Recently I went to the wedding of Joyce’s youngest stepson, the last of four children to get married.  Joyce is a HERO in every sense of the word.

Divorced as a young mother and later widowed in her second marriage, she raised her two-bio kids along with her two stepkids by herself.  It wasn’t easy, but she’s always been strong and committed to her family.  That says a whole lot about who Joyce is and how she was raised.

Stepfamilies are different.  They have their own set of problems – problems that come out of grief, sadness and loss in their lives.  Joyce’s kids had more than their fair share of losses. They, like others, acted out their anger and grief by being rebellious at home and school and later choosing bad friends and activities.  Frankly, they were horrible at times. They made poor choices… to say the least.  Kids in stepfamilies are often troublemakers.

Over the years, Joyce hung in there. She raised her kids by holding them accountable and disciplining them with consistency and love. She never gave up, although I know at times she was at her wits end.  She took good care of all of them. She didn’t play favorites nor did she reject the particularly challenging ones. She exemplified the expression “when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Slowly but surely, the kids settled down and grew up.  They were smart kids, so when they stopped acting out, they began to focus on more positive activities like sports, science, debate.  One of them was valedictorian in his class.  Things got better over time.  Joyce was determined to provide a healthy environment for the kids, and she did.

The wedding was a joyful event.  Everyone celebrated and toasted Joyce’s family. But Joyce was the real star in everyone’s eyes.  She is the quintessential mom/stepmom who unselfishly devoted herself to her stepfamily without the support of a partner to rely on.  All of her children are very lucky and THEY KNOW IT.  They are supremely grateful and happy.

Susan Wisdom, LPC
Author, Stepcoupling
August 2009

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