I have a dear friend who had a gut feeling that her stepchild was being mistreated by his mother’s boyfriend. Her stepson had made several comments about happenings at his mom’s house that were concerning. So, she and her husband hired a private investigator to find out about the mom’s boyfriend.
The results were alarming. The PI uncovered several assault charges, a DUI charge, and other charges that had been filed within the previous six-month period on the boyfriend. It was enough evidence that my friend and her husband chose to seek custody of the 10-year-old boy. I think it was a wise choice.
The court hearing resulted in temporary custody for the dad and stepmom for four months while all parties participate in counseling and after that point, it will be determined where they boy should reside long-term. Although my friend has a new baby and custody of her stepson will disrupt her entire household, she has chosen the high road of doing what’s right for her stepson.
I applaud stepparents who selflessly choose to care for their stepchildren, even when it inconveniences their lives. As a stepparent, we might enter marriage with part-time custody of our stepchildren and prefer the arrangement remain that way. But stepfamily life tends to take twisted turns when we least expect them.
Stepmothers, in particular, have a natural bent toward nurturing that allows us to recognize when things aren’t quite right with our stepchildren. I believe it’s our responsibility to act on those gut feelings and get to the bottom of what we’re concerned about. Our stepchildren deserve to be raised in a stable, healthy home and if they are being mistreated or neglected in their custodial home, we must take action to change their environment.
When we marry our spouse and choose to take on the responsibilites of a stepparent, we say, “I do — for better or for worse.” There are many times on the stepparenting journey that the circumstances get worse before they get better.
Assuming custody of stepchildren who have previously lived in another home is never easy. But it’s not right to allow our stepchildren to remain in a home that we know is not best for them. It may be that temporary custody is all that’s needed to change the other home, but it won’t happen until we step out with faith and courage.
Are your stepchildren at risk in their custodial home? Is it time to do something different about custody arrangements?