Stepfamily Trap: The Danger of Denying Your Feelings

“I thought I would naturally love my stepchildren as my own but the feelings are not there,” my friend, stepmother of two said. “I tried to deny my feelings for a long time, but I’m finally accepting them for what they are.”

Denying our feelings puts off what should be faced. It’s okay if you don’t feel love toward your stepchildren all the time. You might develop more loving feelings as your relationship develops, but you might not.

If we’re really honest, we must admit that some stepchildren are easier to love than others. In her book, Stepmonster, Dr. Wednesday Martin paints a painful, but realistic, picture of how some stepchildren behave. “Our stepchildren do, in fact, frequently try to exclude us. They do things — consciously or unconsciously — that make us feel overlooked, left out, unappreciated. They send subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle signals that they wish we simply didn’t exist, that they’d like to erase us from the picture, or from the message on the answering machine.”

Dr. Martin goes on to tell a story “of a woman who was not invited to her stepdaughter’s wedding, after nearly two decades of marriage to the young woman’s father, ‘because it will be too difficult for Mom.’ Her husband told his daughter that they would attend together or not at all, but the stepmother never really recovered from her hurt and, not surprisingly, ceased making efforts with her stepdaughter for a long time.”

Hopefully, your stepchildren have not been that cruel to you. But, if you’ve been a stepparent long, I would guess you’ve been hurt more than once by your stepchild. That doesn’t make it okay to stoop to his/her level and react with similar behavior, but it is okay to acknowledge how those actions affect your feelings.

I learned early in our marriage that I would need God’s help to love my stepchildren unconditionally. It’s not easy and I don’t get it right all the time, but as I pray for God to soften my heart toward my stepchildren, I’m able to offer them my love and forgiveness. In our early years of marriage there were days I felt my stepchildren didn’t deserve another chance, but then I was reminded that I don’t deserve the love and grace God offers me either.

Feelings are not facts. They will change as your relationships develop. It’s okay to admit to feelings of hurt, anger, and disappointment in your stepparenting role. Just don’t get stuck there. Work through your feelings with a friend, a minister, or your spouse. Or seek professional counseling if you need help identifying your feelings and coping with them.

We can’t allow our feelings to control us. But we can seek to uncover their roots and deal with them appropriately.

What feelings are you burying, in hopes they will simply go away?

Holiday Tips for Stepfamilies – Take Care of the Small Stuff

“Mom, I’ve been hit from behind and my car has a good amount of damage.” My youngest daughter was in her first fender bender this last week. She called me in tears and asked me what to do. She wasn’t hurt but I could tell she was scared. I told her to pull over and call the police.

I asked if she wanted me to come help and she said yes. I knew she was capable of handling the situation by herself, but thought she could use some emotional support.

When we take the time to help our children and stepchildren through their trials, we build stronger relationships with them. Our actions speak love when we help them. It may not be convenient or easy for us, but it shows our children we care about them.

This past week, my stepson was stressed out about his work schedule and other things he needed to do to finish his school schedule. He had just completed another semester of college and needed to get his textbooks returned. I offered to help return his books if he would bring them to me. He thanked me and was genuinely appreciative of my help.

With the holidays in full swing, there are a variety of ways we can show our stepchildren we love them through the small stuff. Attend their Christmas programs, help them shop for their siblings and other family members (including their bio parent in the other home), eat lunch with them at school (unless they’re teenagers…), help them with their homework, or whatever else you can do that shows you care.

How will you show love to your stepchildren this week through the small stuff?

Related Posts:

Offering a Gift of Kindness

Take Care of the Small Stuff Before It Gets Big

Holiday Tip for Stepfamilies: Accept What You Cannot Change

  

 

Friday’s Fav Scripture – “Love is Patient”

“Love is pateint, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:4)

We live in a fast paced society that believes everything should happen quickly. We don’t like to wait for food to cook so we put everything in the microwave. We have instant contact with people 24/7 through text messaging. There’s no need to go to the library and look things up the old-fashioned way anymore because we can find whatever we want on our computer.  

But if we try to carry that thinking over to our relationships, it doesn’t work. Trust and respect take time to build, particularly in stepfamilies. If we want lasting, meaningful relationships we must be willing to put in the time and commitment required. There are no shortcuts.

I cherish this Scripture and need the reminder of what Christ-like love looks like: “Love is patient……it always perseveres.”

How are you doing in your stepfamily relationships? Are you seeing the results of patience and perseverance on your stepfamily journey?

Related Posts:

Offer Love and Grace Freely

Love is Sacrificial

Let Go and Let God

Offering a Gift of Kindness

The little things in life can make the most difference. My daughter helping me carry in groceries on a day I’m overwhelmed with chores. A stranger offering me thanks at church for playing the piano each week. My husband putting air in my tires when he notices the dashboard light.

Acts of kindness are simple reminders that show others we care about them. They may take a few moments of our day or an entire afternoon. But they speak volumes to the one on the receiving end.

My stepson is without a car for an indefinite period of time because of his recent car wreck. I knew he was concerned about getting back and forth to school and work from his apartment. So, I sent him a text message Monday morning offering to help with rides when I could.

He responded with an appreciative message back. It wasn’t a big deal on my part but it communicated to him that I care and want to help him during this stressful period.

I wish I could say I’m always willing to help and come armed with a considerate attitude. But I’m not. I’m selfish with my time and like to consider my needs first. But I realize the value of a Christ-like attitude in doing for others, especially my children.

Stepparenting takes time and sacrifice. The needs of our stepchildren while they are in our home (whether part-time or full-time) last only a season. But the rewards of a willing heart toward unselfish acts of kindness can be seen for many years as a meaningful relationship ensues.

We may not receive the appreciation we deserve for serving our stepchildren. But we will be blessed in knowing we have done our part in offering Christ-like love and kindness.

“Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…” (Colossians 3:12)

How will you show kindness today?

Related Posts:

Character that Counts

Love is Sacrificial

Reflecting Gentleness

Expressing Kindness to Your Family

Love is Sacrificial

We started off our week with a car problem. Ugh! My husband’s car had to be towed to the dealership first thing this morning. After coming in from church last night, he couldn’t get the motor to shut down when he turned the car off. He finally disconnected the part that runs to the fuel pump to stop the engine.

The technician from the dealership said he would give it a good check up and let us know the problem and what needed to be fixed.

While waiting on the diagnosis, I began thinking about areas in my life that needed a good check up. It’s easy to recognize that there’s more than one place that could use some “fixing” from God’s healing hand.

My most glaring need today centers around how I allow my personal agenda and selfishness to keep me from loving others and treating them as I should. I don’t always feel loving toward those around me and I allow my feelings to dictate my actions.

 It’s easy to be loving and kind toward my stepchildren when they’re being respectful and obedient. But it’s a lot harder to continue to love them when they’re rude and offensive. 

However, I’m frequently reminded of the commitment I made when I married my husband. I married him “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.” I committed to loving him and his children, even on days I didn’t feel like it.

So today I will ask for the Lord’s help to show sacrificial love to my stepchildren. It doesn’t mean I will like their behavior or agree with their choices, but I will seek to honor the Golden Rule with them: “Do for others what you would like them to do for you” (Matthew 7:12).

I will expect nothing in return but know that God sees my heart and my desire to honor Him.

Does your heart need a check up today? Are there areas that need God’s healing hand?  

 Related Posts:

When Love is Not Enough

Creating a Stable Stepfamily: Offer Love and Grace Freely

Healthy Stepparenting: Don’t Keep Score

Creating a Stable Stepfamily: Offer Love and Grace Freely

My youngest son just came back from his first overnight church camp. He told me story after story of the fun he had with his friends and the memories he made on the campground.

But then, with tears in his eyes, he told me of the many talks they had of what Jesus has done for us and the love and grace He offers us, undeserved.

As we come to the end of our posts on creating a stable stepfamily, I am reminded of the most important element of creating a stable stepfamily: offer love and grace freely to your stepchildren. Even when they don’t deserve it.

Stable relationships are formed as we show our stepchildren we love them on good days and bad, offering forgiveness to them, undeserved. It’s not easy to do and can only be accomplished through God’s strength, but will make a long-term difference in our relationships.

How can you show love and grace to your family this week-end?

Have a happy 4th of July and spend some quality time with your stepchildren!