I love you.  Each child hears these three words each night before sleep wrestles those busy little minds, and bodies, into angelic slumber.  Why are they not this darling all of the


Each morning Doc and I make breakfast for the children – bacon, eggs, biscuits, orange juice, milk – at first they all came to the table excited as Christmas morning for such a

spread of food.  But the teens were the first to become sour at having to spend time with family that did not feel like their own.  Then the younger ones began to carp that the

cooking was not up to the standard of their mother’s. Once they were in their teen years most of the breakfast was now scraped into the garbage or fed to the dog.  Well, at least the

dog loved me!

It is so easy to confuse appreciation with love.  Love is confusing in a stepfamily and can frequently be watered down by expectations not met.

I wanted my children to know that this blended stepfamily was a safe place, where they were loved and where their needs were met.  Doc wanted his children to have the peace of

knowing that someone was always at our home with good food, kind words and affection for them.

Isn’t it funny how the most important goals that we try to achieve are the last ones to be realized?

The most important information that we want the children to know is that they are loved, valued and wanted!  However that does not mean that they will love you back, want you,

or care how you feel about them or anything else!  At times it seems to be guaranteed that if you like it or want it, then they are going to not like it and insist that it is not a part of

our lives.

This is where I begin to pull my hair out at the roots and double up on the chocolate!

How do you love people who are seemly opposed to being shown love?

Love, true love, takes time.  Love is not always a feeling, but a commitment.  Be committed to showing love no matter how much they resist.  It is the blending of people

like blending of ingredients, hoping, praying that all will come together into a hardy stew.

What does that look like?

Remember that you are an adult and behave as one, do not time warp back to junior high school and feel the need to set things straight, with a smart-alec comeback.  Love is kind,

and gentle with its answers, and sometimes – silent.

When they are acting unkind, hateful and disrespectful, love them enough to pray that they get caught in their actions by the parent and appropriate action will be taken!  Pray for

their heart to have eyes that see and understand, and eventually respond with love.

You show love by not keeping score about when you are wronged by your children as well as your spouse’s children.  Put on you big-girl panties and take the action that only your

life experience can provide.  Love them, as you want to be loved, and, do it without expectation of love in return.  This is difficult, even with Christ going before you.  But Christ does

not yoke you to the responsibility of perfect results.  Christ invites you be a part of the answer to a problem, by loving as He has loved you, flaws and all.

Love might tell the offender:  “When you talk this way it hurts our relationship and makes your dad and mother look like bad parents, and we both know that they are good

parents.”  Love always makes positive comments concerning the ex-spouse/other parent.  Also, try to always find reasons to say something positive about the child to their face,

and about them in front of others. Make sure it is true and not exaggerated; otherwise you come across as insincere.

Love is a Crockpot as opposed to a skillet.  Love takes time; it needs to simmer for all of the ingredients to blend together.  Then again, no matter how long you cook the ingredients

some spices are just going to stay pungent!  You know what I mean?

Granted I cannot give you an exhaustive lesson on loving as a parent of stepchildren in one blog. But remember, you are dealing with wounded people who do not have the maturity

and life experience to handle the mess and decisions made by their parents.  They are grieving for their original family – even if they are crazy about you, they grieve, and for many

years respond from their place of wounding.

Love through the wound.

You are not responsible for their happiness or their choices.  Let me rephrase, you cannot make people fully happy or make them choose wisely, it is not your job.  But loving as

Christ has loved you and me in all of our faults, failures, and fear is your job.  Remember, you may be the only example of Christ in their lives.  Whether they have twenty, or just

one example of Christ’s love, they will watch you closely to see if your love is real, unshakable and trustworthy.  Persevere in Love.

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three: but the greatest of these is love. (1Corthinthians 13:13 NASB)

And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.  (Galatians 6:9 NASB)

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Diane W. Bailey is the founder of The Consilium – an online community of wisdom and purpose for women over 45 years of age. She is a published author. Her books include String of Pearls – From Tears to Treasure, and 30 Days To A Better Stepfamily. She creates her own line of precious metals bracelets. Diane lives in the Deep South with her husband Doc. Together they have created a stepfamily, each having two stepchildren and two birth children, and share three grandchildren, one black lab named Charlie and one long haired tabby cat named Lil Girl. Diane’s passion is to encourage women to be all God has created them to be by pressing past fear and daring to live life as an adventure. Some of her life adventures include traveling to Israel, speaking, entrepreneurship and backyard farming with Doc. She loves Gumbo, fried shrimp and seeing all sunsets across water.

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