“Teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 90:12 ESV
Do you remember some phrases your parents or grandparents said that seemed to stick with you well into adulthood? I remember Mom saying throughout my youth, “Our lives are only a vapor.” It never made a lot of sense to me back then. When you are young you feel as if you could live forever. Your shoulder doesn’t creak and pop when you extend your arm. You can eat a fistful of peanuts, jalapeños and cheddar cheese without your stomach revolting. You can rise early and stay up late without suffering too much the next day. A “vapor”? Life felt like it always was just beginning when I was a child, teen, and young adult.
I’m 44 now, and it has dawned on me that I could be at my life’s half-way mark (or already lived beyond it). Mortality feels different now. Life can be random and cruel with its brevity. Yes Mom, you win. My first 44 years went by with lightning speed.
I also remember a lesson or sermon about “the dash”. This particular dash referred to is the dash on your tombstone or obituary, say 1974 – 20XX. Pastor asked, “What are you doing with your dash?” That stuck with me, too. A vapor. A dash. Both of these things sound so fleeting, fast…and short.
So what does a vapor and a dash have to do with being a stepparent? It has EVERYTHING to do with it. We already have a truncated period of time with our stepchildren since we have not known them since birth. Unless they live with us full time, we also have limited influence with them during the formative years.
We know in our blended family and co-parenting community that our role as a stepparent takes a lot of mental, emotional, and sometimes physical energy. Are we using that energy wisely? Executive Mentor and Coach Kelly Talamo teaches his audience, “There is an energy drain in everything you do. Choose wisely. ” Think about that for a minute. Everything we choose to direct our attention to saps a bit of our daily allotment of energy.
In this short amount of time that we are given to guide our stepchildren, are we focused on positive energy suppliers? For example:
- Are we hung up on a title? Just because you aren’t “the” mom or dad does not mean you aren’t “a” mom or dad. Don’t get hung up on how your stepchildren address you. Let them call you what is comfortable for them. Anything forced only will cause resentment.
- Are you LISTENING to your stepchildren during the valuable time you have with them? Allow them to SHARE stories about school, their new puppy, the vacation they took with mom or dad, their grandma’s awesome cookies, or ANYTHING they want to share. It is important that they feel comfortable talking about their life with the other parent without judgment. To discourage such conversations is destructive to their well-being, and is quite simply, parental alienation.
- Is your precious time being wasted by the woes of online negativity? Be mindful of what you post on social media. My husband and I have a love-hate with Facebook. It is a great way to catalog pictures and share experiences with those who have the best interest of your family at heart. However, social media has become a tool of destruction to many, the blended family included. NEVER bad-mouth the other parent, even if you think you’re being “safe” and not using his or her name. Kids are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for being, and they know what you are doing. JUST DON’T GO THERE. Vent to others you trust in private, but don’t air your grievances on social media. (This can apply to other topics as well. Be a classy human being!)
There are MANY others, but I will leave you with these important three tips for now.
Allow Jesus to be magnified through you today. Use your dash wisely. We have this one earthly existence, these few seasons of life. Make it count!
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! I don’t take your attention for granted. This is a work in progress and I hope to share something with you every day. I am not a psychologist or a counselor. I am, however, very passionate about helping other stepparents with prayer, inspiration, and hope. I care about you! Please leave me a prayer request and I will pray for you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I hope to be resourceful to your stepparent journey. God Bless You!