Today I woke up and rolled over to find my deliciously cuddly four year old in my bed, sandy feet from yesterday’s shenanigans and all. And I’m thankful. Thankful for this crazy chaotic blended family life. If not for the storms of blended family life, I would not have this great husband, these amazing “ours” kids, and the honor to love on someone else kids.
But let’s be real. This is a mixed bag kind of day for women. We’re rejoice in the great relationships with our children, stepchildren and our own mothers. Simultaneously we mourn the children we have lost. We mourn the relationships with bio kids, step kids, and parents that are not intact or not healthy. Some of us mourn the loss of our own mother.
As I solemnly ponder this (with my back drop being one kid yelling “Mom! Can you help me find my unicorn?” and another yelling “Mom, can I have cheeseballs for breakfast?”). I think about the many reasons to NOT love your step kids (and then I talk myself and hopefully you out of that mindset should it ever understandably cross your mind.).
10 Reasons Not to Love Your Stepkids
- Your stepkid has wronged you. Talk to any bio parent. This is what kids do, they wrong their parents. They disappoint, they disobey. This is not unique to step parenting. Welcome to parenting 101. You’re officially a real parent if your kids or step kids wrong you. Love them anyway.
- Your husband’s ex has told lies about you and damaged your character. Sadly this happens. It’s like being hit by a ton of bricks. It’s unfair yet it happens all too often. It’s upsetting. I figure there are two choices here. Become the bitter, ugly, unqualified parent the ex might say that you are, or hold your head up high, behave gracefully in the face of adversity and let your true character shine. People will eventually see your true character. Love them anyway.
- Your’e not a real parent (and you’ve probably been told so). News flash: things like packing lunches, cleaning someone else’s kids soiled sheets after an accident, doing laundry, putting bandaids on, driving kids to and from school, cooking meals and listening to a teenager’s heartaches makes you a real parent. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not a real parent. Love them anyway.
- Your stepkid is not nice to you. Again, I say, talk to any bio parent. They will tell you that kids are not nice. Ok sometimes they are, but a lot of the time they aren’t. Like the times when they tantrum at Disneyland (not always the happiest place on Earth, is it?), or when they treat you disrespectfully in front of their teenage friends, or when they open a birthday present and exclaims it’s not what they wanted. Parenting is not contingent on a child’s behavior. Kids don’t have to earn appropriate parenting. They should just get it because it’s the right thing for parents to do. As my husband often reminds me “You’re the grown up here.” (oh, yeah…thanks for the reminder, seriously I sometimes need that). Parents don’t just parent “good kids”, they parent disobedient, unkind, not-so-fun-to-be-around kids too. By providing solid parenting even in tough situations you are growing this kid up into a healthy person (who will be nicer some day). Love them anyway.
- I have to protect myself, I have to think of myself first. Self-preservation, I hear you, a natural tendancy. But yet the Bible says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippine 2:3-4 NIV). Huh, put the interests of others above my own? Value others (like your step kids) above yourself? Yep, we’re told this straight from God. Love them anyway.
- There’s nothing in this for me, it’s a thankless job. Yep, parenting is pretty much a thankless job until your kids are 40, or so I hear. Kids don’t say thanks for limits, curfews, and having to eat brussel sprouts. But when they’re older they will thank you. (Like that kid of mine still begging me for cheese balls for breakfast). No lie, parenting and stepparenting is hard work, it’s a constant selfless sacrifice. Love them anyway.
- I’m exhausted from trying. God provides peace and strength unlike anything in this world. Seek Him. God tell us in Isaiah 40:31 (NIV), “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Be still and let Him help. Love them anyway.
- What I do doesn’t matter. Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to be involved in many big “important” business matters with very profitable dollar signs attached (feeding someone else’s pockets, not mine, mind you). But I will never forget what happened one day at work, early in my career. I was on a phone queue, picked up a call from a customer, handled business as usual. Yay me, job well done, right? However, before we hung up the call, the customer quietly and slowly said “Thank you for being nice to me today…no one has been nice to me today.” In that moment I knew that we can spend our time running around doing “important” things, but there’s nothing so impactful as being nice to a human being. What you do does matter. Love them anyway.
- My step kids are my husband’s responsibility, not mine. You could look at that way, sure. But remember when you married your husband two became one. The Bible does not say two become one, except in the hard things. And you are powerful, and you can respect your husband in this journey. Your words are powerful. You can use those words to build your husband up. You can use that same power of words well-chosen to build your step kids up, even when you’re hurting and even when you have been wronged. God tell us in Proverbs 12: 18-20 (NIV), “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.” Use your power for good, not evil, Stepmom. Love them anyway.
- My stepkid doesn’t like me, why should I like or even love him? Simple: because God commands us to. And I don’t know about you, but God is the boss of me. I’m imperfect, I fail often, but I try to remember the commands my boss has given me. In Matthew 5:43-44 (NIV) we are told, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Love them anyway.
Stepmom are brave, amazing, tough, and admirable. I firmly believe God has planted stepmoms right where they can impact and bless others. You got this, Stepmama. Happy Mother’s Day!