By Dr. Douglas F. Levesque, Founder of The Levesque Institute
Americans would have a hard time saluting the communist Chinese flag. Some Americans might be challenged to recognize it in a line up. One thing for sure, is that very few, if any, of us could yield allegiance to it. The same sentiments are beating in the heart of step children everywhere. “How can I pay allegiance to someone I did not choose and do not want,” is a struggling thought for step children. It is no wonder most step parents describe their task as a no win situation. That description may well be true but there are a few secrets that can help even the most discouraged step parent enjoy their challenge.
Adulthood Usually Clears the Focus on our Childhood
A thirty year old man married with children begins to see with alarming clarity why his parents did things the way they did. Often times he forgives what he perceived as an offensive policy and sometimes even adopts those same parental decisions himself. As impossible as parenting situations can be, step parenting situations can eclipse them in size and scope. Truly a step mom may have to say words or make decisions that a biological mother may never face. Step dads can seem like twice the monster that a biological father may seem to be, simply for taking the same actions. However, time has a way of changing the dull lenses of childhood, allowing the bitter or defiant step child to begin to appreciate the step parent. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (I Cor. 13:11). There is hope, Step mom. You will be appreciated someday. And Step dad, they will not hate you forever. Do right by your step children. Enjoy the fact that their kids will call you grandma and grandpa someday!
Commitment and Action are More Rewarding then Sentiment
Those step kids have an inner fight about whether or not to like you, Step dad. Your simple sentiment is not enough, Step mom. Do not be upset because they call you ‘Bill’ instead of ‘Dad’. Remember you are not their biological father, and their young heart usually has room for only one such loyalty. Remember Paul in that famous love chapter in the Bible, I Corinthians 13:1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” Your love is not biological, but instead must be a commitment to right actions. Even if those actions are not always popular. You are not in competition with the biological parent but you may end up being a winner in that child’s life by exuding a substantive love.
Balance between Your Biological Children and Stepchildren is Possible
Again the bible says God gave his only son in order that we might be ‘adopted’ children.
“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (Eph. 1:5). Sharing that natural bond with step kids is not natural, but can be purposed and achieved. Talk to both sets of kids about what the desired goal is… a happy family, and set out to be just that. Spend individual time with each child and follow it up with a corporate whole family experience. Finally, charity, “believeth all things,” (I Cor. 13:7), so never show a wavering that you doubt the necessary balance possible. Those step kids might feel fear and attack! If nothing else your spouse will appreciate your efforts, and become a believer in your designed goals for a unified family.
Divorce is a personal, family and national tragedy, and nobody that has suffered and endured it will say, “Oh, it was great! You should get one!” That is especially true were kids fall into the horrible category of step kid. Second marriages have lower success rates than first marriages precisely because of the seemingly impossible mission of step parenting. But for those who find themselves in that awkward situation, a purposed drive to enjoy the kids and strive for the rewards of grand parenting is the key ingredients to a satisfying experience.