined for disappointment. Life will never be exactly the way you imagine it.”
Words of wisdom for anyone doing life in a blended family:
We don’t have to strive for perfection in our stepparenting role to find success.
We can learn to live in the present, enjoying the blessings of today instead of striving for something better in the future.
We can find peace and light for our journey through our daily prayers.
A Must-read book for blended families with words of encouragement and hope offered in a refreshing format. In addition, each chapter closes with a family-tested recipe to try.
I’ll never forget the day my stepson shot back at me, “You’re not my mom, Gayla. My mom would support my decision.”
I disagreed on an important decision he was making and voiced my opinion. I chose not to respond to his hurtful words and for a few days following, I didn’t feel love toward my stepson.
Does that make me a bad person? No. I’m human. I needed some time to consider what he said and ask God to help me love him, despite my hurt.
I knew there was more behind my stepson’s words than his disagreement. What he was saying to me was, “I miss my mom. I wish she were here so I could have this conversation with her.” But she wasn’t. She had passed away just a short time earlier after a fierce battle with colon cancer. He was reacting toward me in anger to his loss.
It’s not always easy to live with the behavior of our stepchildren and feel love toward them. Here are a few things to consider on those days:
1. Recognize their loss. Stepfamilies are born of loss and your stepchild might be dealing with layers of loss. As they go through life transitions such as adolescence, graduating from high school, etc. their loss is resurrected from years’ past and felt again. Try to be empathetic toward the feelings that are impacting their behavior.
2. Be the adult. Yes, it’s easy to stoop to the level of one attacking you, but someone needs to act like an adult. I’m not saying it’s easy – on more than one occasion I had to withdraw from a conversation to keep from saying something I shouldn’t. But if we say hurtful words back, it compounds the ill effects.
3. Take a time out when you need one. No one expects you to withstand painful happenings without taking time to recharge yourself. Determine what works for you to refresh yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Maybe it’s coffee with a girlfriend, a long afternoon walk, or a week-end away with your spouse.
4. Let the biological parent be in the charge. When you’re struggling with less-than-loving feelings toward your stepchild, step back and let the biological parent handle everyday situations. Our emotions get in the way of healthy reactions when we’re hurt, making it more difficult to address misbehavior or parenting decisions.
5. Pray for resolve. Allow God to soften your heart and pray the same for your stepchild. Look past the hurt toward a long-term relationship that’s willing to make sacrifices. It’s not unusual to have days you don’t feel love toward your stepchild. But if you’re in it for the long run, you want to work through those days and seek a long-term loving relationship.
Do you have other thoughts to offer? I would love to hear them.
Picture by Stuart Miles
I’m including a devotional today I wrote recently for stepparents. I hope you find it helpful.
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
With tears in her eyes, the new stepmom described her recent trial. As she entered her home after a stressful day at work, her teenage stepson welcomed her with a disrespectful remark. She reacted in fury, saying words she wished she could take back before slamming the door as she exited the room. The fragile relationship spiraled further downward.
None of us like to admit that we fail from time to time. But, as imperfect beings in a sinful world, we can expect we will fail. What matters most is how we react when it happens. If we ask for forgiveness and seek a new direction, relationships can be mended. If we choose to learn from our failures and move forward, we gain strength and wisdom on the journey.
There are multiple accounts of human failure in the Bible, but the Apostle Paul’s description of failure resonates with me: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18)
I have failed miserably as a stepparent at times. I have reacted with impatience, anger, and selfishness. I have allowed my needs to come before my stepchildren’s needs. But I refused to give up on my stepparenting journey when I made mistakes. I have chosen to move past my failures, asking for forgiveness from God and from my stepchildren, while seeking to change my ways with God’s strength and guidance.
Dear Father, give us the courage to keep trying when we know we’ve failed. Give us wisdom and perseverance to continue the course you have set before us.
Picture by David Castillo Dominici
The early morning text surprised me. I don’t hear from my young adult stepson a lot but sensed he needed to talk based on what I read. I picked up the phone and engaged in a lengthy conversation with him regarding his year-long relationship with his girlfriend.
It was a great time to impart words of encouragement and support for his recent decision to take a step back from the relationship. I heard his feelings of discontent and sound judgment about whether they could make it long term. I heard words of wisdom that I knew were partly due to his upbringing in our home.
I will forever be an imperfect stepparent. I could spend days relaying countless ways that I messed up with my stepchildren. My stepson, Payton, and I had a strained relationship much of the time during his adolescent years. I didn’t know how to raise a son and didn’t spend enough time “studying” Payton so I could parent him better. But God used my imperfect efforts and continues to redeem a less-than-perfect relationship.
If you’re struggling with a stepchild relationship that feels it’s on a downward spiral, don’t give up. God redeems relationships every day. We don’t have to have all the answers. But we do need to do our part in apologizing when we’re wrong and seeking to improve our stepparenting ways to foster a healthy relationship.
The stepparenting journey often includes one step forward and two steps backward, particularly in the early years. But don’t underestimate your value with your stepchildren. Stepparents who choose to stay the course, through the good times and bad, will make a difference in the lives of their stepchildren.
Do you agree? How is God using you as an imperfect stepparent?
Pic by graur codrin
The facebook status of my friend was heart-breaking:”After 25 years of working for the same company, my wonderful hard working amazing husband was told he does not have a job. Our world has turned upside down…” A hard situation to face at the holiday season.
1) Don’t dwell on the negative. Try to find something positive about your challenging reality. The holiday season when we walked through my stepson’s custody battle was one of the hardest for me. It seemed as if I got out of bed every day with a dark cloud over my head. But I tried to focus on the blessing of the relationship with my husband and his willingness to walk a difficult road together that might not include a happy ending.
2) Trust God’s plan for your family even if you don’t understand it. I love the words of Charles Spurgeon: “When you can’t trace God’s hand, trust His heart.” God wants what’s best for you and your family. However, life is often understood backward; circumstances don’t make sense with our finite eyes. But we find peace when we trust God’s plan, even if we don’t understand it.
3) Do your part to overcome the pain. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim, wallowing in self-pity. If you’re struggling with a stepfamily challenge that seems to have no end, seek support. Talk with other stepmoms (healthy-minded ones). Find a counselor educated in stepfamily dynamics. Use Scripture and prayer to find answers. But don’t stay stuck in your pain without reaching out.
4) Consider the joy of perseverance. When I complete a long run as I train for running events, I find joy in the perseverance of completing a 10 or 12 mile run. I know I’ve pushed myself to the limit and I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. The same holds true with stepfamilies. We will be pushed to the limit, but the joy comes in refusing to quit. I’ve written about it more here: “Stepparenting Feels Like I’m Running a Marathon.”
5) Read our holiday e-book for encouragement. Stepmom Heather Hetchler and I wrote our e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, to offer hope and encouragement to stepparents. We know how difficult the holiday season can be – we’ve walked the road in our own stepfamilies. I hope you’ll consider purchasing and reading the e-book as a gift to yourself.
I don’t know what pain you’re facing in your stepfamily but I pray you don’t allow it to overshadow the joy of the holiday. I want to offer the privilege of praying for you if you share your concerns with me. I’d love to hear from you. “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
I love Lysa TerKeurst’s quote from Unglued: “We can’t always fix our circumstances, but we can always fix our minds on God.”
Are you facing stepfamily pain? Will you commit to a positive perspective and intentional effort to keep it from overshadowing your holiday joy?
Interesting linksHere are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)
- Accepting Your Mate’s Differences
- Coaching for Stepfamilies and Blended Families
- Contact Gayla
- Creating an Enjoyable Stepfamily Holiday
- DeStress for a New You
- Don’t Neglect Family Traditions – Particularly in Blended Families
- Encouragement for Stepfathers
- Hire Gayla
- Learning to Embrace Change
- Living Life with Balance
- Reach Beyond an Ordinary Marriage
- Remarriage with Children
- Sisterhood of Stepmoms
- Speaking & Events
- StepParenting Books
- Stepparenting Resources
- Stepping Out on the Stepmother Journey
- The Privilege of Being a Mother
- When Heartache Strikes
- Birth order effects
- Frontpage Article
- loyalty conflict
- rewards of stepparenting
- Scripture for Stepfamily Life
- self control
- stepfamily holiday tips
- stepfamily marriage
- stepfamily relationships
- Stepfamily Vacations
- stepmom help
- stepmom support
- stepmother role
- stepparenting choices
- stepparenting heartache
- stepparenting resource
- successful stepparenting
- take care of yourself