Below are some of the recent search terms listed by stepparents. Do any of these feelings resonate with you?
– stepparent feels like an outsider
– want stepkids to go away
– why is it so difficult to accept my stepson
– how do you love unloveable stepchildren
– sour feelings toward stepchild
– how do you cope being a childless stepmom
– not easy being a stepmother
– wish stepchildren didn’t exist
Tough statements. Do you relate to any of them? It’s okay to admit your feelings–stepparenting isn’t easy! And for many stepparents, the summer months are especially difficult.
Stepfamily vacations, extended visits with stepchildren in our home, unavoidable dialogue with an ex-spouse or extended family members, or simply experiencing the “unexpected” can contribute to additional stress during the summer.
My husband and I spent four hours in the Emergency Room last night, anxiously awaiting a diagnosis we finally received at 1:30 am: two broken ribs. He collided with a man twice his size in an innocent game of Ultimate Frisbee and his rib cage took the banging. Staring at blank walls with no regard for wasted time wasn’t how I intended to spend my evening. But the unexpected happens.
When summer days drag on, I know I have a choice. I can focus on living one day at a time, handling the difficult moments as they come and cherishing the pleasant ones that surprise me, or I can agonize over what is yet to come, projecting long and hard days until summer ends.
In her devotional book, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes words of encouragement as if penned from the Lord Jesus speaking to us. I especially enjoyed these empowering words from a recent devotion:
“You gain confidence through knowing that I am with you–that you face nothing alone. Anxiety stems from asking the wrong question: ‘If such and such happens, can I handle it?’ The true question is not whether you can cope with whatever happens, but whether you and I together can handle anything that occurs. It is this you-and-I-together factor that gives you confidence to face the day cheerfully.”
There are not easy, tidy answers to long summer days, unexpected happenings, or difficult stepchildren encounters. But we can face each day with positive anticipation when we allow the Lord to walk beside us. Our days may still be long and our challenges appear overwhelming, but we can walk confidently through our days, knowing we are not alone.
How is your summer going? What tips can you offer other stepparents through tough summer months?