I’ve been thinking about kittens and step children. You might laugh, but there are lessons here for us step moms to consider.
When Dan and I first married, we moved out to the country. I have a huge fear of snakes and a friend told me to get outdoor cats to keep the critters away. Shortly thereafter, I had five of the cutest kittens. I was worried about them living outside so I decided to bribe them with a can of tuna every morning. It was fun to see kittens come running from every direction as I yelled tu-na, tu-na, in a sing song high-pitched voice. In the months that followed, a bond and trust was formed. Their different personalities and traits also appeared. We had one who drooled when you pet him, one who didn’t like to be pet on his back, one who was skittish, one who wanted to be loved on all the time and one little toot who would almost dance his way to me and get a pet or two and then skedaddle off for adventures and hunting. All different and some difficult, but I learned to love them all differently.
As you can probably guess, this took time but was so worth it. I think back to my own step children and wish I would have ‘bribed’ them better! I did the occasional favorite cookies or candy but I can’t remember being consistent in my pursuit of their affection and love. Your step children need you to be consistent in order to build trust and the relationship that will last from here on out. They are all different and some difficult, so learn to love them differently. Luke 6:27-31 says, “Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.” It’s easy to love someone who loves you back…but your step children may require much more from you before that time comes.
From my five, I now have one cat left and decided I wanted her to become an indoor cat. She was my skittish one, so I bribed some more. I would gently pick her up for just a little pet and some soft, calm words. I would gently put her back down on the floor. I never tossed or pitched her. Even when she yowled and brought out her claws – I still held on to her firmly until I could softly place her back down. That’s how I have handled her for the last couple of years. Now when I hold her and put her back down, her claws are not splayed out. She has learned to trust I will not toss or pitch her harshly. When I’m eating ice cream and she thinks I should share, I don’t shove or kick her away. I have a small noise I make and then gently move her away. When I need to get busy with housework and such and she is snuggled on my lap, I have learned to linger for a bit longer – to enjoy the warmth and joy of the moment.
So you see, kids and cats are pretty much the same. You reach out to them daily and lovingly. You discipline and guide gently and consistently. Sure wish I would have used these lessons more in my own family. I guess I can try again on my grandkids! Blessings in your Blending!