Why I’m Thankful for an Imperfect Stepfamily

“I always look perfect. I never have a bad hair day.”

Really?? I wanted to ask the teen girl as I heard her talking to her friends. Did she believe that? Was that the standard she was seeking to meet?

That’s a hard way to live. For anyone. It results in heartache, disappointment, and frustration. Because it’s not possible!

God doesn’t call us to be perfect. He doesn’t expect that we will have perfect relationships. But He does use our imperfections and imperfections of those around us to teach us, if we let Him. Read more

Forgiveness and Your Stepfamily

As we head into the Easter week-end, I can’t help but think about forgiveness. I’m forever grateful for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that offers forgiveness of sin.


But sometimes forgiveness and how to apply forgiveness in our stepfamilies can be misunderstood.  At our stepmom retreat this past week-end, Laura Petherbridge spoke on forgiveness and gave some wonderful nuggets on what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.  These bullets are taken from her handout.

What forgiveness is:

  • A choice
  • An ongoing process
  • Admitting “I was wounded”
  • Getting healing, help and support
  • Giving the person over to God
  • Refusing to dredge up the past
  • Choosing not to seek revenge
  • Freedom from the pain

What forgiveness isn’t:

  • A feeling
  • A one-time event
  • Denying the event
  • Saying it wasn’t wrong
  • Trusting the person again
  • Excusing from the responsibility
  • Intentional punishment
  • Forgetting the offender

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. It must be done repeatedly, perhaps even several times a day.

Forgiveness means we let the offense go and give it to God. But if we’ve been badly wounded, it’s not likely we will forget it. I believe God gave us a memory for a purpose–to protect ourselves and not fall prey to a vulnerable situation again.

If we choose to forgive our ex-spouse because we know it’s the right thing to do, that doesn’t mean we automatically trust him. Trust must be earned with someone’s who’s repentant about what they’ve done.

Forgiveness allows us to be honest with our feelings. If we’ve been hurt by our stepchild, we don’t act as if nothing’s happened. We acknowledge our feelings and work through our wounds as part of the forgiveness process.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we excuse a person from their part of the interaction, but it does mean we choose to put it in the past and leave it in the past.

There’s a price to pay for the choices we make. The price of unforgiveness is a burden of resentment, a poison of bitterness, and strained relationships. The price of forgiveness is love, freedom, and peace.

Christ paid a huge price so we could experience forgiveness. His death on the cross is a powerful reminder of the sacrifice He offered us. But even Christ struggled with doing what the Father asked of him. Matthew 26:39 says, “He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Some days we’d rather say, “Not your will but mine.” My will includes justifying my hurt and wallowing in my wound. My will seeks to take care of myself instead of considering others’ needs. Unfortunately, my will also leads to a life of heartache and disappointment.

Our pastor’s words recently spoke to my heart, “Unforgiveness is demanding that other people be perfect, and that’s a standard You can’t meet!” If I fail to forgive my stepson for an imperfect action, I’m expecting he’ll never have to forgive me for a wrong. I make imperfect choices every day. Why, then, do I hold onto unforgiveness?

Forgiveness provides the key to unlock the tension in stepfamily relationships. We’re called to forgive, even when it’s not our fault. It’s not easy, but when we choose to be obedient to the call,we experience peace and joy in our relationships.

If you’re struggling with forgiveness, I encourage you to purchase Laura’s DVD on forgiveness. It can be found at her bookstore here.

What have you learned about forgiveness in your stepfamily? Can you share how you’ve seen your stepfamily changed through the act of forgiveness? I’d love to hear your comments.

Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on spiritual growth, divorce prevention, divorce recovery and stepfamilies. She is a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series and the co-author of The Smart Stepmom and  When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce. She has a new book to be released May 1st, 101 Tips for the  Smart Stepmom.   Laura’s website is www.The SmartStepmom.com.

Picture By africa









What Are You Thankful For in Your Stepfamily?

What Are You Thankful For?

It’s easy to take our everyday blessings for granted in America. As I listen to my daughter’s daily life in Mozambique, Africa I realize how blessed I am. I’m thankful I get to do my laundry in a washing machine instead of a bucket. I’m thankful for hot showers every day. And I’m especially thankful for a warm house on cold days.

But I’ve also learned to be thankful for hard lessons learned during tough stepfamily seasons. I don’t want to live those days over again and I’m glad they’re far removed, but here are a few things I’m grateful for:

I’m thankful for grasping the value of perseverance and what it means to be in it for the long haul as I developed relationships with my stepchildren.

I’m thankful for the chance to learn what patience looks like in everyday life.

I’m thankful for the choice of loving children who aren’t my own and knowing I have positively influenced them.

I’m thankful for second chances. For relationship do-overs.

I’m thankful for the beauty of forgiveness and how it changes relationships.

I’m thankful for gaining the insider status in my stepchildren’s lives after suffering through years as an outsider.

I’m thankful for ex-spouses and what I’ve learned about myself through broken relationships.

I’m thankful for supportive friends and family who wouldn’t let me quit even though I desperately wanted to at times.

I’m thankful for a husband who didn’t give up on me when I made bad choices as a stepparent.

I’m thankful for my stepchildren and what they’ve taught me.

I’m thankful for the Lord Jesus who has walked every step of my stepparenting journey with me.

What are you thankful for? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more holiday tips, follow my blog and  Heather Hetchler’s blog at CafeSmom  as we share tips from our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, every Mon, Wed and Friday. Our e-book is a great tool to help you and all stepparents find peace during the holidays and beyond. It’s packed with proven tools and tips, personal stories and a list of recipes and new holiday traditions you can create with your stepfamily.  Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace

Pic by nongpimmy



Managing Your Holiday Schedule – Define Your Date to Celebrate

Many blended families are beginning to make visitation schedules for the holidays and I hear co-parents grumbling about the stress of making it work. I love what Heather Hetchler shared in our e-book, “Thriving at the Holidays: A Stepparent’s Guide to Success,” about her Thanksgiving routine.

“In my family, we have all the kids every other year for Thanksgiving. On the years when my four children are with their father, we make a special Thanksgiving breakfast before they go. We make turkey shaped pancakes and decorate with a chocolate chip eyeball, turkey bacon feathers and maple syrup for dressing.

In addition, when they return home on Saturday, we have a Thanksgiving celebration ‘Peanuts’ style. We watch ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ while snacking on toast, popcorn, and jelly beans.”

Holidays don’t have to be on a certain date to be meaningful. If we get hung up on wanting things our way, including always celebrating on Thanksgiving day or Christmas day, we will end up with  a tension-filled holiday.

The important thing to remember is the celebration of being together with loved ones and offering thanks for our relationships and the blessings God freely offers us.

Here’s another suggestion from our e-book about creating a meaningful and peaceful holiday, even if the kids aren’t with you on the actual date:

“You can always tuck a small gift and/or note in your stepkids’ belongings when they head back to their other home. Mark it to be opened on the actual holiday. While they won’t be with you and their parent, they’ll have something from both of you to open that day.”

The holiday season has enough stress of its own without adding an inflexible attiutude surrounding the schedule. Commit to creating a peaceful holiday season this year – your kids will thank you for it.

Are you comfortable with defining your date to celebrate other than the actual holiday? If you have done this in the past, will you share your experience?

Related Posts:

Holiday Tip: Be Flexible and Agreeable with Others, Whenever Possible

Holiday Tip: Do the Right Thing

Take Care of the Small Stuff Before it Gets Big

Thankful – In Good Times and Bad

“I have a lesion on my kidney. The doctors are running more tests today. Please pray for me.”

“My friend’s 2-year-old daughter has just been diagonsed with a malignant brain tumor. Please pray for them.”

These are words I’ve heard this week from friends. Difficult circumstances. Uncertain times. Anxious moments.

How do we continue to be thankful during hard times? I must admit there have been times this past year that I haven’t felt thankful.

I wasn’t thankful when my husband lost his job. I wasn’t thankful when I learned we had to re-locate for a new job. (although I was thankful for the job!). And I have struggled to be thankful in a new town when three of our children now live four hours away.

But God tells us to be thankful in all things. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thess 5:16-18

Did you notice the Scripture says to pray continually before we can give thanks? I think that’s the key – stay in an attitude of prayer.

Here’s a few words from a recent devotional: “The Bible says, ‘Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.’ Only when you’ve spent time in God’s presence and drawn strength from him, will you be equal to the challenges you face on any given day.”

Only when we’ve allowed God to penetrate our heart and our mind can we be thankful when our circumstances don’t appear worthy of thanksgiving.

So, what are you thankful for today? I’m thankful for a new writing opportunity God gave me that resulted in my first e-book! The 2nd edition of the e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace will soon be available on Amazon and other e-retailers. 

I hope you’ll check it out and tell me what you think.

Are you feeling thankful today? Will you share with us what you’re thankful for? 

Related Posts:

Being Thankful for Stepchildren

Count Your Blessings