Sunday, May 11, 2008

Interview with a STEPPIE!

Welcome! I have a devotional running today (Tuesday) at Proverbs 31 about step parenting so in light of that I thought I’d interview my stepdaughter to give you some insight on being a stepchild and what that means.

Step parenting is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it has also given me loads of joy!

I hope you are blessed by this. Here goes:

S: Good morning, Carly! Can you tell our readers a little about yourself…your age, what you do, your hobbies, your passions?

C: Good morning, Steppie :) and good morning to all of the readers. I am a triplet 23 years old, and am incredibly blessed with my two amazing sisters. I have an incredible family...my mom, my steppie, my daddy, my two sisters and my little 13 year old step brother (who is not little at all since he is 6'3" now). I graduated from Montreat College with a B.A. in Music Business, and a minor in art. I currently work as the college bookstore manager at Montreat College, and love it! I stay pretty busy as of late but when I get a chance I love creating anything, whether it be a new painting, playing guitar, or writing. God has blessed me with so many different passions. I am most passionate about music and art. I love the idea of creating something out of a mere idea. I am also an avid reader and am truly amazed by the power of words. I love sitting and talking to people for hours asking tough questions and challenging each other in love.

S: As a “steppie”, what is the very best advice you would give to someone who is a new stepparent?

C: There are so many little pieces of advice I could give to a new step parent, but there are two main things I would say. The first, is to stay strong and know that you are going to fight some battles in the beginning as the children may feel as if you are trying to take the place of their mother (or father). I will be honest… Shari and I had our share of arguments in the beginning of their marriage as it was a new and different situation. Children are not used to a new parent figure and know that it will take some time for them to get used to you. The second is to rely on God with this, there is a reason that you are now a stepparent and it is just like life...you are going to have your share of difficulties, but there are going to be so many moments of joy and redemption. Go to God when you don't think you can handle another explanation that you are not taking the place of their mother. Go to God when you begin doubting your effectiveness as a new stepparent. I also would advise talking with your spouse about issues you are dealing with in your new role as a stepparent. It can be a very scary thing I am sure, and your husband should be along side of you supporting you and encouraging you in this!

S: What would you tell someone who has been a stepparent for a while now, but doesn’t have a very good relationship with their stepchild?

C: I guess I would say to take a step back and re-evaluate your role in the child’s life. First and foremost, remember that the stepchild is simply that… a child. I will always be a stepchild to Shari, and she will always be my stepmother. However, our relationship has evolved so much over the years. I look up to her as a mentor and welcome her advice and wisdom as I do with my mother. I think that if your stepchild is older, sit down and talk with them. Ask them how they are feeling and if there is something that they would like changed and what they expect in your relationship. Listen to them and do not get offended with what they tell you...it may hurt your feelings, but do not become defensive to this. I also think that you should tell them how you are feeling and what you expect in your relationship. I would say to use some judgement in this and make sure that you are not blaming them for anything and not offending them.

S: Carly, while you were living at home with us (and your 2 sisters), we shared custody with your mom. You lived with us for 2 weeks, then you all went to live with her for 2 weeks. We had houses less than one mile from each other (planned it that way) so you could all be on the same bus route for school and other activities. Do you think this was best or would you have liked it some other way? (Dave and I married when the girls were 12 years old, my son Luke was almost 3.)

C: I really do think that this was best for our family. It may not be best for all families...but it provided stability for us as we did not have to change schools or anything. I know that it did get tough at times, because my sisters and I felt as if we were unsettled at times as we were constantly moving back and forth...which became too much for me and I decided to stay with my dad and steppie the majority of the time. I still saw my mother and spent time with her, but I slept in the same place. I think the most important thing with this is to discuss what is best for your family.

S: Let’s talk about church and your relationship with God. I remember when you and your sisters were in 9th grade we changed churches because we felt you needed a stronger youth group. Yet, you didn’t want to go (none of you did) and I drove you there and all three of you cried and screamed at me the whole way there! You threatened me with hatred, and said you were never going to speak to me again! Tell me about that as you remember it and how that turned out. Were your dad and I right to force you to go?

C: Haha!! I remember that day...man was I mad at you! My sisters and I refused to go to the youth group...we were scared, and we didn't know anyone there. I didn't understand why you wanted me to go there so bad if I really didn't want to. I remember screaming and crying all the way to the church...and saying that I hated you and never wanted to speak to you again (sorry about that haha). You walked us in and found a youth leader...and asked that person to kind of take us under their wing. When you left I was still so mad and swore I was not going to have any fun at all! Boy was I wrong...I had a blast! I made new friends that night, and could not wait to go back! I look back on that and laugh about it, because I can't believe that I didn't want to go. I never really knew a lot about God before that, even though I went to church with my mom on Sundays...I learned so much and that began my journey of accepting Jesus into my life. I don't know if you were right to force me to go...but I do thank you for it. I know that if you gave me the option to go or not I would have said no, and you knew that...so you did force us to go. I think you used your best judgement and you were right in that.

S: Tell the readers about your relationship with God as it is now.

C: Well...this may be a little long. Even though I started going to church in the 9th grade, I did not become a Christian until the summer before college. I was stubborn and honestly I wanted all the answers before I made a life long decision. I went to a private Christian college, Montreat College in the beautiful mountains of NC. In college is where I really experienced God...I was blessed with such a strong Christian community and incredible professors who integrated faith in all aspects of teaching. I met incredible friends who are more brothers and sisters in Christ than anything. They challenged my faith and my beliefs and helped me understand why I believe what I believe. Shari has also played a very key role in my spiritual journey. She has been a spiritual mentor to me, and has shown me what a woman of God is. I love Jesus with all of my heart and know that I am His child and nothing less. I believe in authentic faith where I openly wrestle and question different aspects of Christianity. God has blessed me with so many things in my life...and I would not change any aspect of my journey that God is leading me on. I am challenged everyday to share God’s grace and love with others. I am passionate about challenging others in love and speaking the Ultimate Truth of God’s Word into their lives. I believe that I stumble towards faith, in hopes of one day walking alongside God.

S: If we could go back in time, what would you change about the way you were raised?

C: You know what...I don't think I would change anything about the way I was raised. Sure there were things in my childhood that I didn't like...but honestly it made me who I am today. I love that I have a Steppie, and a mother... and I love my daddy! I am still a daddy’s girl, but I am also a steppie's girl haha!

S: Carly, please end our time by saying anything else you’d like to about being a steppie…please encourage our readers and give them hope!

C: I want to say thank you, because I know that being a steppie can be a pretty thankless job. Know that you are making a difference in your stepchild's life and it is up to YOU as to what kind of difference you make. I believe that you are a very special woman in taking on the role of a steppie, and even though you will fight battles and probably shed some tears... remember that you are in this child's life for a reason. God has chosen you to be in their life this very instant and you are now a part of their story and journey, as they are a part of yours. Thank you Shari for all you have done in my life! I love you and miss you, come visit soon! :)

S: Thank you so much, special girl….you know how much I love you and am blessed to have you in my life! Readers, if you have any questions you’d like to ask Carly, she has agreed to answer any of those this week as you ask them. So, leave a comment or question for her and she will answer them! I wish I had known a wise girl to ask questions to when I first became a step parent, maybe I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes….so ask away!

Beautiful Blessings, my friends! Shari http://www.sharibraendel.com/

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shari and Carly, I give thanks to God for speaking through both of you -- if I didn't know better, I'd say I wrote this interview! My husband and I have vowed to raise our children (my 3 stepchildren and our little guy) in God's light and love, but it gets discouraging sometimes. This was such a source of encouragement and light. THANK YOU!! THANK GOD!!!

Charlene Kidd said...

Shari,
I am so proud of you and Carly. Thank you for being open with us. I have a couple of friends I am passing this on to.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this blog. It is so hard to find good Christian articles about second marriages and step children. Did you have many issues with step-siblings?

--Margaret
texasmagz@yahoo.com

amanda12281 said...

I received your devotion in my email today, and I just want to thank you... My fiance and I are going to get married soon... He has a seven year old son, and it has been so difficult... I feel like we take a step forward and then slide back... I've been trying to find that balance of fitting into his son's life all while reassuring him that I am just another person who will love him... He's got mom and dad, but I'm an extra somebody that will love and care about him too... It gives me so much hope... Thank-you!!!

Anonymous said...

thank you for this article! i am a mom to 2 daughters, ages 4 and 10 and a stepdaughter, age 17 and stepson, age 12 as well as guardian to my 17 year old sister. we don't see my stepkids much, but how can I bond with them more? Their mom is a hinderence to us getting close. I desperatly want us to be close but I don't feel like they love me at all. Thanks so much

Anonymous said...

First, I just want to thank Carly & Shari for sharing their story. I became a stepmom in 1996 to a 9 year old girl (she was 7 when I met her Dad). She is soon to be 21 and I thank God for her everyday, as she is (and will be) the only child I will have.

Second, to amanda12281, I just want to say continue hanging on to your hope! When kids are that young, they truly don't understand the circumstances around you coming into their lives. Your step-son will go through different stages of adjustment, and over time, will come to understand that you love him too, and want to be there to encourage, support, and guide him....just as his bio Mom & Dad do. Take things one day at a time, always discuss issues with your soon-to-be spouse if something comes up that is bothering or worrying you, and always, always seek God's guidance. God bless!!

Kelly said...

I married my husband 20 years ago when his children from his previous marriage were 11, 8 and 7 years old, so I have many years experience being a stepmom. Advice I would give a new stepmom...although it's hard at times, try not to take it personally if your stepkids don't seem warm and fuzzy and friendly at times...they are grieving the loss of their parents together and even worried about if they love you that it will hurt their mom. I tried to leave the major discipline stuff to their dad too. Just be there for them, be a friend/mentor/aunt type figure, don't try to take their mom's place, don't speak evil of their mom. I have good relationships with all three of my adult stepkids and have six step grandkids too that are really just like my own, even though I didn't have children of my own. And last but not least, pray, pray, pray!!
Kelly

Anonymous said...

I'm neither a mom nor do I have any step parents but I read your devotional this afternoon and I was truly blessed by it. Thank you. I loved the interview with your step-daughter too! I loved how she said that being a steppie is a pretty thankless job.Well I think any mother has that kind of job. With it just being mother's day I feel like I need to go back to my mom and really share with her how much she means to me and how thankful I am for all her hard work...even if I'm married and living out of the house now...she still supports us every step of the way (along with my dad too!)

Thank you for sharing!!
Lisa

Susanne said...

Shari and Carly,
This was great advice. I am a Steppie, too. It's hard, but it is a blessing!

Shari,way to go! Great devo and great blog.

Hugs,

Susanne

Carolina Mama said...

Shari, That's awesome! I'm just a Mommy and yet your words, cheerleader, etc. are true for all of us to strive for each day! God Bless!

Carolina Mama said...

p.s. Carol Kuykendall is a dear friend from our previous church! ;) Great writer and resources.

GOD'S LADIE said...

Shari and Carly, thanks so much for the devotion and interview. I am a mother of 3 sons and stepmother to 3 girls, ages 14, 11 and 10. It has been okay but also tough especially with the 14 and 10-year olds. Their mom is usually very reluctant with letting us see them. The 11 year old has been spending the summer with us since she was 6 years old. In the past, she told some lies and caused some mishaps and it was very hurting. I love them all and just want to be there for them whenever they need anything. How do I break the ice with my 14-year old so that she can get comfortable with me? I thought about taking her to the mall for a girl's day and getting our nails done. Thanks again for this blessed interview and devotion. It really encourages me.

LaTonya/FL