There are times when being a stepparent can serve as an advantage. Children will sometimes share things with a stepparent that they will not disclose to a mom or dad. They also may view a stepmother as an ally or a friend in a way that is very different than a parent.
Recently a stepmother shared with me that her stepson asked her, not the mom or dad, to take the precious photos on his prom night.
“I know if my mom or dad takes them they’ll start crying or embarrass me in front of all my friends.” the 17-year-old stated. “Besides you take awesome pictures and have a great camera.”
“I think my husband felt a little hurt that his son asked me and not his dad to take the pictures,” the stepmother shared. “And although I felt badly that my husband was rejected, I was so touched and excited that my stepson wanted me to take the pictures. I’m normally ‘outside the circle’ in the stepfamily. But this time I was the one chosen to join in the family fun.”
“We had a blast that night as I snapped shots of him, his date, and his friends,” she beamed. “He liked having me there, and the pictures turned out great. Finally, my stepson and I had a unique connection to build on.”
Another stepmother shared a time when her stepson got in big trouble at school. Both mom and dad were unable to pick him up from the principal’s office, so the stepmother did the job. She decided not to chastise him or discuss the incident. Instead, she shared with the young man that his dad would set the punishment when he got home.
Her silence on the subject opened the door for the child to view her as someone he could talk to, and without prompting he shared what happened. She sat and listened, gave him a hug, and brought him a snack while he waited for dad to arrive.
A bad situation was turned into a bonding time between stepmother and stepchild.
I have my own step-bonding experience. When I was 17 my dad and his wife were going to have a baby. I knew my mother was going to be furious when she found out, so I kept silent and never told anyone. The looming explosion was a dark cloud that shadowed my days.
A few months later my stepdad and I had a long drive in the car. For some reason I felt safe about sharing the information and told him about the baby. I explained how concerned I was about my mom’s response when she found out and I asked him not to tell her. He agreed and stuck by his word. My half-brother was 3 years old before she found out!
That was over 35 years ago. He and I still chuckle about it (when mom’s not listening).
The key is to look and pray for those moments when a stepchild might view you as an ally, or confidante, on a subject that he or she might not feel comfortable sharing with the parent. This builds bridges and memories.
Are you a part of a blended family? What has worked for you and your spouse to help the child/stepparent relationship?
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