The Amazing Step-Parents We Only Have Because of Divorce

by | Oct 21, 2022 | Abuse | 10 comments

Amazing Stepparents After Divorce for Abuse
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When churches and denominations deny people the chance to divorce for abuse, they also deny kids the chance to grow up with amazing step-parents.

I think we forget that. Those who argue so vehemently that abuse isn’t a valid reason for divorce (as Focus on the Family does, and as these 20 denominations do) are focusing on the law, not love. They’re not focusing on the well-being of people, but merely on whether they can proclaim someone godly or not.

And in so doing, by convincing so many women especially that divorce is wrong even for abuse, they deny these women the chance to find love again, and deny children the chance to grow up with two parents.

Of course, they also keep women in dangerous situations. But many denominations (and even Focus on the Family) do say that you should separate. They just say you can’t divorce.

And by saying you can separate but not divorce, they’re saying you can never start over.

(they’re also leaving people in a much more vulnerable legal position, but that’s something for another day). 

This week on Facebook I asked for stories of amazing step-parents, and I was inundated with them!

It was so lovely to read, and I want to share them with you today.

And I’ll start and end with some tear jerker videos.

As you watch these videos, and read these stories, remember: THIS is what Focus on the Family, and what so many denominations, want to make sure kids never experience, by denying people the chance to divorce for abuse.

And here are people’s amazing stories of step-parents:

(I’m sorry I can’t include them all; here are just a smattering of them. My policy on the blog is not to include people’s actual names, even if I know them. My policy is also to change numbers so they’re not identifiable easily. If your story is here and you would like your real name attached, or the correct numbers changed back, just leave a comment and I’ll do it!)

My stepfather was my best friend,my right hand man, my everything. Best grandfather EVER. I spent the last 5 years of his life caring for him at home as we battled dementia. That process screwed me up completely financially, but I regret *nothing.* He stepped in when I was 7 years old and dedicated himself to making my life (and when I grew up, my kids’ lives) amazing. I would have done anything for him. I miss him every day. I think of him every time I hear this song. I aspire daily to be just half the parent that he didn’t have to be.

My mom divorced my father when I was 10 months old. I sure remember the first date that I was allowed to go with my mom when she was dating my dad…and I was a little jerk. We went fishing and I made him take me up to the bathroom like 3 times, and peed out the window of the covered bed of his little Toyota pickup on the way home.

They married when I was 5, and have been married now for 35 years. He is caring for my mom as she recovers from a broken hip.

He didn’t give me his genes, but he gave me his heart and his attention to detail and his work ethic. He taught me how to work on cars and do home improvement and maintenance. He had his problems, for sure, but he was a pretty great dad and I am grateful to have had him in my life these last 40 years. Hoping for many more.

He’s not my stepdad. He’s not my adopted dad. He’s my dad.

Cracks me up when people say I look like him. No I don’t. He’s a swarthy Portuguese guy and I am a pasty white viking. But I sure act like him.

My dad had custody of my younger brother and I when my mother walked out on us, but wanted to be a “mom” at her convenience (she loved us but suffeted from mental illness and drug addiction, along with no Christian values). My Dad eventually remarried to an amazing christian woman I know as my MOM. I can’t imagine the person I’d be of I never had my MOM come into the picture…or who her children would have become without my dad. I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. Without my parents getting divorced, and then remarrying GOOD PEOPLE, I wouldn’t be the parent I am today. My MOM saved me by being the mom she didn’t have to be.

My bio dad started an affair with another woman while my mom was pregnant with me- she fought to reconcile and stay married, but they ended up divorcing. He gave up custody & my mom started dating the man I call “Dad.” My Dad married my mom & adopted me when he was 19. 19!!! I’m so thankful that God brought beauty from ashes. My dad has been the most wonderful father- and he didn’t have to be. (This song has always made me think of my dad!)

My dad (step, though I don’t call him that because he never liked that qualification) was a game changer in my childhood. He taught me how to study scripture and never shied away from any of my questions. I remember watching him and my mom learn how to love each other better with each passing year and at a young age I understood that marriage takes work, partnership, mutual respect and selflessness. I was keenly aware that he chose me as his child, he didn’t have to love me and my brothers as his own but he did. He still does! Being chosen is a powerful thing! He is an incredible man and I am so thankful to have him in my life!

My mom remarried when I was 11 and he adopted me and my brother a year later with his name and everything! I kept my maiden name as my middle name when I got married because my maiden name means so much to me! He was the father I always needed and still love to this day. He was there for 8th grade promotion, band concerts, singing competitions, high school graduation, walked me down the aisle and was present at the hospital for 3 of our 4 girls’ births and 2 of my 3 grandchildren…God blessed me so much with this amazing man who accepted me and my brother as his own children. He sacrificed for us and provided for us…that’s a daddy…because anyone can father a child!

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Then there are the stories from women so grateful for the way their new husbands parent their kids:

I was in an abusive marriage. We had two kids. It was horrible. I tried time and time again to leave. Each time I did my pastor called me and shamed me, asking me what I was doing. Telling me I was wrong. I had fooled myself into believing because he wasn’t hurting my kids it was ok. I was wrong in so many ways. It’s been ages and they still recall. I finally had to say look at this life, look at my kids. My children lived in poverty. I wasn’t allowed to get a drivers license or go to college and get an education. I wasn’t allowed to do anything with my ex tracking my every move. I couldn’t touch the bank. He would beat me at his liberty and laugh about it. I finally got the courage to leave after he’d beaten and humiliated me in ways I don’t care to share at this time.

When I left him I landed in the arms of the most loving, kind, supportive man I’ve ever known. We’ve been married nearly 11 years. My only regret is not leaving sooner and finding him sooner.

He taught me to drive, spoke life to my children and I. Allowed me to access the bank, encouraged me to go to school and better myself.

Together we now have a small army of children. He’s the most loving gentle man. He loves us, prays with us, works hard, loves Jesus and I am so grateful for him and the gift of his life from God.

Divorcing my first husband was one of the greatest decisions of my life. I had really decided that I would just have to be a single mom for the rest of my life because I couldn’t imagine any man loving my kids as much as I did, and the alternative wasn’t acceptable. My current husband stepped in with my kids in a way that I didn’t even know we all needed. He’s been an incredible father to them, the only one they’ve had as a matter of fact. Most people never even consider that my hubby is their step dad. We don’t use the word because he’s just dad and always will be. Without him, my boys would’ve been robbed a wonderful father figure to not only display what an amazing husband and dad is to but to fill the love they needed to receive from an earthly father but didn’t get any other way. Legalism is robbing people of relationships they deserve and is punishing families for choices one person makes. Jesus died to pay the consequences of others. He also did it so that we wouldn’t have to.

I divorced my abusive ex husband of 11 years and have been remarried 4 years to the nicest guy ever. My 3 teens ABSOLUTELY ADORE him and my 18 year old son one day asked me “Mom, how did we get so lucky to find him?” this brought tears to my eyes.

And let’s not forget the perspective of the step-parent!

I am living this miracle as a (step)mom! As it happens, today is my (step) daughter’s 21st birthday, and her older brother is 23. I started dating their Dad (an online match) when they were 9 1/2 and 12… our 11th wedding anniversary is next February. Even bigger blessing as I knew I would not be able to conceive a baby…the ending of my husband’s first marriage eventually became the start of an opportunity for me to be a Mom to two outstanding humans.

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV

I find it so amazing that when the Bible is so full of stories of adoption, too often evangelicalism tries to stop it from happening.

These are lovely stories. And isn’t loving someone when you don’t have to part of the whole point of the gospel? Isn’t a step-parent stepping in when people really needed love, and giving it in a way they didn’t have to, a picture of God?

I know not all step-parent situations work out, and I know there can be abuse from step-parents too, just as there can in any relationship. And I know the rates of abuse are even higher for step-parents than biological parents.

But we can’t deny that MOST step-parents are great, and MOST step-parent relationships are life-giving. These stories are lovely. I hope we think of them next time we argue about divorce, and remember that it’s not about rules. It’s about people.

I’ll end with this song.

How Allowing Divorce for Abuse Leads to Amazing Stepparents

Do you have an amazing step-parent story you want to add? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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10 Comments

  1. Helen

    This is too beautiful for words…

    Reply
    • A2bbethany

      If the like button was active, I think so many people would agree via that!

      Reply
  2. Angharad

    I have a friend who finally left her husband after he beat her up so badly she was unconscious for several days. (He was fortunate he was sentenced for GBH, not murder). She later remarried a lovely Christian guy whose first wife had been abusive to him.

    Not only have this couple been amazing step-parents to each others’ children, they have also ended up fostering 30+ kids over the years. That’s over 30 young lives that would never have been impacted by their care if they hadn’t got together. Recently, one of their first foster kids tracked them down on social media and got in touch to tell them how the memories of the home they provided for her are what she is drawing on as she seeks to provide a good home life for her own kids. So the changes are now affecting the next generation too, and none of that would have happened if this couple had not been able to divorce their abusive spouses and marry each other.

    Reply
  3. Laura

    What awesome testimonies of second chances at love and parenting!

    I ‘m surprised I did not see the Apostolic Church listed as one of the denominations that doesn’t allow divorce. They are a very legalistic church where women are not allowed to cut their hair and cannot wear makeup, jewelry, or pants. I know someone in my hometown who attends an Apostolic Church. She got divorced years ago because her husband committed adultery, but she is not allowed to remarry. She had been a single mother to three young boys when her husband divorced her. That is just wrong that her church won’t let her remarry. But her ex got to remarry his mistress, though I’m sure he left the church in order to do that.

    Reply
  4. À2bbethany

    My grandfather was a rougher man and was good at business. He wasn’t good at relationships. He lost several 10s of millions to divorces. But then he had mostly stopped looking at marriage, just dating. He met Maryln, and She’s been the best and most beloved grandma to us! She proposed to him after a few weeks of dating, because she wanted a family of grandkids to love.
    They got about 15-20(?) Years together, before he died. And she is still the only wife of his, that we ever knew as grandma(1/7). Our bio grandma had mental health issues and I literally only met her twice. Maryln deeply enriched our lives!

    Reply
  5. Nathan

    Wonderful stories, and how beautiful it is that goodness can come after such horror.

    Reply
  6. Patty

    Thank you so much for sharing these stories. I never liked that Brad Paisley song because I attributed it to my ex who adopted children with me and then raped our adopted daughter for years until I found out. I divorced him immediately.
    That was 4 years ago, and I’m so afraid to date again partly because I’ve been told that step-parents are the most likely to sexually abuse children and I can’t fathom the same thing happening to my younger daughter. I can’t fathom a man loving my daughter like his own because it went so horribly wrong last time.
    These stories give me hope that there really are amazing men that will love a wife and children he didn’t give birth to with the genuine love of Christ. I also would be honoured to call step-children my own.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Patty, I’m so sorry for what you and your daughter endured! That’s just awful.

      Yes, some step-parenting situations are horrendous. But not all. I hope you find peace and not loneliness.

      Reply
  7. Karena

    This is such a beautiful and redemptive post! I am shocked that I’ve never thought of this before… the fact that leaving a terrible marriage and then remarrying can result in tremendous blessing, healing and redemption that ripples out through generations! I guess I had always just thought of re-marriage as merely a second chance.

    I am a bit astonished at my own myopic view, as I have a phenomenal stepdad who married my mom when I was 14 and my brother was 6. He had never been married nor had children of his own, but he loved my brother and me like we were his flesh and blood. My stepdad walked me down the aisle at my wedding, along with my biological dad. He is one of the most generous, kind and patient people I have ever met, and I think of him as my dad (not just my stepdad) as well!

    This post reframes the importance and potential impact of stepparents for me. Thank you for this beautiful reminder!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re so welcome, Karena!

      Reply

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