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Interesting/Controversial Theory or Bull? - Page 2

post #21 of 22
Coming in late, and I don't know any of the OP's background outside of this thread ... just wanted to share my own take on the issue of step-mothering and the parent-child bond.

I met my husband when he was a newly divorcing single father to a 3yo boy. His ex-wife loved her son, but loved her career more. Which is to say, she is a good mother but has never been the primary caregiver. They share legal custody, but my stepson has always lived with his father and me, seeing his mother regularly but not frequently. I'm not judging, I'm just explaining the situation.

I fell in love with my husband and my stepson more or less at the same time. But I was young (24) and knew very little about kids and parenting. I grew into my role as a stepmother gradually. It was several years before DH trusted me enough to let me become the primary on-the-scene day-in-day-out parent to his son. I was grateful for the time to grow into that role.

When my stepson was 12 years old, DH and I had a baby of our own. I spent my entire pregnancy telling myself that I would love both my boys the same. It took me maybe 3 hours of motherhood to realize at the core of my soul that while I could love and treat them EQUALLY, I could not love them both in the same WAY. So yes, in my experience, the step-mothering bond and the bio-mothering bond feel different to this stepmomma and momma.

Would I ever, ever, for any reason, EVER say this to either of my boys? Good heavens, NO!!! It could only be hurtful and destructive. They both call me "mom" and call each other "brother," and I see no point in giving either of them a reason to doubt that status.

More to the point, does a difference in the essence or feeling of my bond to each child really affect my parenting of either child? No, I don't think it does. Love is not a warm fuzzy feeling of the heart. Love is actions. Love is doing the hard thing for the sake of your child's well-being. My ability to love both my boys in this manner has nothing to do with our respective DNA and everything to do with the choices I make day in and day out, for each of them.

My stepson is now 17 years old, about to graduate high school and leave home for college. He doesn't remember a time when I wasn't in his life. He sees me as one of three parents whose love for him is beyond question. I have always made it clear to him that while it doesn't matter what he calls me ("...just don't call me late for supper!" is our inside joke), he is my kid in every sense except the legal and the genetic -- neither of which amounts to a hill of beans at the end of the day.

I have had profound influence on his character development -- he converted to my religion in his teens, shares many of my political views and cultural tastes, and quite regularly seeks my advice or input on whatever issues he is dealing with. I proofread his term papers, cook his breakfast at 5:30 every weekday, nag at him to walk the dog and clean his room, have long philosophical discussions with him when he's in the mood, keep my mouth shut when he's crabby, draw the line and hold firm when necessary, give him my car keys for a Friday night date. When he totaled that car in a careless and scary accident three weeks ago, I was the first person on the scene to reach him and give him a big hug and tell him the car didn't matter, thank G-d he was okay. And after the accident, I was the one who persisted with encouraging him to fill out job applications so he could start earning money to pay the increase in his insurance premiums. I AM HIS MOTHER. One of two, in fact, and he knows he's damn lucky to have us both.

If a so-called family expert who had never met my stepson and had barely laid eyes on me told me what he told the OP, I'd chuckle, walk out, and never look back. I know it is WHOLE lot easier to be confident of what I am doing when the bulk of my stepmothering years are behind me and the kid has turned out very well, thank you. I know I am exceedingly fortunate to have "inherited" a happy and healthy kid from a largely amicable divorce of two reasonably sane and very devoted bio-parents. My situation is beyond ideal. Most step-mothers are not so lucky.
post #22 of 22
You cannot "replace" the childs (natural) mother, nor should you try.

But you can love the child with all your heart and treat her as a full and complete member of your family.

If you love her as your child, then that's what she is to you.

Only she can decide who is her "real" Mommy.
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