You may not have known this, but there is a distinct difference between, “This is my dad’s wife,” “This is my Stepmother,” and “This is my Step Mom!”
What do I mean by this?
Sure by marriage you may be considered a stepparent, they may even call you their “Stepmother,” but do you have a meaningful relationship with your stepchildren?
Let me explain.
Growing up, when my mother remarried I had a stepdad, but I never thought to call him that. Strange right? I remember one day talking with a friend and mentioning something about, “my mom’s husband.” When I did, my friend interrupted me and said,
“Wouldn’t that be your step dad?”
I was shocked, confused and upset all in one. My dad had set such a high standard of fatherhood (not perfect but a great father) that calling anyone a name close to that was almost blasphemous. Plus I was a daddy’s girl. I remember my heart racing super fast as I snarled back at my friend with an attitude that could end a friendship,
“No! He’s my mom’s husband.”
And I quickly changed the topic.
Later that day, I thought about the conversation and wondered why in the world had I never considered him to be a stepfather? I thought about our interactions up until that point. He never showed interest in my life especially when I wasn’t around; he never poured wisdom into me, I never felt a need to go to him for anything mentally, emotionally or socially. Our relationship was meaningless. So I decided that he would remain, “my mom’s husband,” because I didn’t see why the relationship warranted any other title.
Sure my loyalty to my father played a role in this, but I don’t believe that would have stopped me from seeing him as my stepfather if he had given himself value in my life. From my perspective, he wasn’t a genuine, consistent parental figure in my life and his presence only benefited my mom. So why would I call him my step-dad?
Here is where it gets real.
I am a bio mom and a stepmom. I was a step child. I know it can be easy to just exist in the lives of your stepchildren and only step up when needed. But as a Christ-following step-parent, your assignment is much bigger than just existing. You are called to be more than just “My dad’s wife,” or “My Stepmother,” you are called to a meaningful relationship that brings value to the lives of your stepchildren, even if they never recognize you for it.
Being a stepmom is a challenging and often very thankless job. It tends to be around mother’s day when the awkwardness of being a stepmother consumes our thought life. It’s when you don’t know if you should celebrate your motherhood or be silent in your motherhood. It’s when you start comparing and contrasting all the things you do that make you a mother that should be thanked at least on that day. It’s when the active stepmoms and inactive stepmoms all want to be recognized for their efforts, and trust me, both exist and want praise.
But Mother’s Day shouldn’t be the day that we compare and contrast ourselves as mothers. We should do that all the time. Not in comparison to the child’s biological mother, (if you’re doing that, your eyes are on the wrong person) but rather how you measure up to YOU. How well are you doing in fulfilling the assignment God has given YOU in your step child’s life? You should be pursuing HIS “Well Done” for your assignment not for theirs.
So, how well are you doing in the pursuit for your “Well Done?” If you’re struggling to have a more meaningful relationship with your step children, here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Call or text them throughout the week and see how they are doing– Not just when they are headed for a visit or during holidays and birthdays. Text with no strings attached and with the understanding that you may be ignored or rejected the first few times as they begin to learn how to embrace you in a more active way. Be genuine and consistent.
- Learn their love language and begin to speak it– Not in an overbearing way but in a way where they feel you have taken the time to understand them and have a genuine interest in getting to know them. Again be authentic and consistent.
- Never talk negatively about the biological mother– This is a biggy! No matter how horrible you feel she is, speak positive or say nothing at all. Remember, this child is a byproduct of both your spouse and the biological mother. They want to believe the best and not the worst about their mother no matter how she is treating them. So even during those times when dealing with the biological mother is a challenge, remember that everyone expresses brokenness differently, that doesn’t make them a horrible person, it just reveals their level of brokenness.
Our role as stepmother is not to replace their biological mother, but to be an additional source of love, wisdom, and protection. They may never call us mom, mommy or mama, EVER, but we need to be clear on the assignment we have been given in our step children’s lives. We need to remember that we are working for a,“Well Done my good and faithful servant,” anything else we get is a bonus!
So stepmom’s it’s time to Step up. No more excuses! Through the disappointments, and frustration, we must extend grace when grace may not be extended to us, and love when love may not be shown toward us because as Nehemiah 6:3 says, we’re doing a great work and,”We can’t come Down.”