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Columns : Relationships Matter - Cedric Beckles Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Developing Healthy Relationships as a Stepparent - Part 2
By Cedric Beckles
Jan 5, 2010 - 1:55:54 PM

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One of the most challenging and complicated problems facing families today is the issue of developing and maintaining healthy relationships with stepchildren. Undoubtedly, many new spouses must feel, upon entering into a stepfamily situation, that they are suddenly expected to act like Superman and "leap tall buildings with a single bound."

Teach and model repentance and forgiveness in your relationships

Joshua once said, "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). Are you proclaiming this to your children by your words and by your actions? To what extent are you willing to go to make this a reality?

Modeling repentance and forgiveness  in all the relationships of a stepfamily situation may be one of your greatest challenges. Yet it will make an incredible impact on everyone if your family.

For example, you may face ongoing struggles with your ex-spouse—over time with your children, over differing standards of morality, or any number of other issues. This ex-spouse may act unreasonable and even vindictive. It is incredibly challenging to deal with a biological parent who has different ideas, values and expectations about the way their child should be raised.

In your anger and frustration, you may be tempted to malign the character of your ex-spouse in front of the children. You may want to seek revenge. But this is also one of the greatest opportunities you will have to model the love and grace of Jesus Christ . You have a critical choice to make: Will you model to your children how to walk in the flesh, or how to walk in the Spirit? Will you express grace and forgiveness?

Your children and stepchildren need you to lead them. It won't be easy. Your example of Christ-like patience and kindness can show your children and stepchildren that God is at work in your stepfamily. And it will do something even more important—it will show them the Gospel. Your real-life example of forgiveness can give them a picture of Jesus Christ, who

Allow bonding to proceed at the pace of the child

Don't expect to quickly develop a close relationship with a stepchild .  It may take as many years as the child was old when the marriage occurred, for a 'family feeling' to develop between stepparent and stepchild. Children who were in the teen years when the marriage occurred may never bond to a point where the stepparent is a parent figure to them; they may develop only a good friendship."

Allow the biological parent to assume primary disciplinary responsibilities for each stepchild

You need to develop a relationship with a stepchild before you begin to be involved in discipline.  Don't rush it, or the bonding could take even longer and cause conflict in your stepfamily.   If the stepparent begins giving consequences and discipline before the child trusts that they are loved and safe with the stepparent, the relationship can be damaged.   Young children may accept discipline from you more quickly, but with older children and teenagers, it may take at least a year. Talk regularly with your spouse, agree on boundaries and disciplinary actions, and back each other up as you deal with your children.

Establish God as the overriding authority in all of your lives

Children need to know that God has given you the position of authority over them. But more important, they need to know that:

·          God is the divine authority who can be trusted in all things.

·          You are submitting your life daily to God's authority.

For a child the world has been turned upside down when adjusting to remarriage.   They are working through emotions of grief and loss, as well as anger, guilt, and fear. Even their sense of right and wrong has been significantly challenged through a series of events that have occurred before their very eyes. No longer is the world black and white but instead many shades of gray.   Wise stepparents will communicate to their children that though.   And though they may be questioning decisions and the authority of their parents, His (God) authority is always to be trusted for there is no end to "the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" His judgments are "unsearchable" and His ways "unfathomable!" (Romans 11:33).

They may not always be willing to listen, but children will take note as you model a submission to God's authority. As they see you honor, respect and obey God in all matters, they will begin to follow your lead.

This becomes especially critical as stepchildren question and challenge the decisions of their stepparents or as you fail and fall short as a parent. Faithfully and lovingly going to Scripture when you're questioned, and humbly admitting when you're wrong, will show them that you follow God's commands even when it's hard. This deep respect for God and His Word and His authority over your life will serve to create an atmosphere that fosters good, healthy relationships with your children.

About the Author: Cedrick Beckles is a pastor, family/marriage counselor, motivational speaker and writer, who equips people  to establish and maintain healthy relationships.  Email bahamaslifeministries@ yahoo.com Tel:242-352-5268, or 352-5252

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Developing Healthy Relationships as a Stepparent - Part 2
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