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When Stepparenting Gets Hard

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
March 3, 2022 9:00 pm

When Stepparenting Gets Hard

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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March 3, 2022 9:00 pm

Hope to break your blended family's invisible walls? Author Laurie Polich Short & husband Jere offer ideas from the path to doggedly love their stepfamily.

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Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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Because step parenting is such a sacrifice in so many ways you're walking into a pool of hurts. I divided family and you are going to get some of that spilled on you.

Welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most and Wilson and Andre Wilson that you can find us if it we live or on our family life app.

This is family life today that I have him elected a we get to listen around deal from his family life blended podcasts which comes out every two weeks. Yeah, if you're not listening to it. You need to subscribe because it's really really good content and we get a practical that we get to listen to a conversation Ron had with what I think a lot of families feel. I know I felt it when my dad got remarried. Where do I fit Hattaway step into this family. I'm thinking especially myself the finest stepmom and you have a family already established with your new husband and he has kids you're wondering like what's my place. Where do I fit down so the day Ron interviewed Lori and Jerry assured Lori stepped into a family already established she's single with no kids comes in this family and her analogy of what that felt like it is very true, Lori. The opening line to the introduction of your book says. My stepson gave me permission to write this book that was great. And by the way, there's a picture of the three of you Jerry and your stepson Jordan in the front of your book I think is on the wedding right it is in that picture embarrasses my stepson greatly point old was Jordan when that wedding day picture was taken. He was six years old. Okay, Jerry. How old is he now is 17 almost 18 or so it's been a few years since you guys married you say in your book that becoming a stepparent is like standing on the edge of a pool, wondering how far you should go in and tell me about that. Was it like for you well analogy for me came from thinking about what it's like to stand on the edge of a pool when there's a bunch of people in it and certainly when you are becoming a stepparent what I say in the book is that the pool is essentially full when you get in and that can be cause to pause and say how far do I really want to get in and I know that because step parenting is such a sacrifice in so many ways you're walking into a pool of hurts. I divided family and you are going to get some of that spilled on you at some point, so I know that it's very tempting to say I'm not going to give my whole heart to this because it's going to be broken and as CS Lewis wisely says about love your heart is always broken and it's only valuable.

The more you give of it and that's the really the mystery of step parenting is that God provides. What you need, but you do feel at that moment when you're starting do I want to get in here and I kind of talk about how if the children in the pool are young there waving at you wanting you to come in if they're older and this is I just think that stepparents of teenagers are so brave there. They could very well be, you know, ignoring that you're even there. And that is a hard wall to break through and yet the whole premise of the book, as I believe that unconditional love. If you can get it and if you can persevere and that it will make a dent. It will change that child whether you see it. Years from now or immediately it will make a difference.

Jerry where were you in the pool. She joined the picture in those early phases of you're in the pool if you analogy, that's a good one. You are already in the pool. She's now approaching was at work. Well of course I wanted her to drive right and be a part of the motion for every moment and also her background to use ministry never seen the fruit of the as well in the relationship, trust, understanding kids to the more she is been one to save the ideal partner to come into this relationship. Seeing that so many times along the way.

Just, and that's maybe the outside voice looking and seeing things you don't. But I will say though, I thought for sure when Jordan was a teenager.

Those would be my best years. I didn't know what I was doing when he was six years old and I even talk about in the book that I went over to my friends house who had a child, the same age just to see if we could be together with so I had no idea what to do. But ironically, Ron the teenage years have been my most challenging with Jordan because it's been in this season that he's really understanding his situation and we've gone through a lot because of that, so it is ironic, but I thought because I was youth minister all know exactly what to do once he's a teenager you know that I experience what every other parent did that was in my office crying on my shoulder cuts what I did exactly you know what it's interesting you brought that up because I flagged a section of that last chapter, we have a dialogue with Jordan and there was something that jumped out at me about how in the teenage years. There was a switchback that is pretty characteristics of teenagers with stepparents you know if you come into their life with her very very young. You tend to be mom or dad and you really treat you well and there's a lot of love and shared and then the teenager said, sometimes the kids pull back a little bit. So here's where that little dialogue went for you Lori, you said, as you look back you talking to Jordan was a hard having two moms did you feel any conflict about balancing us both. After little bit of silence. Jordan says I think it wasn't difficult until later on.

At first it was easy because life is simple as that small kid point of view. Yet life is simple.

Once I got in the six grade become started getting difficult because sort of like a conflict of interest, especially because you guys had a lot of different rules that were different than the ones that I had a mom sells very different expectations. It was to completely different households and then you say okay I want to ask you about that later, but I was referring to loyalty that you might've felt toward your mom to that affect your relationship with me and Jordan says yeah you were always kind of second to her because she was my mom so that was always a thing if she set a rule and you set a different rule. I tend to follow hers right so I think we see and that this dynamic of becoming a teenager's got his own worldview to start think differently about life and circumstances and you and your place in his world was a natural loyalty that existed with his mom and just different rules did you feel that being second thing that he referred to, because we raise him.

He's with us most of the time he has been with her 7 to 8 weeks each summer up until coveted. It was really his teenage years and technology advancing the way it did, so now there's face time there's group chats.

There is all of that going on and he never made me feel second in terms of my discipline which I feared. I feared that I would one day say something he didn't like and he would say you're not my mom, and it would just kill me, but I prepared myself for that because I you know, I know how hard it is to be a parent of a teenager anyway biologically or otherwise. They go through a lot and being a youth pastor I heard so many parents in pain through those phases, so I was prepared and that has not happened. However, there have been many times, one of which I referred to in the book where I have heard from his room.

Peals of laughter on a conversation with her and all kinds of warmth and find she's the friend, the powwow, the one that he can just chat with on the phone. The one who has to discipline him and and do some of the harder things is you know in my caricature perspective, the wicked stepmother and so I think because I'm a four on the anagram and very emotional.

It's been more internal for me where I felt these things that I haven't necessarily articulated to Jordan, but I definitely felt them and Jerry and I have the kind of relationship I can cry on his shoulder quite a bit about that but that is been the painful parts of this is that I raised you, but you're not my biological child sounds like when you hear him having those moments with his mom that the longing of your heart is man I wish I could be in the middle of that you have absolutely I can't even tell you how many times Jerry and I would be laying down next to each other holding hands, and I said I wish I could just put them in my tummy because I never did have a child and that was our choice at the beginning not to pull out all stops. I'm sure we could have done it done more to make that happen biologically, but we just felt very strongly that God had given us this child to raise. He was the right age for us and he needed us and so in a way I accepted that is God's call in my life. This is going to be the mom that you are. It's not the package that you prayed for, but this is the package I've given you, and there's going to be a reason for this, and of course all of this is because of that embracing of that call so those are my little sadness is and I know Jerry has felt those as well with this step kids. This is family life today and were listening to the family life blended podcast with Ron deal and he's interviewing Lori and Jerry short. I thought that was great what Lori said because she said this is what she prayed for, but God had given her something different and it was her calling. I think we can all relate to that, like await my experiences and wanting. I was hoping for but when we can turn it and see it is God's calling that takes us to a different place that whether in a blended family or any state in life. There's that moment. You have to decide how my going to accept the life God's given me this beautiful bit. She gets to that point. But as we know there's probably a lot of stuff swirled around the middle that family. It's so complex and it's complicated and that's my thought the pool analogy was so perfect just because of there are a lot of different people in the pool and you trying to figure out where do I fit in and I just like the way Ron always gets really practical in helping families know this is what you can so go back to the pool.

I want to go back to that swimming pool analogy just for second because I feel like there's such a good analogy, so juries in the pool on day one with Jordan and Lori are approaching the side of the pool trying decide to go on the Pandora Jerry saying you die. Then, scope the way I'm aware, at least from Jordan's point of view. Biological mother is also in the pool. There's a pool of hurt their other family members that are connected to the pool or sitting on the side with her toes in her something you find room Lori and where you step in for like if you were talking to somebody who's just beginning journey.

One of their first steps would you tell them to be watchful of and wary of what would you tell them not to do well.

There's so much in that question Ron but yes all of those people are in the pool and the exes are in the pool and I think that's the first thing that I want to say to stepparents is that when you are marrying your spouse.

You're not only marrying their children, but you are marrying their past in a very real way, because you are going to be negotiating with these people all throughout your child's upbringing and like I say, you can either open your door and put out the welcome mat or have your door shoved in but this is going to be part of your little family and I will tell you if there ever was an ideal little family and that's why put that picture at the beginning of the back all everyone thought oh my gosh, they're so cute a look at this little threesome and it's really not threesome. It's all of the other people that are in Jordan's life and is what is so important for a stepparent to know is that your child's health depends on your openness to these other people that have to be a part of their life in order for them to be healthy. That has probably been the most challenging is because certainly getting in the pool involved a relationship with somebody that probably would've preferred.

I wasn't in the pool. Initially, however, I know there has been some gratefulness along the way. We haven't had the kind of coparenting relationship that some families have a right I talk about this. I know you do too. Ron, that there's lots of different models left to say that we vacation together and were all one thing I happen and I swimming pool is full.

When that happens. For us, that wasn't a reality.

I think a lot of people is that desk you are so lucky that they were not even in this country. It was literally what you say figuratively. The child has citizenship in two different countries and that was absolutely true for Jordan heat when he left here. He went to a different country and different family a different set of values a different everything so getting in the pool was trying to make sense of a pool of people that really were all on the same page and not to mention all the step kids that Jerry had and this pool of lots of different dynamics. I think actually helped us because we were just dealing with one difference.

Me being a stepparent and one divorce. It was actually Jerry was a second spouse, you know.

Now she's married to 1/3 spouse and I my first spouse and and we have these kids that are from different combinations of people plus were both step kids. Both of our parents are divorced and were saying we want to do this differently.

We want to be committed. We want to have a marriage that's committed. We want to have kids who love us and who are healthy and whether they're related to us biologically or not this is what we want and so was my desire getting in the pool. It's been more complicated. Think also to she talks about jumping in the pool or how much you have to really look at the child to work. Jordan says not last chapter about going there trying to replace the parent you know you need to become a friend. First, you need to show looking at the child and what stage of your agent is crucial to how to approach and how much to jump through cannonball on a teenager will over so okay so as I listen to you. In keeping with the title of book to be grace filled as you going to this pool and consider all the other characters that are connected to it. You have to be inclusive. You have to be open I think is what I hear you saying that you have to consider them and know your place in light of who they are. I guess the alternative would be to be possessive and try to be in control of the relationships as you want them to be and try to marginalize the other people connected to the pool and I'm sure you guys would say that would be a catastrophe. It would be and yet it's a huge temptation.

I will speak as the one parent in the mix that never had a biological child that I deal with that in myself and I'm pretty honest about that in the book all the time because from day one. Jordan has wanted me to cuddle with him. I'm the one he asked for when he was little. It was clear to me that I was stepping in to a wound but it filled my mommy heart was so much joy and hearing even in the interview that he said well you are just a mother figure at that time all I would like to, you know dart in my heart even though I know that's not fully how he feels, but it is true Ron you have to make room you have to make room for that other parent in the child's life Jerry Lori in her books and step parenting is a marathon not a sprint, and the first few years will demand you accommodate people's grief and feelings. I wanted Jerry from your point of view. What kind of grief did she have to accommodate will for sure. The obvious one is when Jordan's mom moved away to Australia but grief about abandonment really good. She's probably only really looked out and dealt with over the last maybe couple years and have seen the effects internally of what that was like. So Lori had to step up and absorb up and there were times when it was funny when we when he rejected really sorry about a dog that we have in the house with his biological mom were living there. He was close with a dog but it was like every sad thing that would pour out of him. She would put on this dog, and she would just weep about like work really old but close.

But you know, so we kind of pointed that as a way that she would release some of the grief. Some about knowing stuff that he was feeling it would come out as so you know we always waited to hear the tire cry come out of him every once in a while I do think that's insightful. I do think kids, displace their feelings onto something neutral, something safe, rather than directing that directly at Laurier taking it out on her, which is what some kids do some blister right now is going.

That's what like it does they take it out on us when it's really pain about the other household or something going on with the other parent. But we are the easy targets because were the ones that are here. Number one, number two were the ones that are stable. Kids will lean harder on a stable tree and they won't step on a twig. It's about the break. They know the difference.

And so in a way it's a backward complement when kids can't give you the grief that really belong somewhere else.

All of that to say it's hard to bear up under that sometimes it's true. I was kind of the relationship of the turnover occurred between my stepdaughter and myself about art, crumbled.

She she took out a lot of her anger not contributed to it for sure when everything was splitting up and learned everything but for almost 3 years. She didn't speak to me but people say that I was the safe one to be mad. She was really mad at her mother who moving away, leaving her back here as well, but I was the safe one because she knew that I was stable and unconditional about my my love for her. I will also tell you that as she's gotten older and now 30 years old.

Her perspective on the situation has helped us so much to ample to affirm everything that we believe in.

And no, and that Jordan will know so much more when he's an adult I think stepparent has to say that to themselves every single day of their parenting. You are not the end of the story and your child is doing things now that are not representative of the truth or what he or she will one day feel and you just have to know that see you you're not tempted to talk about the other parent or talk about what's wrong or talk about things that really the child shouldn't have to internalize because the child will always be loyal to their biological parents. No matter what they do or say and you just have to hold onto God and hold onto the fact that some day your child will have a different perspective and Jerry's daughter doesn't even fully share our faith perspective that she understands so much more now who Jerry is and was in her life and has filled us with her affirmation and love and and told us many times Jordan will now Sunday and she's just been great. I love the advice tell yourself your story with this child is not yet over. We will listen to the family life blended podcast with Ron deal were interviewed. Lori and Jerry assured what a great ending perspective of tell yourself your story with your child is not over. That is so important for repair to remember. I think that really takes trusting Jesus in the eyes on him yet.

Here's the thing we just heard a little clip of me that wasn't the whole bike as you can go to Seville vodka's go here the ins and outs of the end of this story, but I tell you what it was a beautiful picture of God being in the middle of the chaos of a family.

This one being a blended family and meeting us in meeting our kids every step of the way. And that's true even when you don't see the end of the story. It you coming from a blended family myself.

I know the complications and the craziness that can happen when you take two families and blend them when you have step kids and stepparents and biological kids in biological parents.

And it's always a helpful reminder to know that God can continue to work in the messiness of blended families. We've heard just that from Lori and Jerry short and a great reminder to know that God works and we can see redemption and continuing restoration happen in our families when it's difficult for us to view right now.

Lori short has written a book called grace field step parenting help and hope for this unique and loving role that is available in our family life resource Center.

We encourage you to check that out. You could go to family life to order your copy reserve one or you can call us at 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today to reserve your copy of this incredibly unique and helpful resource. And speaking of blended families blended and blessed is coming very very soon. The uniqueness of this year is that it's a one day live event happening on April 2 in Houston Texas but it's also a lifestream event for stepfamily couples, single parents, and dating couples with kids. The beautiful thing as well is that you can attend live.

You can stream it anywhere in the world in English or in Spanish so we encourage you guys to log on to family life you can learn more about the blended and blessed conference that's happening where you have speakers like Ron deal Kathy Lipp Gayla Grace join us for our sixth annual blended and blessed where this year we will explore the beauty and challenge, and art of living in the midst of a stepfamily creating what we can call a family masterpiece. For more information. Again, you can or you can give us a call at 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today and thus can wrap us up for this week.

If this content today or any of the family life programs have been helpful for you we we love you to share today's podcast with a friend or family member. And while you're there can really advance the gospel effort of what were doing it for me life if you scroll down and rate and review us as well.

We hope that you have a great weekend world hope that you're able to gather with your family and worship in the local church and we hope you can join us again on Monday as pastor and author Gary Callaghan to be talking with Dave and Ann Wilson about what it means to be pure in heart.

He's getting encourage us in healthy and empathetic community in the context of wrestling was sent on behalf of David and Wilson.

I'm Shelby Abbott will see you back next time for another edition of family life to today is a production of family accrue ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most

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