The (Evil) Stepmother.
Gaining a husband and a family at the same time? This is the reality for some women when they say “Yes I do” and “Until death do us part”.
Stepping in a marriage with a man who has children means accepting the huge responsibility of being a stepmother. Depending on the age of the children the stepmother needs to help fulfil the parent’s duties. Depending on the acceptance of the children the stepmother’s life can be challenging.
The stepmom has odds stacked against her even before she fulfill any of her motherly duties, not even the good ones. The culture took care of this already. There is an Evil-Stepmother-Profile ready for such a newlywed. The evil stepmother is so stereotyped in many children stories that most kids grew up with the idea of stepmother being a bad thing. Nobody is looking forward to having a step mother.
A step mother is only needed when there was a divorce or a death. Neither of them are life situations that are easy to deal with. Most children shudder to think about it and this reflects very well in the children stories which are so popular. Look at the fairytales of Snow White, Cinderella, Ella, The Baroness Von Schrader, The Sound of Music (1965) and many more movies. Julia Roberts wasn’t really evil in “The Stepmom” but she wasn’t any good either! A woman accepting the marriage proposal of a man with children is alone facing this mountain of prejudice and not even her newly wed husband can understand her position completely.
I have been praying a lot for such a woman these past days and today it hit me suddenly.
Why…I never realized that Joseph was a stepdad! Jesus was not a biological child of Joseph thus that makes Joseph a stepdad. That means that Jesus was a stepchild too! (If I was a step child I would be happy to know that Jesus was one too.)
Was Joseph a good example of a biblical step parent?
God didn’t make a mistake when He choose Joseph for the difficult task of parenting His son. Joseph turned out to have compassion on Mary and proceeded with the wedding although he and all the people around him knew that the child was not his. In the eyes of his pears he was marrying a fornicator. But he showed Mary mercy.
Apart from compacionate and merciful we see that Joseph was humble. He accepted humiliation when he obeyed God’s wishes to marry someone who was with child.
He did what he had to do, at great cost for himself. He became the stepfather of the Most High. In fact he did his job so well that the people around him probably forgot that the child was not his. We know this from Matthew 13:55. What had the people to say about Jesus? “Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.” They had completely forgotten that Jesus was a stepson! They put him on the same line with the biological sons of Joseph.
Well done Joseph! You was a loving caring compassionate humble step dad.
Now back to the step mom. How can a woman still live, feel happy, and being fulfilled in a marriage with deeply hurt step children? Isn’t it frustrating that the stepchild has doped her evil, even before she did anything? She carries the fame, she gets scorn at, she is insulted, she can feel pressured, in some cases she needs to hear: “You are not my mother” or “You cannot tell me what to do”. How can she deal with her instand family? What can she learn from Joseph?
Just like Joseph was compassionate in his language and his deeds toward Mary so the stepmom can adopt the same qualities. Make a decision to not let harsh words come from you. Not to the stepchildren and not about the biological parents of the stepchildren. Ephesians 4:31 gives us an advice that I think we can begin with, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Stepmom, realize that God showed his love for you before you was saved, yes while you were still sinners, says the Bible in Romans 5:8. Realizing that might help us to be more patient with the step children.
Show mercy: How can a stepmom show mercy for her new children? Any newlywed with children will feel the load of the extra responsibilities. Extra food, extra planning, extra cleaning, extra washing, extra shopping, and never ending house work. Any time a woman can do all this with prayer and thanksgiving in her heart she is showing mercy. I remember how I hated to iron. In the first years of our marriage when I was ironing my husband’s shirts I resented it. Until one day God spoke with me and showed me how to pray for my husband while ironing his shirts. And that is how I redeemed the time and the effort and actually start liking the work.
How can a woman show kindness to her stepchildren? Micah 6:8 Seek God daily for the step children. Ask God to show you their needs. Every one has a need. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Stepmom, step up, you can trust God. Joshua trusted God when he saw the giants. Ruth trusted a God she only had heard off. You can. And with your faith and steadfastness with your humble demeanor with your heart to serve your family, yes even the children acquired through marriage, with a prayerful heart and a prayerful life you will be able to look the giants straight in the eyes and say: My God will do it for me.” And belief it. And live to see it happen.
Stepmom, don’t be an extra burden on your husband. Parents, seek the Lord and stick together, letting this situation make your marriage stronger. The stronger the marriage lesser chance there is that children can manipulate one another. Also true love will shine. Eventually anyone will see that it is there. The stronger the marriage the stronger the family.