Dave Weier considers it pure joy to father three stepsons. When he and his wife, Trena, married, the boys were young—ages 6, 9, and 11. With no kids of his own, he didn’t hesitate to help raise someone else’s kids, although he admits it wasn’t always easy.
Now, 25 years later, Dave is thankful for the loving relationship he has with each of his stepsons. He recently celebrated with the young men, gifting each of them with a special ring and a handwritten card to demonstrate his unconditional love he had for their mom and still has for them. His motivation was simple: “I wanted to honor our family.”
His act of love exposes his humble heart and commitment to his family, which carries a unique story. Years earlier, unforeseen circumstances could have changed his heart about continuing down the road as their stepdad. But Dave never considered quitting the role God had called him to.
A new season
After Dave and Trena had been married seven years, Trena was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, she passed away less than a year later. It was a hard season for all of them. And at that point, Dave knew things might change with the boys, including where they resided. They were now 18, 17, and 13—old enough to have a say as to whether they wanted to continue living with their stepdad or move across country to live with their dad.
In the midst of his grief, Dave’s selfless behavior showed out. He wanted what was best for the boys and said to them, “You have a choice. You can go live with your dad, or you can choose to stay here in Florida with me.” Regardless of their decision, he made sure they understood it wasn’t a competition with their dad.
It didn’t take long for the boys to decide they would stay with Dave—despite the differences that could have torn them apart:
- Dave and the boys were not blood related.
- They were of different ethnicities (Trena was African American).
- Their common link (Mom) had now passed away.
But differences don’t determine longevity in stepfamilies. Dave would tell you it’s commitment, perseverance, and a love for the Lord and His ways that keep you going during hard seasons.
Dave’s stepsons are now well into their adult years and have blessed Dave with a growing family, including seven grandchildren. Dave couldn’t be happier they have maintained close relationships and see each other frequently. They have remained family.
And what were those special rings he presented on the 25th anniversary as a family? Dave gave them his and Trena’s wedding rings as a symbol of their lasting bond.
After hearing Dave’s story, I asked him, “What nuggets would you share with other stepparents to help as they navigate relationship-building with their stepchildren?” He offered three suggestions:
- Give your kids space and freedom to feel whatever they want without taking it personally, if possible.
- Let the biological parent be the primary disciplinarian.
- Perseverance wins the prize.
As stepparents, we need a firm commitment to trudge through the challenges that will inevitably come our way. Very few stepfamilies escape wilderness seasons that might include defiant stepchildren, custody battles, strained relationships, unmet expectations, or unforeseen circumstances. If you don’t determine ahead of time that you will persevere when it gets tough, you will turn back.
Perseverance requires an intentional choice. But with your choice comes reward. Here’s a promise to hold onto: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV). James 1:12 offers another promise: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. “
As a stepdad, you’re important! I pray you will continue to stay the course God has set before you. Rely on God’s strength and power to sustain you—He will see you through on hard days. And just like Dave, you will reap a harvest.
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Gayla Grace serves on staff with FamilyLife Blended® and is passionate about equipping blended families as a writer and a speaker. She holds a master’s degree in Psychology and Counseling and is the author of Stepparenting With Grace: A Devotional for Blended Families and co-author of Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul. Gayla and her husband, Randy, have been married since 1995 in a “his, hers, and ours” family. She is the mom to three young adult children and stepmom to two.