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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is it a Privilege to be a Stepparent?

I'll never forget the counselor's words when I cried out for help in the early years of our marriage, "I know it's difficult at times, but you might consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to be part of raising your stepchildren."

What? Is he crazy? My thoughts took over and I couldn't respond for fear of what might come out of my mouth. Was he listening to my heart-felt anguish?

Parenting stepchildren can feel more like a burden than a privilege at times. We have the responsibility of a parent with few parental rights. Fold the laundry. Cook dinner. Run the carpool. Yet, despite our efforts toward mundane parenting tasks, we get little regard or appreciation for our help.

I read a story recently in The Smart Stepmomby Ron Deal and Laura Petherbridge, that encouraged me to recognize the privilege we have as stepparents. I pray it does the same for you:

Lynn's story:

"Lynn and her husband combined six children - ages three, four, five, six, eight, and ten - who lived with them full time because her ex-husband was an alcoholic and his ex-wife abandoned her children She faced typical challenges when her stepchildren minimized her authority (You're not our mom!") and remained loyal to a biological mother they didn't know.

When her stepchildren reached adolescence, their mother reappeared and instantly turned them further against Lynn. Despite the fact that the biological mom had been absent for many years, she still had the power to tear apart everything Lynn had built with her stepkids. Disrespect and conflict became a daily occurrenc in Lynn's home, and her husband didn't handle his children well. Their marriage was in turmoil to the point that Lynn wanted a divorce. But she didn't file.

The dream of growing old together kept her from leaving and eventually produced fruit she never imagined.

When her second-oldest stepson was about to enter the Iraq War, he used his allotted two hours of phone time not to call his biological mother or father, but his stepmother, Lynn. He apologized to her for his prior behavior and thanked her for offering discipline and guidance throughout his life. He especially thanked her for raising him to know the Lord. 'After that call,' she says, I knew that every minute of being a stepmom was worth it.'"

When we're in the throes of stepparenting challenges, it's hard to see the privilege we've been given. But if we focus on the opportunity of influence we've been given with our stepchildren, we get a glimpse of the difference we can make. 

Can you recognize the important role you play as a stepparent?

Related Posts:

Positive Thinking Contributes to Successful Stepparenting

Struggling with Emotions

Steps for Successful Stepparenting

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At April 13, 2011 at 6:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you again for your blog, Grace. you have really helped me to put many things in perspective when it feels like at times I just want to bang my head against a wall to see some sort of result or just plain 'throw in the towel'. God is not in a hurry and I know He has it all in His capable hands.

At April 13, 2011 at 6:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry Gayla!

At April 13, 2011 at 12:27 PM , Blogger Step Parenting with Grace said...

Thank you for your comment. Stepparenting is hard. Without the support of other stepparents and the good Lord, I know I couldn't do this. I'm glad you find my blog helpful. Keep your chin up and press on!


At April 13, 2011 at 3:21 PM , Anonymous Sue said...

I've been a stepparent for ten years next week. I'll admit that there are times when I didn't view stepparenting as a privilege, but I do now as the youngest are getting ready to graduate and fly the nest.

My situation is very similar to Lynn's. When my husband and I got married, his ex was not in the picture, and the kids were desperate for mothering. After a few years, the ex came back and has been trying to undermine me and my husband at every turn. She is gifted at rewriting the past and twisting the truth until she comes out smelling like a rose and we are somehow the bad guys. There were definitely times when I was ready to throw in the towel.

But? I am the one they call. I'm the one they know they can count on. I'm the one who's there for them day in and day out, down in the trenches, helping to shape them into the men and women God wants them to be.

Last week? I was helping my stepdaughter fill out a scholarship application, and I noticed that she had put my name in the space marked Mother. (I'm still smiling.) I know I didn't give birth to her or her siblings, but they are a part of me and will always have a special place in my heart.

At April 14, 2011 at 8:53 PM , Blogger Step Parenting with Grace said...

Sue, That's so cool that she put your name in the space marked Mother. You have obviously made a difference in your stepchildren's lives. :)


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