Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
Parenting, step-parenting and loving unconditionally, Oh My! There is naturally, an unconditional, unbreakable bond between my biological children and me. Somehow, even when I want to “disown” one of my teenagers, I still look at them with love and awe that I get to be their mom. Every parent knows this, feels this, and will ferociously defend their biological children (aka mama bear). But when it comes to step parenting this does not just happen when you say “I do.” You may want it to happen but if we are honest, this “instinct” is not instantaneous. But! It can and will grow as you feed it with love in action.
We are very blessed to have five children who, for the most part get along incredibly well.
Every blended family looks different. Are the children “his and ours, hers and ours, his and hers, his and hers and ours? Are there more than two ex’s involved? How often do the children live with you? What is your schedule like? What is their schedule like?
Our blend has his and hers children, my three children were with us everyday (we launched one so now only two are with us everyday) and his are every other week (with flexibility). No matter what your blending looks like, what the schedule is, or what brought your children into a blended family, children must be assured that they belong in this family.
We are the adults and the children who are caught up in our blended family did not ask to be blended. No matter the reason, whether divorce or death, the remarriage of a parent was not originally on the “I can’t wait until this happens” list of a child.
Their feeling of belonging must have nothing to do with their “loveableness” at any given time, or their goodness. Their feeling of belonging and security in the family must rest on our love and grace for them no matter how “good” or “lovable” they are at any particular time.
I thank God every single day that He loves me when I am unlovable. He loves me when I am not good. He loves me at my absolute ugliest. This perfect love is what draws me closer to Him. He does not expect perfect behavior from me just because He loves me. In fact He knows that I will make mistakes, think evil thoughts, and sin daily until He brings me home for good. Yet, He still loves me and gives me grace and mercies new every morning.
If my step children are to feel secure in my home which is their home, then I must be sympathetic, compassionate, humble, and choose love. I must be compassionate to their feelings. I must continue to be kind. I must be humble and remember that although I want them to love me unconditionally they did not choose me; their dad did. I must remember that I am telling them that I am a Christian therefore, my behavior must reflect the behavior and teaching of Christ or I could end up being the very reason they turn away from the Lord as teenagers. I must do my best to not be a hypocrite and when I fail, I should own up to it.
As I write this I know this applies to my biological children as well. We have been given a tremendous gift in our children and stepchildren. When you are a parent of a blended family, the work it takes to know each child, and understand each child, is overwhelming. A stepparent must work with their parent to decide how and when to discipline each child, who will enforce what, what are the boundaries when the children are going back and forth, how do we make this fair to the children who are in our home everyday, what is triggering sadness, rudeness, lying, joy, or happiness in each child, what authority do I exercise today? Is today not the day to press in? What effect is the bouncing back and forth between parent’s having today?
Oh. My. Lord. Compassion and kindness are required!
Do I have the energy and wisdom to figure it out? Jesus, help me!
When I said “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. Psalm 94:18
The unfailing love of our Lord Jesus supports me minute by minute especially when “my foot is slipping.” To love with an unfailing love that supports my children AND stepchildren when their “foot is slipping.” That is my goal.
God truly blessed us with this family. A family full of love that we do not deserve. It is our honor and privilege to learn to love each child in such a way that they feel secure in their family just as we know we are secure in the family of God. If our children are going to grow to know the perfect love of the Father, it sure helps if they feel it at home.
Dear Lord, please help me parent the children you gave me that I do not deserve. Without the example of Your love written throughout your word, I would be lost. Thank you for supporting me when my foot is slipping. Help me to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Oh Lord! Help me with patience! Remind me to keep it simple and just love my children. Forgive me for making it complicated. Love you Jesus! Amen.