Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Have you ever wondered why we only celebrate Mother’s day and not step-mother’s or step-father’s day? As a step-father to four amazing young boys, I was disappointed when I went to pick up my four year old from Preschool on around father's day. As I walked in, I noticed the announcement board was full of pictures of all the fathers. Sadly, I also noticed there were no pictures of any "step" parents. Of course, to expect anything else from a "church" preschool is probably not worth any time. However, I was hurt. I hid my feelings from my son but I wasn't able to shake it all off. I may not be related by blood, but I love more than even blood can. Why cannot I also be appreciated on the so great and awful "Fathers" day? I know my son loves me and accepts me, but at the age of four he is not encouraged, even discouraged to call me "Papa" like he does when he knows no one is around. Why the shame? Why the hypocrisy? I'm sure many of you can relate. You may be a step parent or even have step parents yourself, this is a word for you today. A word to encourage and enlighten.
Though history has not been kind to step-parents in general as you are all well aware. Even the story of Cinderella and the wicked step-mother leaves us all thinking that all step-parents are wicked and unloving, which is so far from the truth. I dare tell you the truth because I have lived it, seen it, and continue to experience it: Some step parents love their "step" children more and more genuinely than the biological parent.
A step-parent’s responsibility is a “stepping up” one. Stepping up to loving and accepting children that are not biologically theirs. While most biological parents enjoy the natural and unrestrained love that occurs between a healthy parent and child, this same flow is not automatic when It comes to step-parents. A step-parent has to be more intentional and deliberate in loving their step-children unconditionally.
How can anyone do this? As a step-father to four young boys, I admit that I loved them before I knew them. I loved them not account of whether or not they loved me back, on the contrary. Under the circumstances I was in, the lover of their not-yet divorced mother, it wasn't a rosy and "love" feeling relationship. Their biological father constantly claimed that I was some kind of evil and dangerous creature and commanded them to stay away from me. The eldest of m,y step sons had such a hatred towards me before knowing me that he even punched a hole in the wall when his mother told him that she loved me.
Love isn't based on actions or reactions, it is unconditional. Because I love my wife, I cannot but also love her four boys. Isn’t that the way God loves us also? Doesn’t His love for us come from His unconditional love for His Son, Jesus Christ? Because of God’s love for His own Son, He can look at me, an imperfect and sinful child, with the same loving eyes as He does my Lord.
My new wife was also getting acclimated to being a step-mother to my two adult boys. She had a mindset of loving them always, no matter what, but also being honest in feelings and disappointments. She experienced the usual up and down emotional swings that teenagers often go through but stayed consistent in her affections for them. Unexpectedly on one occasion, came a pleasant surprise! We were in a meeting where each person had to choose another individual to publicly appreciate-my youngest son chose her. His words were so touching, they brought tears not only to her eyes but to all who were in the room.
If you are determined to love your step-children this way, expect to face some challenges as you would in any relationship, biological or otherwise. You deal with challenges as they appear and focus on the love. True love is patient and long suffering. Most children don’t truly love their parents, not to mention step-parents, until they themselves become parents.
As a step-parent your love should never be based on what your step-children do good or bad. If it is, you would be extremely depressed and discouraged-just remember to focus on the love.You will experience both good and bad behavior, this is normal in all children.
Focus on the good days, I remember one of my greatest days with my youngest. I went to pick him up early and caught him on his lunch recess where he was playing with his friends outside. As soon as he saw me he ran towards me and screamed ”Papa!” All the other kids ran after him because of his excitement and love, but only one other child was brave enough to ask the somewhat obvious question: "Who is that?" See my son is very white, and I'm Nigerian black, the world doesn't put us together easily. But the little boy asked my son “Is that your dad?" Immediately, without hesitation, my son answered: ”Yes, that’s my other dad!” My heart swelled with joy and pride as I heard him. My heart was overflowing with love because I didn't expect my four year old to say that.
To all the step-parents out there, your role is to love unconditionally always-whether you are loved back or not is immaterial. Yes, you will experience your own challenges and great moments alike, however through it all, the greatest thing to remember is that all children-biological or otherwise are truly somebody else’s children;they are all God’s children. We have been given the privilege and opportunity for a season to love and take care of them. Even if your love is met with hatred and hostility, You are loved for loving His children. Look for your own affirmation in Him rather than the temporary good or bad behavior of any child.
I know there are no formal days set aside as step-parents day therefore on behalf of all loving and committed step-parents I declare today, Happy Step-parents day!
Keep up the great work. Congratulations!!
If you would like help or advice, please schedule a free meet and greet and we would be happy to help you through what's going on in your life.