Parenting From Your Knees

I told my husband this past week that getting our children successfully to adulthood is requiring more effort and time than I envisioned. Several of our children are in the young adult age but show evidence of immaturity and poor choices more often than I want to admit.  

For instance, I received an e-mail this week stating my stepson was in jeopardy of being expelled from his college because of attendance problems at chapel. He attends a private Christian university that requires he attend an hour long chapel service each week. Sometime last semester, he decided he didn’t want to go anymore and quit attending.

As my husband spoke with him about it over dinner, my stepson admitted to his nonchalant attitude toward the chapel policy and his negligence in attending. With only a year left to graduate, he doesn’t want to be expelled. Thankfully, he committed to doing what the school requires for chapel make-ups and regular attendance in the future.

However, we can’t control whether he actually follows the school requirements or not. As a college student living in his own apartment, he makes his own decisions, good and bad. But we can pray daily that he makes wise choices and seeks the Lord diligently.

In her book, Prayer Changes Teens, Janet McHenry says, “No matter how much we love our kids and want to protect them, we cannot control them or their circumstances. But God is in control, and He can take care of our kids far better than we ever could. … Give control back to God and get back to what you enjoy most – loving your teen.” 

As a stepmom who struggles with control issues, that’s a good reminder for me. I like to think I can control my children’s behavior, but that’s grandiose thinking. The sooner I give up control and allow God to be in charge, the greater likelihood of a positive end result.

I’ll give you an update on chapel attendance at the end of the semester. But for now, I need to go talk to God.

What are you trying to control? Do you need to parent from your knees more often?

Related Posts:

Let Go and Let God

Making Resolutions that Count

Where to Find Hope on Your Stepfamily Journey

Coping with Stepfamily Drama – Part Two

The holidays seem to involve more drama than usual for stepfamilies. In my last post, I shared some of our family’s drama this Christmas and gave a few suggestions on how to cope with it. Today, I offer a few more ideas:

1. Stay out of the middle, when possible. If the drama occurring is between children, allow them to work it out. Our children need to learn how to manage conflict at home with other family members. If it becomes physically or emotionally hurtful, it’s time to get involved. If the drama is between your spouse and an ex, let him/her deal with it. If the drama is between you and your spouse or an ex-spouse, you must confront it.

2. Resolve to take the high road every time. Be the more mature party. Someone has to be the adult during tumultuous periods – it allows for inner peace when we know we’re doing the right thing.

3. Commit to pray for your family relationships and exercise patience as they develop. Stepfamily authorities say it takes seven years for a stepfamily to blend. We had more drama than I want to remember during the early years of our marriage but I’m thankful today that we persevered and have stable, loving relationships with one another (even though drama still shows up every now and then).

3. Ask for help when necessary. If conflict begins to occur more frequently without resolve, it could be time to seek professional help. Find a counselor that is familiar with stepfamily dynamics.  Or check out my coaching opportunities here.  Don’t allow unresolved conflict or ongoing drama to destroy your relationships.

Have you successfully dealt with drama this holiday season? Do you have other suggestions to offer?
Related Posts:

Coping with Stepfamily Drama, Part One

Offering Forgiveness

Some Days Are Harder Than Others as a Stepparent

Stepparenting Rewards

My stepson called me this week and asked for some “motherly advice.” He and his roommate were having trouble getting along and he wanted my view of the situation.

I was flattered that he asked for my opinion. But I was even more thankful to hear him ask for “motherly advice.” That’s as close as my stepson comes to referring to me as his mother.

Stepparents don’t get to experience rewards often, especially in the early years. So when we do receive a hard-earned reward for the job we’re doing, we can pat ourselves on the back, realizing our efforts are not in vain.

I have seen more rewards as a stepmother since my stepchildren reached young adulthood. The years I spent working on a healthy relationship and showing how much I cared for them are now rewarded with love and respect for me.

There were many times I wanted to give up and thought it was too hard to keep pursuing a relationship with them, especially when it was obvious they didn’t care about having another mom in their lives. But I now see the rewards I would have missed if I’d quit.

Perseverance is worth every effort we make. When we’re struggling in our stepparenting role, quitting is never the answer.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Are you experiencing stepparenting rewards?

When our Thinking Becomes Distorted

I was reading a book recently with my youngest son titled Parts. It’s a cute story of a young boy who gets paranoid about his body falling apart because of some normal changes he begins to experience – loose teeth, peeling skin, hair falling out, etc.

It made me think about how often our thinking gets distorted or blown out of proportion because of minor occurrences. If our stepson looks at us wrong, we convince ourselves he doesn’t like us. If our stepdaughter rudely answers our question, we assume she is mad at us.

Our stepchildren have difficult days, just as we do. It’s easy for them to take out their feelings on the nearest target, which might be us. But it doesn’t mean we have to overreact and assume the worst of the situation. If we diffuse their feelings with sympathetic responses, the mood usually passes and our relationship with them has the opportunity to grow.

One of our older children moved out recently and my husband found an index card in his room that we had given him as a reminder for his relationships. The verse on the card is especially applicable for us, as stepparents, to remember and apply:

“Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless — that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.” I Peter 3:8 (The Message)

How can you be a blessing to someone in your stepfamily today?

Steering Our Stepchildren Toward Christ

My heart aches today from a unforeseen loss that occurred over the week-end.

A star athlete in high school, our friend was well respected by his peers. A great-looking kid who comfortably related to others, it appeared he had a great future ahead.

A previous classmate with my stepson and friend to my daughter, this young man had been at our house several times, always courteous to me and my husband. My daughter had just mentioned seeing him on campus last week at the college she is attending, a recent transfer from another school, it seemed.

But Friday night my daughter learned of a tragic choice he made. For reasons we will never understand, he chose to take his life. An overdose of pills ended it for him. I can only imagine how his dear mom endured Mother’s Day yesterday.

Thankfully, we believe this young man was a believer and has a better destination after life, but it grieves my heart to consider his loss. Why did he believe suicide was the answer?

Those we love make choices we don’t understand and can’t control.

But we can control our own choices. We can make intentional choices about steering our children toward Christ. We can continually point them to God’s Word for direction. We can pray for their heart to be open toward spiritual matters and look for opportunities to show Christ to them through our actions.

I believe our deepest needs can only be met through a relationship with Jesus Christ. I may be rejected or criticized for my beliefs, but I will never quit trying to influence my stepchildren toward a daily walk with Christ.

Stepparenting Choices

We make choices everyday. Some choices don’t matter that much in the big picture of life but others have huge impact on us and those around us.

My daughter was challenged recently with a choice regarding a relationship in a discipleship group she leads. She learned one of the girls was saying critical things about her to others in the group. As a college student, my daughter works hard at leading other students in her group and was hurt and discouraged to learn of the criticism. She knew she had to address the situation and had a choice to make. Could she put aside her hurt feelings and choose to forgive the student for unkind words or would she stay angry and bitter? It took several days for her to work through her feelings and offer her friend forgiveness, but thankfully, she did.

We also have choices to make with our stepchildren everyday. Maybe you had a rough week-end that included harsh words and difficult attitudes. Or perhaps your stepchild is using the silent treatment on you. You have a choice to make as to whether you will take the high road toward forgiveness or take the destructive road toward self-pity and resentment. It is not an easy road to take and sometimes we make the wrong choice. But wallowing in self-pity and anger only makes us miserable. It doesn’t solve the problem or allow us to move forward in our relationships.

What choice will you make today? If you’ve recently been offended and you’re experiencing hurt or anger with your stepchild, I encourage you to offer forgiveness. It’s not an easy step. But it’s the right step toward peace and harmony in your relationship. You won’t regret it.