Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
Being a parent is hard. You do everything you can to raise your children to be productive members of society. While doing so, you also have to deal with their various personalities and moods, their attitudes and their needs and wants.
I can’t say being a step-parent is more difficult because I don’t have anything to compare it to. I think, maybe, there are just different challenges. By the time I became a parent, my kids were 6, 7 and 11 years old. Maybe the fact that I don’t have any biological children made it a little harder. I didn’t ease into parenting, it was thrust upon me and I accepted it wholeheartedly. Please don’t think that I’m complaining or anything like that, I’m just explaining the situation so that you may better understand where I’m coming from. It was my choice to accept my husband’s three children as my own. Their father and I have been raising them together, with little to no participation from their biological mom, since we gained custody of them ten years ago. Their mom, well that’s another story for another time. My point is, in our family, I have been mom for what seems like always.
In the beginning, it was a little rough. Everyone knows how kids can be. They are kids, they aren’t supposed to act like adults, think logically. So, we are going to focus on me. I struggled quite a bit and in all honesty, I still struggle. I am struggling now. Being a mom (that didn’t give birth to her children), I had a lot of fears regarding how they felt about me. Bottom line is, I’m not their real mom, so they don’t HAVE to love me. This made punishment extremely difficult.
Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. – Proverbs 13:24
Don’t get me wrong, I did my parental duty and punished my children, when needed. I just always worried that they would stop loving me, or even worse, they would hate me. Now that they are older, I only worry about how one of them feels.
My relationship with my oldest has always been a little strained. I always did what I thought was best for him. I’m sure, to him, it just sounded like nagging. I’m sure I made him feel like he never did anything right. I’m sure the times I told him I was proud of him didn’t compare to the times I made him feel bad about himself; even if it wasn’t intentional.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. – Colossians 3:21
I sure hope I’m wrong, but I feel like I drove my oldest away. He’s now an adult, but he’s struggled his whole life. He’s struggled with growing up, with responsibility, with ambition and with laziness (his word, not mine), among other things. I’ve tried making things easy for him by doing things for him. I’ve tried letting him do things on his own. I’ve tried yelling and I’ve tried talking rationally. I’ve honestly tried everything I could. Through it all, I’ve always reminded him that I love him and I want what’s best for him.
So, where are we now? A few random texts here and there. I’m worried about him and I have no idea how he’s doing. But, I don’t know how to fix it. That’s the part that’s killing me. I am a fixer, I want… no, I need to fix everything! And this, I can’t.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10
I have faith that God will strengthen my relationship with my child and that in order to do that, we have to face this current struggle. I have faith, I really do; but sometimes, when things get really hard, my faith wavers. I sometimes worry that my relationship with my son will go up in flames. No matter how hard it gets, I just pray that he knows I want nothing but the best for him and that I love him with all my heart.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. – Psalms 127:3