Ever After, the 1998 Cinderella story and the evil stepmother is classic! One of my favorite lines is when the stepmother, Angelica Houston, dismisses the old man that Cinderella just rescued from jail, saying “Go, catch a chicken!” For some reason it makes me laugh, but it is sad that this stepmother doesn’t care that Cinderella is thrilled to have him home; she doesn’t care about anyone other than herself.
This has been my favorite movie for years, but I absolutely abhor the thought that stepmoms are characterized this way. When my husband and I first got married almost 12 years ago, I was determined that we would NEVER use the word “step” to describe our family's relationship with each other. I hate the idea that this image of a selfish, cruel parent comes to my mind for my role, and I didn’t want my son to ever call me stepmom!
So my husband and I made a conscious decision that we would always refer to our boys as our boys. When people ask us about our kids, we tell them we have three boys! It has been a priority for us to use this language because we never wanted the step children to feel they didn’t belong, or were less important to either of us.
Step into reality
Recently, a simple conversation, at the end of the school day, turned into a moment that snapped me back to reality where all this is concerned. When I asked Lucas to tell me about his day, he told me about a form he had to fill out in class listing his family members, and our relationship to him. It was like a slap in the face when he told me that he checked the stepmom box for me!!
This truly is a silly thing to get upset about, but it hit me hard! My first reaction was hurt; then I was scrambling to think of a way to get the school to change that crazy form! I mean, how dare they not recognize that they were going against our family beliefs!?
THEN, somehow, I was able to produce a normal, calm response, and said, “oh, that’s the best answer I guess.” His simple response was “yeah.” That was the end of the conversation, but my feelings were SO hurt, and he had no clue! It isn’t a conversation that I’ve ever had with him, but he will never realize how awful I feel if I catch myself explaining to other people that he’s my stepson. I want him to feel as much mine as my other 2 boys, and saying step just implies the opposite to me…
...children and adults often find themselves disagreeing because of contrasting viewpoints. For example, adults sometimes object to labels like “stepfamily” or “stepparent” because they make them feel second-class or evil. However, kids use these exact terms quite freely to describe what seems obvious to them. ~ Ron Deal, A Matter of Perspective
When you are in the middle of raising kids, there are so many battles to fight, but I don't think one of them should be for the school to fix that form! When you mix in the step factor into parenting, you are often times facing obstacles that literally, only Jesus can overcome!
Blended families don’t blend just because you want them to; rather, they clearly start out as “stepfamilies” and cook very slowly until a blending of relationships, identities, traditions, purposes, and hearts occurs. ~Ron Deal, Talking Blended
In my world, there is no step about it. Sometimes it’s necessary to use these terms to define our family dynamics to help people understand us a little deeper. I hope one day he will appreciate all this, and realize that I tried my best! I am far from a perfect mom/stepmom, but with the strength of Jesus behind me, I can love this boy that is both mine and not mine!
But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all your works good. ~Psalm 73:28
How do stepfamilies handle stress? How do you choose between spouse and child? Learn powerful, practical tools to build YOUR successful stepfamily from world renown expert Ron Deal!
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