My husband was a single dad for seven years before we married. After I joined the family, my stepson would frequently wake up in the middle of the night and crawl in bed with us. Although he did have nightmares a few times, my stepson was simply used to being able to crawl in bed with his dad any time he wanted. I grew frustrated with the lack of privacy in our bedroom, but I soon realized that it was a difficult adjustment for both my husband and stepson: they had shared everything for years. It was important to set healthy boundaries for our new family, but it also meant that old boundaries (or lack of them) had to be torn down. Fast forward to when my stepson hit his teens: we were able to communicate healthy boundaries related to his own bedroom privacy (including knocking and keeping the door open or closed) because we modeled it for him from the beginning.
Stepfamilies are inherently built on brokenness. The initial fracture comes from your husband’s separation or divorce. But I believe that there is some re-breaking (and rebuilding) that must be done for your stepfamily to thrive. Just like a physical house, if you build your home on a wobbly foundation, the instability could result in long-term issues for your stepfamily.
As the stepmom, there’s a good chance that you are the first person to call out the brokenness. To your husband and especially your stepkids, it can feel like you’re breaking up their family again…and in fact, you are. You could be correcting unhealthy behaviors from their “first” family, or addressing concerns that have been overlooked as your husband navigated single parent life. Either way, you may get the blame in full force and want to just let it go. But I urge you to see it through, to look past your discomfort and know in your heart that God wants to heal your family.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19
God is the Author of fresh starts. You may be joining a family that is already formed, but don’t believe the lie that you are an outsider or don’t have a voice! God desires to partner with you to build a solid foundation (spiritual, physical and emotional). I have a burden to model a healthy marriage and healthy relationships for my stepkids, to break generational curses and show them how God trades beauty for ashes in very real ways. Whether you have been married for 1 year or 10, I encourage you to seek Him and His heart for your stepfamily.