30 Days to a Better Stepfamily –Day 9
They are sisters by marriage and not by blood, yet their mannerisms are so similar. Last summer we had trouble telling them apart in photographs and needed to look at their swimsuits to tell who was who.
I study them closely trying to really know who they were created to be, looking for their strengths, as well as their weaknesses. I am watching to learn the signs of an inner war or a bold face lie. They both get loud when they are losing an argument and cry when they finally surrender, and neither one of them can keep quiet when they buy a Christmas present – they would bust a gut if the secret had to be kept until Christmas Day.
They are harsh in their criticisms of each other, but no one else better say one word about the other outside of our family; that is the way it should be in a family. Even a stepfamily – we are a real family, and I silently watch their interactions together and separately. They are so alike and so different. One has a master’s degree in education and teaches advanced fourth graders, and the other works in New York for a well-known women’s fashion designer. They fight like real sisters; they dress each other up for special occasions like sisters. I believe, for all practical purposes, they are real sisters, and at times my eyes will fill full of joy for them.
Children are designed for a specific purpose, but from my point of view it is difficult to know how to encourage them, because I did not design, them nor was I given an itinerary for their lives, so daily I watch and try to listen and learn from the Father who created them so unique and different, and see them from a perfect vantage point.
“ My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.” (Psalms 139:15 NASB)
Children want to be known. We all were created to be known first by God, then by our parents.
They want us to know that one likes mustard while the other likes ketchup, one likes pickles and the other, olives. They want us to know them.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalms 139:NASB)
They expect us to know how to raise them to adulthood, even when we don’t know what we are doing. They expect us to know what will get them hurt and what will keep them safe. They want us to be the boss even when they fight us tooth and nail for freedom. To do, this we must have a relationship with Christ, the one who knows what these children were created to do, and we must study them, as you would a subject that you would like to understand. So that when trouble comes – and it will – we can be skilled in the Word of God, and so familiar with their thoughts and actions that we can make choices that will make a difference in their lives.
“This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27 NASB)
The word “Visit” is the Greek word, “Episkeptioai” and it means, “ To look at something, examine closely, to look with mercy.
Here, we are instructed to study the widows and orphans, so we will know how to best help them. We are not just to visit, but also to look diligently at the person, so as to extend mercy properly. Learn the ways of your child and stepchild; know what cranks their tractor, and what shuts it down. What is their learning style, what books will they read willingly and what needs encouragement? How will you know how to beg, bargain or bribe them if you don’t know them well?
Yes I have done all three – did I mention that I have four children? And yes there have been times I have been reduced to bribing them so that we can get something done around here! I told you from the beginning, I was not an expert at this. I just might be a little further down the road than you, and, I can tell you where the pits are and where the road is smooth.
Study your children and stepchildren; study your husband; be an expert at knowing your family and it will make you life in a stepfamily a little easier.