This is a journey of many happy times and some struggles of being a “step-parent”. Blending of families takes work and lots of understanding with a willingness to change. It is not a task that can be taken lightly.
About 4 years ago when a met my husband and was introduced to his two beautiful children I knew that this was where I was supposed to be. I had already raised three great children of my own. The thought of starting over did not scare me it charged me. When our families became one almost three years ago I married my husband and my children (step-children).
Being a step-parent is one of the hardest jobs on earth. Being a mom of three grown kids of my own and then becoming a full-time step parent has made me realize how underappreciated most step-parents are. I firmly believe that God brought my two wonderful step-children into my life for a reason.
I made many mistakes with my three children. Unfortunately, they do not come with instructions nor are we given instructions how to be the perfect parent. I grew up in a family where both parents worked to provide my brother and I with a nice home that has a pool, the ability to go to a private school, and have nice clothes. So, this is what I thought I was supposed to do. So, I worked hard, got an education despite having three kids and a husband that drank too much.
Regardless of what I went through with my three children, helping to raise my two step-children is a challenge. Not because I do not love them as my own, but because society puts labels on people. A step-parent is not really a parent. They are just my dad’s wife, or my mom’s husband. They may work hard to give the kids a comfortable life, but for the most we are not viewed that as parent. There is also input for the other parent who can help to create distension in the family.
As for me, I have chosen to love them and treat them with love. This includes disciplining them with love. This is not always easy. I have been told as I am sure other step-parents have heard the statement, ” You’re not my mother, so I don’t have to.” It is easy to get angry and want to respond in anger. Learning to take a step back and answer with love can change the whole situation. My response was, “you are right I am not your mother, but I am your step-mother and I am not here to replace your mom. I am here to love you and teach you. You still have to follow the house rules and obey.” I reached out and hugged my daughter at the same time. She cried for a bit then we talked. She still was disciplined for her losing her temper and hitting her brother, but it was done with love.
Now in the past with my own children they may have gotten a spanking as well, but with step-children that is not possible. You cannot spank them or lay a hand on them in any way. That is reserved for them biological parents, which seems a bit strange to me. You see I am adopted and my parents spanked me as a child. It worked. I would have never thought to call CPS or threaten too. They were not my “biological parents”, but they were my parents. There was no adoptive-parent status. They were just two people who loved me enough to teach me right from wrong. Often times a step-parent can be more loving, more involved and a better parent then a biological parent. Yet, they are often made to feel like an outsider.
A step-parent cannot really disciple the kids. Almost like being a teacher. You can have rules, but to really enforce the stiff rules you have to send the kids to the principal’s office. And even then, they may or may not be any real consequences. Often times, as a step-parent your hands are tied and you just have to keep your mouth shut and continue moving forward. This is not an easy task; well at least it isn’t for me. I am thankful that I have God in my life and understand the power of prayer, because without it I know I could not get through each day without the calming and loving touch God answers with. Understand I am not perfect and there are times when I lose my temper and lose sight of the correct path, but I am always reminded of where I should be. Sometimes it is a gut feeling and other times it may be via input from my husband or other family member.
The bible refers to family and love in many scriptures, but two that help me are Proverbs 22:6 , “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” and Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
There are many more scriptures that refer to love and family, but these two remind us that we have a duty to teach our children how to love, respect, and treat their family and other people. We are their guides. So if I yell and scream and lose my temper all I am teaching my children disrespect. I teach them that their input is not valued and that they are not important. On the other hand, if I stop and stay calm, which is never easy to do, I can have conversation where my child feels valued and respected. I get a better understanding of what they were thinking. This allows for teaching the child about treating others with respect and love. It also gives the parent or step-parent the opportunity to help the child discover better ways to express their anger.
Now I realize that this does not always happen. Sometimes situations happen and things get out of control quickly. But, as the adult we must do our best to regain composure so that we may teach our children how to love and respect others, as well as honor their parents. If we love and honor our children then our children will grow up to honor and respect us and yes this includes the step-parent. It is much harder for the step-parent because we are the outsider and we have to earn our place within the family. This is when the power of prayer comes in. I ask God daily for help and that I may do and say what He wants me to. I still have the ability to choose my own path due to free will, but God always quickly corrects my behavior thru conviction. Our Father has taught us how to be loving, kind, respectful and patient thru His teaching in the bible as well as through our own parents who disciplined us. My hope is to encourage other parents and especially step-parents to keep praying and moving forward because God has a plan for all of us.