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Celebrating Mother’s Day as a Stepmom

It’s the hardest holiday of the year for stepmoms – Mother’s Day. Have you made plans for it yet?

I wrote an article last year on how to celebrate as a stepmom. It was recently published again and can be read in Western New York Family Magazine.

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What’s a stepmom to do on Mother’s Day? Do we insist that honor be bestowed upon us? Do we create expectations of what our stepchildren should do for us? Do we allow the biological mom to get all the attention for the day?

Mother’s Day can be a hard day for stepmoms because it reminds us of the time and energy we invest in our stepchildren that might include little reward. And if our stepchildren do try to show their appreciation, it can be an awkward and insincere effort, usually prodded by their father.

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Coping with Brokenness in Your Stepfamily

I sensed her restlessness to get off the phone. The conversation had been like most these days – shallow and brief. I understood why, but it didn’t make it any easier.

My mom’s dementia dominates her life. No longer able to find the words she needs, conversation is strained. Gone are the days of loving exchange, encouraging words, and engaging laughter. I feel as if I’m conversing with someone I don’t know.

The relationship with my mother feels broken. I can’t change that. It reminds me of the early years as a stepparent when my stepfamily relationships seemed broken and I felt helpless as to what to do.

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The Privilege Of a Stepparent

“Please pray for our marriage. I’m afraid my husband is about to walk away.” My heart sank as I listened to the voice mail. The woman and her husband had been in our stepfamily class and I knew there were a lot of struggles. But I didn’t expect her spouse to quit.

The challenges of stepfamily dynamics cripple step couples who don’t have the tools they need to succeed in their relationships. The statistics of divorce are staggering for remarriage when children are part of the package. But divorce doesn’t have to be the answer.

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Yes, it’s hard. It’s overwhelming. And it’s not unusual to feel like your stepfamily relationships will never be where you’d hoped. But if you quit, you’ll never experience the rewards that accompany the later years.

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Stepparent Mantra: Don’t Take Things Personally

Baffled by my teenage son’s behavior, I stood speechless as he slammed the door in my face. Usually a mild-mannered, easy-going kid, his outburst of anger surprised me. Had I done something to offend him? I quickly rehearsed our conversation in my head but couldn’t determine the root of his anger.

I’ve learned a few things in the midst of raising five teenagers. Sometimes they have bad days — just like we do. Their behavior likely has nothing to do with us!

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How often do we take things personally when our stepchild looks at us crossways or snarls at our innocent question about homework? I remember doing it in my younger years as a stepmom, particularly with my adolescent stepchildren. I didn’t recognize the influence of raging hormones and teenage insecurities that contributed to out-of-control behavior.

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Dare to Love in Your Stepfamily

Words from the voice on the radio played over in my head, piercing my heart. “We must dare to love those who hurt us.” The hurt from my gaping wound lay open. A friend I thought I could trust had let me down. I didn’t want to consider that I should dare to love her again.

Dare to Love in Your Stepfamily

I recognized the feeling from another time. Hurt by words of one of my stepchildren, I found it easier to guard my heart than make myself vulnerable to love again. I learned that a heart with walls around it, however, never experiences joy or peace.

With the Lord’s help, I reached out to my friend and offered forgiveness. Recognizing God’s grace of my own sin softened my heart toward my friend.

God’s power overcomes our weaknesses. We can dare to love again.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

 

 

 

 

How to Cope as an Outsider in Your Stepfamily

Today I’m including a devotion I wrote recently that will be included in a new stepmom devotional book Laura Petherbridge, Heather Hetchler and myself are working on. Enjoy!

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“…We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

“I feel invisible in my own home.” I could see the pain in my friend’s eyes. “My husband and stepchildren know how to do life without me and I often feel excluded. I don’t know how to break into the inner circle that surrounds them.”

Nodding in agreement, I reflected on my own feelings as an outsider in our early years. I remember my heart aching when my family told jokes I didn’t understand, reminisced about past experiences I wasn’t part of, or left me out of their activity.

Feeling Like an Outsider in my Stepfamily

Finally, I decided I would accept that some days I had to cope with the outsider role. I couldn’t force my stepchildren to let me into their insider circle. But I could take care of myself when the familiar feeling of loneliness set in. On those days, I would call a friend to go to coffee, catch up on my Bible study, or hit the gym for a workout with my buddies. By engaging in activities outside the home, places where I had my own identity, I better coped with the loneliness I felt at home.

I’m thankful to call myself an insider in God’s family. I’m unconditionally loved and accepted into God’s kingdom. I’m also an insider as part of a couple relationship with my husband, my family of origin, my biological kids, and my profession as a writer. If I recognize my insider status in other areas, I cope better when I’m left out of the circle at home.

Thought of the day: I can’t force my stepchildren to let me into their inner circle. But I can be content in the role I play, finding gratitude in other places of acceptance.

Dear Lord, thank You for accepting me into Your kingdom as Your child. Help me focus on You when I feel displaced in my home.