“Laura, what do I do with all the ornaments that my husband had with his first wife. You know, the ones that say, ‘First Christmas’ and ‘Mommy’?”
Ah yes, the intricate things we must tackle in a second marriage that we don’t in a first marriage. Ladies, what I’m going to share is going to take courage, compassion, and self control.
You can do this! I promise.
First, resist the enticing temptation to throw them in the trash. As alluring as that thought may be, it’s an extremely bad idea.
Second, they are not your possessions. They came into the home before you were there and they belong to your husband and his children. Speak with hubby about them, and get his opinion. If he says, “toss them” reply, “Maybe your kids will want them one day.” And then re-read point number one.
Third, allow the child to keep the precious items from their childhood and biological family.
That doesn’t mean the items must be front and center on the fireplace or living room Christmas tree. It does mean a stepparent shows love to a stepchild by working towards honoring the child’s family of origin and biological parents, even if they are horrible parents.
KEY POINT: You are doing this for the child, not the adults. That child sees himself/herself as a reflection of that parent. The more you respect the parent, the more you inspire the child. The more you degrade the parent, the more you shame and humiliate the child.
This is extremely hard to do especially if the parent is neglectful, absent, or unloving. No matter what the personal sacrifice, or how many times we must pray, “Jesus I cant do this without your strength. HELP!!” our goal is to create a stable, safe, conflict free home as much as possible.
Sit with the child and say, “I found these special ornaments that belonged to your mom and dad when they were still together. We can get a little tree for your bedroom and you can put whatever ornaments you want on it, including these. Or I can find a nice box to store them, until you get older. Then you can decide if you want to keep them.”
By giving the child a choice to display them if they choose, it allows them to remember, honor and love the other parent. Even if that parent behaves in a way that doesn’t deserve it.
Isn’t that how Jesus loves you and me? If He delivered what I deserve, it would be dreadful.
If right now you just aren’t strong enough to take this huge step, or your spouse refuses, place the ornaments in a box and give them to a trusted friend or family member who can keep them safe until a later time.
Don’t let this ruin the holiday. Keep your eyes n the prize!!
And remember when your stepkids are older and they look back, your willingness to unselfishly preserve items from their biological family will speak more about your character and compassion than any store purchased present EVER could. Build a lasting legacy that shouts, “I loved you enough to take the high road, and make sacrificial decisions.”
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—
of whom I am the worst (1 Timothy 1:15b, NIV).
Copyright © 2017 Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved.
Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on stepfamilies, relationships, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, The Smart Stepmom, co-authored with Ron Deal, 101 Tips for the Smart Stepmom, Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul and Seeking a Silent Night: Unwrapping a Stepfamily Christmas. Her website is www.TheSmartStepmom.com
Join Laura on Feb 24th for a SMART STEPMOM retreat in Gainesville, GA