30 Days to a Better Stepfamily – Day 4
Turf wars were raging between my stepdaughter and me. She was determined to be the woman of the house and dictate what would, and would not happen, and I was sure that this would not be the order of our lives. Knowing that this eight year old ruling the roost would not be healthy for her, my marriage, or the other children in our home, pressed me to look for ways to handle the situation. It is so easy to take it personally when you are attacked and challenged, even by an eight year old. But the root of the problem is deeper than a child who wants to be in charge of the stepmother.
I began to search on line for help, anything that could stop the struggle and arguing that was our daily lives.
In my search I found the etymology of the term “Step” child. It is an 8th century term meaning “orphaned or bereaved”, and bereaved meaning –to be deprived of a loved one through a profound absence especially death. (New Oxford American Dictionary ).
I watched my children and stepchildren, and yes, there is bereavement going on. The original family is no longer present, it is broken as a looking glass on a stone floor, with shards everywhere, and they are continually cut with each movement; with each encounter with a parent or stepparent.
How do you comfort one so young? How do you explain that love does exist as they grieve the death of the love their parents once had for each other? How do you explain that they are safe? Divorce has happened once, and it could happen again.
The child looks with eyes clouded with anger and fear, looks at you, wanting so desperately for the words to be true, but not said by a Stepmother. They want to hear it from their real mother and from their real father, in their home, where the crazy of the world was so far away and fear could never reside in the pit of their stomach!
And the anger causes her whole body to shake as she puddles onto the floor.
“Don’t touch me!” she yells, as if I’m some immoral person coming beside her.
“Okay”, I whisper, never leaving her side, “Do you want to call your dad or mom?”
“NO!…Yes…I just want to go home –but my home is gone. Mom has her house and dad has his house and I don’t fit in anywhere!”
Her voice cries out like an orphan in a strange place, full of bereavement.
And everything in me wants to hold, and rock this one, who thirty-minutes earlier, was pushing me to the brink. But now, in this broken moment, she is not anything menacing or challenging, she is a little girl with a broken heart trying to figure out where she fits-in.
She calls her mother, who is at the house within the hour, and I watch her fly out of the door without as much as a goodbye.
Holding my head in my hands and laying it down on the kitchen island, I pray.
“How Lord, how do I survive this?” “Will our marriage survive these children?”
The enemy has taken my stepdaughter’s emotions captive and she gnashes and fights with people trying to break free of a grip that holds her unaware.
Slowly I reach for my Bible. Gently, as He always does, I feel the hand that loves me nudging me through scripture, leading me to encouragement.
“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more (Jeremiah 31:15 NASB)
Bitter weeping, that is what stepchildren do, and sometimes you will see tears.
Let us remember who the real enemy is here. It is not the stepchild, but the voice of the world, the voice of the enemy of old, trying to destroy the next generation using their wounds against them.
“When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people: ‘Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14 NASB)
How do you fight in this situation? You begin with worship and the Word. Turn on music to bless your Father in heaven, then go to His Word and pray.
For years I tried to pray with my stepdaughter as I did my birth daughter, but she would have no part of it. So I prayed for her in my quiet time. I prayed for her to have a godly husband, good friends, and good grades and for all the relationships in her life. I prayed for her diligently as I did for my birth children. For years, it seemed like my prayers were hitting the ceiling and not helping the situation at All!
The first year at college she calls one day. Finals were harder that she thought they would be, and she and the boyfriend in whom she had high hopes had broke up.
“Diane, will you please pray for me?” It was the first time she ever allowed me to pray with her. There was also a second “first” that day. Before hanging up the phone, she said, “I love you.”
Life with stepchildren is not for the tender of hide. But I would cling to God’s Word:
“Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded”, declares the lord, “and they shall return from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future”, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:16,17 NASB)