Sunday, April 01, 2007

What if I don't have strong loving feelings toward my stepchildren?

Many stepparents confess that they don't have deep feelings for their stepchildren. Some assume that the love they feel for their new spouse will automatically create loving feelings for their spouse's children. As many stepparents find out, however, feelings of love for stepchildren are usually not so easy or natural. As a result, some stepparents feel guilty for not "loving" their stepchildren as much as they think they should. They try harder, but often it's met with more disappointment and guilt.

It's comforting -- even freeing -- to know that stepparents aren't obligated to feel strong attachment to their stepchildren. While affectionate feelings are ideal in relationships, they are not necessary to cultivating healthy relationships with stepchildren.

Our actions of love and service on behalf of another family member are more important than our feelings. Stepparents can make choices to love their stepchildren in tangible ways, even if they are not experiencing the warm feelings they wish they had. What matters most in a family are the acts of love demonstrated through serving one another, not the feelings of love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (New Living Translation)

4. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud

5. or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

6. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

7. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1 John 3:16-18 (New Living Translation)

16. We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

17. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

18. Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.


It's also important to treat stepchildren with grace. That includes those who are distant, angry, and difficult to live with. Extending grace doesn't mean that we overlook problems. Instead, we treat our stepchildren the way we want to be treated, with respect and kindness.

Matthew 7:12 (New Living Translation)

The Golden Rule

12. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

Philippians 2:3-4 (New Living Translation)

3. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

4. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.


We give them the discipline and guidance they need, remembering that we, too, were once their age. Even during the difficult times, stepparents should do what is right and fair for their stepchildren.

Proverbs 1:3 (New Living Translation)

3. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.

Proverbs 21:3 (New Living Translation)

3. The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 (New Living Translation)

13. As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.

An attitude of truth with grace fosters a healthy relationship between you and your stepchildren.

Relationships are complex and for a range of reasons, some stepparents and stepchildren don't grow close. Even so, you can be the kind of stepparent who loves his or her stepchildren through acts of service with an attitude of grace. Your loving actions, with or without the loving feelings, honor your stepchildren, encourage warmhearted rapport and model the tender heart of Jesus Christ.

Written by: Allison Stevens

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What a powerful word by Brother Allison Stevens. I pray that all of us will apply these principles to our daily lives.

Blessings to all,

CJ

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