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?
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
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.
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.comTel:242-352-5268, or 352-5252