- We have a tribe.
- We model the mate we want our child to have and to be.
- We exemplify forgiveness
- We speak words of life
- We let our stepchildren catch us reading the Bible
- We never say disparaging words to them about their biological parent
- We take good care of ourselves
I believe all of these are important habits, but I have to categorize my own list somehow. I will end my list with the habit I think is most important, but none of them are truly “least”. The order is truly a matter of opinion.
7 We need to find our “tribe”! I have a network in the community and online of about 50 stepmoms. If I count all of the social media followers, church friends, family, and co-workers who support my effort as a stepmom, the number would in the thousands. But there are only so many hours in the day and I only have time for so many quality relationships. There are about 40-50 of us who stay in regular touch with each other, comment on each others pleas for advice, and share recommended books and ideas. I have been building this wonderful network of stepmoms for about 11 years.
6 We take care of our minds and bodies in addition to our souls. It is so important that we fill our own buckets. We spend so much time filling the emotional buckets of others that we sometimes forget our own bucket is dry. This is a common theme with stepparents. Whether it’s taking even 15 minutes a day to read, a warm shower or soothing bubble bath, a trip to the salon or a walk while listening to our favorite music, we need to nourish our own hearts with joyful things.
5 We don’t hide our spirituality from our stepchildren. I remember seeing my grandmother read the Bible each morning. I knew it made me feel good to see her immersed in God’s Word, but I didn’t know why it made feel good. As an adult I understand now. Seeing her filling her “spiritual” bucket each morning made me feel loved, protected, and peaceful. She was equipping herself with God’s armor of perseverance and mercy. This not only affected her life but it encouraged generations after her to follow her gentle example of grace.
4 We exemplify forgiveness. Oh my sisters and brothers of Step, we collectively have SO VERY MUCH in common. The struggles seem to come in roaring, crashing waves. We are treated “less than” by many in society and even by well-meaning people. Our motives often times are questioned by a high-conflict biological parent (if that’s what you deal with like we do). Our spouses sometimes expect us to react to trying situations with perfect grace. We know the painful depths of all these emotions, yet we FORGIVE. Successful stepparents know that forgiving is as good for the giver as the receiver. We leave all of the bitterness at the foot of the cross. When forgiving is especially hard, we know that it might be necessary for some quality time reading the Word, taking care of ourselves with some time alone, or telling our frustrations to a Christian confidant.
3 We don’t speak unkind words about the biological mom or dad to the step-kids. Ever. If you want to ostracize the young minds in your blended family and create a distance for days or decades, badmouth their Momma. However if you want to create an accepting and peaceful environment, allow them to talk about their other home and share the other half of their lives as well. Be their safe zone. Don’t cringe at names. Don’t roll your eyes when they bring up “Mom”. Don’t snicker under your breath when they bring up “Dad”. My stepson recently informed me he never was allowed to mention my name to his Mom. He had to refer to me as “her”. We never imposed such Godless, silly rules. He felt free to mention his mother and places they went, shows they watched, etc. The end result? He is appreciative that we respected his Mom and we have a deep level of trust and respect as a stepfamily. Nobody can take that away from us!
2 We speak words of encouragement and love. Hate and bitterness has no place in my home. I’m going to be blunt here. If your step-kids hear you being hateful about their Mom, their Dad, their dog, etc. you will face some hardships with them. Vitriolic words don’t accomplish anything but confusion. If you are a bio mom or dad reading this and you speak ill of the stepmom or stedad to the child, see No. 3 again and seek some counseling.
1 We exemplify a loving and Godly wife. I speak words of life to my stepson, treat him with respect, and gently correct him when he needs it because that’s what he deserves. He deserves kindness, warmth, and understanding. Hopefully he will seek out a spouse who treats him the same. His life has meaning and value, and I want him to seek out a LADY who loves the Lord first and him next as her partner for all of life.
God Bless You all today! I hope this list is helpful. Please feel free to send me YOUR list as well. I love new ideas and perspectives.
Much love –
I am super grateful today. I feel God moving in my life more and more each day. He’s firing up the parked ignition of my soul and moving it to great places. Sometimes I feel like we are moving at 100 m.p.h., but in the recent past I felt “stuck” in a quagmire of an unfulfilling to-do list.
BE READY WHEN YOU ASK THE LORD TO MOVE YOUR SPIRIT! HE’S ABOUT TO DO MAGNIFICENT THINGS.
My most favorite journey (besides my daily walk with the Lord) is being a wife. Steve and I have been together for nearly 17 years, and MY GOODNESS what a storied trail of joy, tears, love, hope, travels, homes, change, and renewal the years have been! I KNEW the moment I met him he was going to be someone special in my life, but I never imagined how wonderful God’s plan was going to be.
Being a stepmom to Keegan is my next favorite path of life. I might be odd, but I LOVED the teen years and I know I’m going to enjoy the exciting decade of his 20’s just as much. Yes, I am a parent to him, but YES we are entering into another fantastic era as well. I don’t believe we should be friends with our children, but the adult years provide more depth and understanding.
God has opened the gate to some more paths for me to traverse throughout my day and possibly for the rest of my working life. The only obstacle is…me.
I don’t like change. When it finds me, I want to run straight back to cozy blue and floral baby blanket.
My comfy home routine is shaken up with caring for aging parents once a month, 500 miles away. My predictable daily schedule of coupon cutting and playing with my dogs is now a running list of book writing, church activities, Bible study groups, studying to be a stepfamily counselor, researching the characteristics of PAS for future clients, maintaining a growing social media, helping with the communications for a wonderful faith-based race team, and trying to read the Bible in its entirety (along with about three other books at the same time.)
But change is refreshing and exhilarating! I wake up to greet the day with a child’s wonder.
I didn’t realize I missed human interaction while I’ve been out of the workplace. I didn’t realize I had so many unused and untapped talents.
I forgot how good it feels to be needed.
My dear blog friends, I pray you feel needed today, too. I pray that you know how important your life is to someone. I pray that you keep finding yourself, keep discovering new talents, and pray that you ask God to just keep moving that parked car broke down on Stuck Street.
“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!