Did you/do you automatically love your stepkids? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-23-2010, 08:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've poked around a bit on this board, but admittedly haven't read every thread so please excuse me if this has been discussed already. Also, I apologize for the long back story.

Dp and I have been together for three years now, we have a child together who is almost 11 months old. I have a 5 year old dd from a previous marriage and Dp has two kids, a 5 year old and an 8 year old.

My ex and I separated when my dd was one-ish. I moved to another state and it was "just dd and I" for a long time. We went through some very hard times/changes together and have a VERY strong bond.

Enter Dp. We were best friends in high school and stayed friends throughout our lives. We began a romantic relationship when dd was two-ish. Dd and his kids get/got along wonderfully. They all seemed to really click and there are/were no major issues. They have really grown up together. I've felt pretty close to them at times, of course I love them and care about them. Their mother is very active in their lives and they live with her a bit more than 50% of the time whereas dd only sees her dad once or twice a year.

Since I got pregnant with dd #2, I've felt sort of confused about my "place" with them. I figured it was just hormones and exhaustion at the time, but now that dd #2 is 10 months old, I still feel that way, only more so. The baby is still up many times in the night so I am very tired most of the time and I think sleep deprivation is getting to me. I guess, in short, I feel sort of resentful of them. I feel like everything is more work when they are here (they are very picky about dinner choices to give one example) and that there just isn't the quality time with dd #1 when they are here. When they leave, it's like a tornado hit the house - even if they've picked up their toys or whatever - everything still feels like mayhem to me.

At this point, I dread when they come. When they are here, it sort of feels like we split into factions - Dp and them and my dds and myself. I think this is all in my head because no one really acts any differently, but I do think they are starting to tip-toe around me because I'm always crabby. I just can't get to a better spot with this.

Mama to Maia (12/04), Nora (9/09), Sam (8/12) and Step-mama to Aidan (3/02) and Luci (10/04).

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Old 08-23-2010, 11:53 PM
 
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I don't know if this will be popular to admit to, but yes, I have felt like this and do feel like this at times. Now being one of them! Dsd just went back to her mom's today. Dd was exhausted, I had an awful time getting ds to nap, and I found myself picking dsd apart in my head and feeling incredibly resentful that I have to pick up the pieces and start over getting into a routine once a week or so. (She is with us just under 40% of the time). Dp keeps insisting that it is easier for me when she is here because she and dd play together and I just want to scream at him that it is most definitely NOT easier!!!! She definitely brings a certain amount of chaos to our daily routine.

I also totally get the "factions" thing. At bedtime, dd, ds and I snuggle on the couch while dp puts dsd to bed in her room. This happened for lots of reasons but it does make me a little sad at times. As dd has gotten older, there is a lot more of dp taking the girls out while I am home with the baby, so some of the division is getting better, but I do feel at times that dd and ds are mine and dsd is his (he is the bio-father of all the kids though). Weird dynamic.

I am pretty sleep deprived and stressed out too

It is really easy to get bogged down in the downside of having stepkids/being in a blended family. There are really sucky parts for everyone. BUT, that said, dsd really is a great kid and I love her. I didn't automatically love her, I grew to love her, and yes, I will admit that in all honesty I love her differently than I love the kids I gave birth to. Maybe it is because I am with my bio-kids every single day (pretty much 24 hours a day) while I am very used to "letting go" of dsd that keeps me a bit more distant. I think it is a lot of things, but I really do love her and dd absolutely adores her sister, as I'm sure ds will as he gets older too.


So I have my bad moments (definitely did a lot of snapping out loud and ranting and raving in my head this weekend!) but I do try to remind myself of how great dsd is and to be grateful that she is part of our lives. This is not always easy and I do struggle with it and feel guilty for it, but I also believe that she knows that I love her and that we are happy that she is with us.

So anyway, that was a long way of saying, I can empathize

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Old 08-24-2010, 09:28 AM
 
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Yes, when both my children were younger, I had a hard time adjusting to the days and weekends that my SKs were here. It was definitely more work, more hassle, louder, and more expensive. It still is... but we've gotten used to it.

The hardest part for me has always been that I am not the only set of rules/morals/ethics in their life and therefore they aren't growing up with the same ideals as my children and sometimes we clash over those... but as they get older, they are learning how to deal with that better as am I.

It's easier all together now that my LOs are a little older and honestly, seeing how excited my kids get when "Bubby and Sissy" come over is enough to melt my heart and erase any kind of resentment towards them. My DS and DD love their older siblings with every thing they have in them and I can't possibly deny them of that love just because it's a little harder for me. As my SKs have gotten older, they have become a wonderful help too. My step-daughter is SUCH an amazing older sister. She is one of the only people I trust to babysit my kids now and when she turns 18, we've already talked to her about being their Guardian should anything happen to us. I know it's a lot to ask of a teenager but honestly, there's no one I trust more and it's the only way she would have it anyway. So I guess what I am trying to say is it does get better and easier as they get older... We've been doing this for 10 years now and I have gone through so many ranges of emotions with my step kids, from downright resentment to loving them as my own children. So definitely didn't love with my whole heart them from the get-go but I do now and would do anything for them. Their mother? Well, I could definitely do without her... but that's another story all together.

Jeri, Natural lovin' Mama to Elijah (9.29.03), Eden (10.2.06), and a little one lost along the way (1/12)., Step-monster to Shelby (18) and Stephen (16). Celebrating 12 years together with my soul-mate, Eric. Hoping for a rainbow1284.gif someday! 
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Old 08-24-2010, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to both of you! I know it's not a popular thing to voice out loud, but it's nice to have some empathy. Obviously I care for them and love them, but I struggle with the chaos their presence seems to create. I'm very much a person who makes my environment my own - I surround myself with things that represent me and I take care of my home. It's difficult when ANYONE comes in and sort of trashes the place and then leaves in a whirlwind and I guess it's harder with them because they aren't exactly guests, but they aren't around long enough to really become part of our daily, natural rhythm.

Mama to Maia (12/04), Nora (9/09), Sam (8/12) and Step-mama to Aidan (3/02) and Luci (10/04).

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Old 08-24-2010, 05:30 PM
 
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More empathy here. I've had my step-daughter since she was nearly 4 (she's now almost 10) and I now have a 2-year old with DSD's dad. Ever since i got pregnant, DSD has been more and more on my nerves. In large part it is because at her mom's house she gets to watch whatever she wants on TV, doesn't have a bedtime and pretty much gets her own way. We're pretty easy going, but we do require bedtime and don't watch TV. Saffron Girl had it right that she's not a guest, but also not here long enough to be part of the rhythm of the household.

She treats my DD like she barely exists. She used to tell me all the time that she hated her; I finally had to tell her that if you keep saying something, you might start believing it, so she'd better stop saying it. It's so weird to me because I also got a little sibling when I was almost 8, and I remember being over the moon about it. FWIW, her mom has a one-year old, and she hates that kid, too.

It's hard because she is a really strange child, I mean to the point where my friend and family comment on it. I wish I could explain it, but it would be a novel. When I am alone with her, we get along great, but when you throw in DH or DD, yes, we definitely have "factions."

I try, try, try to love her and finally told myself to fake it til I make it--treat her like I love her. And I do. But my dirty little secret is that I just don't, and even at moments where I am close, it's nothing like I feel for my DD.

That was cathartic, but now i feel guilty as he!!
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Old 08-24-2010, 06:04 PM
 
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I can totally empathize as well. I felt like that for a long time. The factions thing really struck a chord with me - I remember feeling like two families sharing one house - DH & DSD plus DS1 & I.

Things have changed, and I think it comes from a variety of things. Time is probably the most important - we've been doing this for years now. DSD is used to me doing things for her/with her (my getting her a drink instead of DH led to many meltdowns, for example). DS2 is another factor - I would say that things really changed around the time he was born. Suddenly DH and I couldn't divide and conquer anymore - they outnumbered us The factions disappeared. DS1 is old enough now that he and DSD really play together. That changed the feeling of the house, too.

It used to feel like every other week was a vacation when DSD was gone because she was SO much work. Now she is more mature and helpful, plus the kids who are here all the time are plenty of work all the time, so the addition of DSD doesn't really change the routine all that much.

One last thing that helped me was that I saw a counselor for a few sessions when DSD was really getting to me. The counselor helped me find child-friendly ways to tell DSD things (like when she hurt my feelings or was disrespectful). I used to not say anything (I fel like I couldn't), but I would walk around crabby all of the time. Now I tend to voice my opinion earlier to circumvent some of the stewing/bad moods.

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Old 08-25-2010, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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More empathy here. I've had my step-daughter since she was nearly 4 (she's now almost 10) and I now have a 2-year old with DSD's dad. Ever since i got pregnant, DSD has been more and more on my nerves. In large part it is because at her mom's house she gets to watch whatever she wants on TV, doesn't have a bedtime and pretty much gets her own way. We're pretty easy going, but we do require bedtime and don't watch TV. Saffron Girl had it right that she's not a guest, but also not here long enough to be part of the rhythm of the household.

She treats my DD like she barely exists. She used to tell me all the time that she hated her; I finally had to tell her that if you keep saying something, you might start believing it, so she'd better stop saying it. It's so weird to me because I also got a little sibling when I was almost 8, and I remember being over the moon about it. FWIW, her mom has a one-year old, and she hates that kid, too.

It's hard because she is a really strange child, I mean to the point where my friend and family comment on it. I wish I could explain it, but it would be a novel. When I am alone with her, we get along great, but when you throw in DH or DD, yes, we definitely have "factions."

I try, try, try to love her and finally told myself to fake it til I make it--treat her like I love her. And I do. But my dirty little secret is that I just don't, and even at moments where I am close, it's nothing like I feel for my DD.

That was cathartic, but now i feel guilty as he!!
Thanks for this. I was feeling pretty raw just putting this out there and it does help to know others feel the same. It seems like so many people are all rainbows and sunshine when it comes to kids and it's hard to feel like you're the exception.

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Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot
ne last thing that helped me was that I saw a counselor for a few sessions when DSD was really getting to me. The counselor helped me find child-friendly ways to tell DSD things (like when she hurt my feelings or was disrespectful). I used to not say anything (I fel like I couldn't), but I would walk around crabby all of the time. Now I tend to voice my opinion earlier to circumvent some of the stewing/bad moods.
I've been thinking about this for a long time. I really need to try to figure out how to find a counselor - specifically one that deals in family issues.

Mama to Maia (12/04), Nora (9/09), Sam (8/12) and Step-mama to Aidan (3/02) and Luci (10/04).

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Old 09-03-2010, 06:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
I can totally empathize as well. I felt like that for a long time. The factions thing really struck a chord with me - I remember feeling like two families sharing one house - DH & DSD plus DS1 & I.

Things have changed, and I think it comes from a variety of things. Time is probably the most important - we've been doing this for years now. DSD is used to me doing things for her/with her (my getting her a drink instead of DH led to many meltdowns, for example). DS2 is another factor - I would say that things really changed around the time he was born. Suddenly DH and I couldn't divide and conquer anymore - they outnumbered us The factions disappeared. DS1 is old enough now that he and DSD really play together. That changed the feeling of the house, too.

It used to feel like every other week was a vacation when DSD was gone because she was SO much work. Now she is more mature and helpful, plus the kids who are here all the time are plenty of work all the time, so the addition of DSD doesn't really change the routine all that much.

One last thing that helped me was that I saw a counselor for a few sessions when DSD was really getting to me. The counselor helped me find child-friendly ways to tell DSD things (like when she hurt my feelings or was disrespectful). I used to not say anything (I fel like I couldn't), but I would walk around crabby all of the time. Now I tend to voice my opinion earlier to circumvent some of the stewing/bad moods.
I really appreciate your post, PSB, not as a step-mother, but as the mother to my DP's DSD. (Got that?) She is only three but he is facing, it sounds like, a lot of the things that you did with your dsd. Dd often doesn't want him to do anything for her and freaks out of he does, etc. etc.

It gives me great hope reading your post that we can work through these issues because I love my DP, I love our son, and I love my dd and I DON'T want us to live our lives like two separate families.

Mama to a beautiful girl since May 2007 and a beautiful boy since August 2010! :
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:35 AM
 
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Forum-crashing. I don't have stepchildren, but even in my imagination it seems like there would be rough spots. I just wanted to add that some of the difficulties are just the logistics of the part-time arrangement--you have the kids for a few days, things get turned upside down, and then you need a few days to recuperate before they're back again. I used to do the 50/50 split with my ex, and even that was hard. There was no solid routine, schedules depended on the day of the week and it was hard to enjoy the day-to-day.

Anyway, just wanted to send some sympathy your way! We've moved away, so now DD sees her dad only a few times a year, but she gets to spend all summer with him and the other two visits are for weeks at a time. A lot of people have argued that it's better for DD to see her dad more regularly, but I feel like this way we all get to enjoy our lives. DD isn't constantly being uprooted and none of our houses are subject to the turmoil of a short visit. Not saying that's your solution! Just that I totally sympathize with your situation, and you shouldn't place the blame on yourself--the structure of the system just makes it naturally harder.
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Old 09-07-2010, 03:05 PM
 
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I have a step-son and I used to like him but have not felt love towards him.He is 17 now I have no emotional attachment towards him at all. He was here during the summer and things really went downhill.
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Old 09-09-2010, 06:30 PM
 
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My DSD has always been a lot of work (thankfully counseling started recently) but now that I have DS I do not have the patience for her drama. I'm trying, but weekends when she isn't here are such a relief. I did have to grow to love her and it's VERY hard sometimes. And yes, I do resent her often enough to feel guilty about it. And everything IS more work. Physically and emotionally. I have empathy, but no advice. My favorite quote lately is 'this too shall pass'.

Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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Old 09-12-2010, 01:35 AM
 
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I have kind of the opposite problem. I have two kids from a previous relationship who are here 50/50. DP really struggles with them, feels like I cater to them when they are here and that I don't prioritize our relationship when they're here. Now that I'm pregnant with is bub, it's worse. I'm constantly being "accused" of not taking care of myself, of putting my other two kids before his baby (who isn't even here yet!), etc. He definitely doesn't love them and I'm okay with that since he's not their dad. But he also doesn't really respect my bond with them or my relationship with them. I'm kind of at a loss of what to do. We are in counseling and have been for the last year (since he moved in), but honestly I don't think it's helping as much as it needs to be.

I wish he could embrace "this too shall pass" when we get into tight spots with the kids, but instead of supporting me, he criticizes the fact that I get frustrated with them. What parent doesn't ever get frustrated with their kids?!?!

Anyway, sorry to hijack... just needed to vent a little I guess

Wanted to add that he does have kids of his own, but his ex won't let them come here and it's kind of big fat mess (she's loony and they live far away), so we never have the dynamic where we have to deal with his kids in our home (yet).

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Old 09-12-2010, 02:46 AM
 
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I first met my stepdaughter when she was 13 months old. It was love at first sight. My soon-to-be ExHusband first met my son right after he turned 6 years old. I'm not saying my Husband never loved or bonded with my son- they definitely did- but there was a definite difference between the two relationships, that I didn't really see until my Husband left me- my ExHusband still comes around, spends time with my son, whatever, but it's so... removed. He's okay with having very little part in my son's life. Me, not having my stepdaughter anymore, it was like ripping a part of myself out of me, still is. I think some part of it has to do with the individual personalities between each parent and each child, however, I believe age also plays a big factor in bonding with your stepchild as well. Would I have bonded with my stepdaughter as much if I'd come into her life when she was 13 years, instead of 13 months? Probably not. Would my ExHusband have bonded with my son more if he came into his life at 6 months, as opposed to 6 years old? I suspect so. There are so many factors involved in stepfamilies, so many different dynamics, that determine bonds, or how much you love your stepchild. All are normal.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:30 PM
 
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When my DH and his ex were getting divorce she told her son that it was because he was dating me...not true....but it stuck in the mind a 5 year old and he's resented me since before he met me.

Sharing that history because even though I welcomed him with open arms and was very caring towards everything he didn't/doesn't like about his life is my fault. I didn't expect to feel about him the way I feel about DD, but I think that's OK.

Anyway, it gets pretty old to have some endlessly complain about you and to you even when you are doing your best and staying positive.

So, yes. I struggle to like and love him.

Mama to DD-9, DSS-11, happily married and living with 1dog, 1 cat, 7 chickens, and 2 ducks....expecting 03/11
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Old 09-29-2010, 05:27 PM
 
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I am so feeling all of this. My daughters and I are living with my boyfriend, moved in just over two years ago. My girls at the time were 14 and 10 and his son was 5. My boyfriend's son is very busy. He is is with us half the time and has FAR different rules at his mother's house than at ours. We don't buy the kids copious amounts of crap, we monitor what they watch on tv, what they eat, when they go to bed, how their grades in school are. None of this happens at his mother's house. So when we are on the way to pick him up on Monday I can feel myself tense up. He is like a loud messy Tasmanian Devil. He is rude, interrupts conversations, leaves messes everywhere he goes. I have tried so hard to love him but I just don't see it happening. I do care about him; I love his father and want what is best for his son. My older daughter is with us nearly all the time, her father and I divorced when she was two and I have been her primary caregiver since then. My younger daughter is with her father half the time, the same week my boyfriend's son is with his mother. Occasionally my older daughter goes with my younger daughter to her father's; he helped me raise my older daughter since she was three. So every other week we have maybe one child, maybe none, and the next week we have three. I am grateful for that week with just my boyfriend and I, I think I would be insane without it.

I never knew that raising someone else's child would be so hard. I never knew it would be so thankless. I never would have thought there would be a child that I just didn't like very much, especially my future step-child. The thing I hold onto is that he will get older and maybe we can learn to like each other, maybe he will understand why we have the rules we have, why we expect children to be respectful to adults. And I can savor the week he isn't here and look for ways for things to go more smoothly the week he is here.

I actually got tears in my eyes reading some of your responses, now I know I am not crazy and evil. Thank you all for being so candid.
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Old 10-13-2010, 04:08 PM
 
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Thank you for posting this. I've gotten a lot of great information for this post. I will be finally meeting my DSD in a few weeks and I'm slightly terrified. Only because, like a lot of people said on here, at her mother's house she is free to do anything... no rules. Not to mention the mother is a nightmare to begin with.

Part of me already resents this sweet little girl and I feel like a monster for resenting a child... especially a child I haven't met yet. But it's easy to given the situation. Sometimes my selfish side takes over and I think if the DSD weren't around I would not have to deal with this vile women and all the heart ache she brings to her daughter, to my DP and his family, to my DSS and to me. But then I stop and think, jesus... it's not her fault. She was born into this situation and she's just a victim of her mother's pettiness.

I am also terrified about losing my DP's attention or having him treat me and his son differently because the DSD is finally back in his life. I worry that he might let things lside with her and change rules to suit her. It's something we need to talk about so that both children are not treated differently and we stick to the rules we've set out for the DSS.

So compassion is the key when I feel like that. Once I meet her I think the anxiety will be gone and I can exhale about all of this.

Thank you for the posting this.

Me... DP.. DSS and soon... DSD
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So compassion is the key when I feel like that.
Great point. Should get it tattooed on my head.

Mama to Maia (12/04), Nora (9/09), Sam (8/12) and Step-mama to Aidan (3/02) and Luci (10/04).

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