Here is a great article for Step Parents from www.ParentMinistry.net
I spoke at Rock Bridge Community Church in Dalton, GA this weekend. My friend (and one of our subscribers) Allen Bishop put together a fabulous Parent Seminar and had a great turn-out.
(quick trivia tip: I was told that 97% of the world’s carpet is produced in Dalton, GA. That blew my mind.)
A huge part of my talk was to inspire Parents to be strategic about passing down faith. I worked hard to encourage them to understand that leading their kids spiritually does not have to feel intimidating.
After I was done, I had a shy and quiet couple walk over to me to ask a question.
The husband stared at me for about 5 seconds before he said a word. He had tears welling up in his eyes.
Then he said,
“I am a step dad. I love my wife’s children so much, and I want to spiritually lead them, but I am scared to death to cross their boundaries. I am scared to death that one day they are going to yell at me ‘You’re not my Dad!’ What do I do?”
THIS IS WHAT I TOLD HIM:
1) Let your stepkids set the boundaries. Don’t do it for them:
I found out pretty quickly that his stepkids had not told him to back off, he was just afraid they would. This is common for many new step parents. It’s not so much that the kids are asking for space but the step parent is afraid of rejection.
So if the kids ask for space in a healthy way, then for a period of time it’s appropriate to give them time to get used to having a new parent in their life.
But if they don’t ask you to back off, then don’t back off. I told this amazing man,
“I can see by your emotion that you have a passionate desire to love and lead these kids. Your wife wants you to do this. Your stepkids are not stopping you from doing it. SO DO IT! Go give those kids the love and leadership they deserve.”
2) They will most likely yell at you!
I don’t know too many parents or step parents that escape getting yelled at by their kids. The reality is that when a kid yells at a parental figure they are in essence saying,
“I am hurt or afraid and I need to spew my anger and fear at someone. I don’t trust anyone else to take the ugliest parts of me and still love me, but I believe you will.”
So in a very weird way, when they yell at you they are giving you the compliment of making you their safe place.
I’m not condoning kids yelling at parents, but it is important to see every side of what is going on when it happens.
This what I told that awesome Step Dad:
“I hate to tell you this, but they probably will yell at you and say ‘You’re not my Dad’. So instead of being afraid of that, be ready to respond to that by saying, ‘I’m not your biological Dad but I love you and I’m not going anywhere.’ God will give you grace in the moment and the investments made in your relationship prior to that moment will help you survive it.”
I really believe that if there were a brick wall behind that step dad he would have run through it on his way out that door.
I walked away from the conversation thinking to myself that his stepkids are pretty lucky to have that man in their life!
Your Parent Ministry Partner,