ARE SUCCESSFUL STEPFAMILIES POSSIBLE? YES, ESPECIALLY IF ALL INVOLVED REMEMBER that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) When everyone applies Bible principles, success is virtually ensured.

The Basic Quality

The Bible sets down only a few actual laws to govern human relations. Mostly it encourages the cultivating of good qualities and attitudes that guide us to act wisely. Such good attitudes and qualities are the basis of happy family life.

It may seem self-evident, but it is nevertheless worth saying that the basic quality needed for any family to be successful is love. The apostle Paul said: “Let your love be without hypocrisy. . . . In brotherly love have tender affection for one another.” (Romans 12:9, 10) The word “love” is much misused, but the quality Paul referred to here is special. It is godly love, and it “never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8) The Bible describes it as unselfish and ready to serve. It works actively for the good of others. It is patient and kind, never jealous, boastful, or conceited. It does not seek its own advantage. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope, to endure whatever comes.—1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Genuine love helps to smooth over differences and unite people with very different upbringings and personalities. And it helps to counteract the devastating effects of a divorce or a biological parent’s death. One man who became a stepfather describes his very real problems: “I was often too concerned about my own feelings to analyze the emotions of my stepchildren or even of my wife. I had to learn to be less sensitive. Most important, I had to learn to be humble.” Love helped him to make the needed changes.

The Biological Parent

Love can help in handling the children’s relationship with their now absent biological parent. A stepfather confides: “I wanted to have first place in my stepchildren’s affections. When they visited their biological father, I found it hard to resist the temptation to criticize him. When they returned after a pleasant day with him, I felt terrible. When they had a bad day, I was elated. Really, I was afraid of losing them. One of the most difficult things was to come to terms with the importance of the biological father’s role in my stepchildren’s lives.”

Genuine love helped this stepfather to face the fact that it was unrealistic to expect “instant” love. He should not have felt rejected when the children did not immediately accept him. He came to realize that he may never completely replace the biological father in his children’s hearts. The children had known this man from their earliest days, while the stepfather was a newcomer who would have to work for the children’s love. Researcher Elizabeth Einstein reflects the experience of many when she says: “The biological parent can never be replaced—never. Even a parent who is dead or one who has abandoned the children retains an important place in the children’s lives.”

Credits line: Watchtower 1999 published by Jehovah’s Wittiness