photo by Mark Coggins
I know there are all kinds of “blendings” out there. Please don’t think I’m ignoring your situation in favor of focusing on another. I believe the unique challenges in witnessing the gospel to stepchildren can be universally applied.
Back when I worked as an ER nurse I had triage desk duty one shift. I called in a young boy, maybe six years old, who was accompanied by his mom and step dad. He had received a nasty gash on his hand and it would require stitches.
I recognized right away the fear in his face and began the process slowly by interviewing the parents about what happened and talking quietly in a noncommittal way with the child. Eventually, though, I needed to look at the laceration.
The little guy withdrew his hand, vehemently shaking his head as his eyes welled up and his lower lip quivered. He was sitting in his mom’s lap, but his step dad got down on one knee in front of him and gently said, “Let the nice nurse look at your cut. You don’t want me to make you do it, do you? You don’t want me to be your parent, do you? We’re buddies, remember? Don’t make me be your parent. Show the nice lady your hand.”
Those of us who are stepparents find ourselves walking a fine line. We don’t want to step on any toes. We oftentimes struggle between being a parent without the full authority of blood and a buddy who doesn’t require obligations to the relationship.
But as that young boy protectively held his hand away, a look of confusion swept his face in response to the stepfather’s request. At that moment he didn’t need to feel the weight of his fear all by himself nor did he need to be given the responsibility of deciding his level of interaction in his care.
He needed his step dad to swoop him up in his strong arms and say, “Hang on, son. I’ll stay here with you. Let’s do this together.”
First and foremost, regardless of how we got to the position, we are a parent. When we married our spouse we accepted the mantle of parenthood by virtue of default, at the least, and by God’s ordaining, at the most.
That doesn’t mean we can’t develop a friendship with our stepchild. Any parent, step or otherwise, should work towards making the kinds of connections that encourage enjoying each other’s company and where your child feels free to share his or her thoughts and feelings.
Our primary role, however, is as a parent to our stepchild. Incumbent with that role is all the leading, guiding, loving, sacrificing, and yes, teaching that comes with it. We have just as much responsibility to prepare this child for his future, including his eternal one, as any parent.
Let others know about this series. Please email a link, post about it on your blog site, or let your friends know through Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. There are a lot of blended families out there who need this information and encouragement.