Can you TRULY love your stepchild as much as your own child, or am I the strange one? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 10-23-2010, 10:58 PM - Thread Starter
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I helped raise my stepdaughter from the time she was almost 3 years old until amost a year ago, and was a big part of her life from the time she was 13 months old until she was almost 3, when I moved in with her and her Dad. She's 10 now, and her Dad left me last December. We had such a bond- I would have died for her (still would). My life revolved around BOTH my children, my son, and my "daughter". Me and my stepdaughter, our personalities meshed so perfectly, we were inseperable. She was my world, as is my son.

My Husband left me about 10 months ago. I see my stepdaughter three times a month, if I'm lucky, for very short periods of time. I miss her so much. When we're together, our bind is still there- sometimes she just clings to me and tells me how much she misses me all the time. I don't cling to her- I'm supposed to be the adult- but that doesn't mean I don't want to. Every morning waking up when she's no longer my child is like waking up in my own personal Hell- one of my children is gone, one of my children was taken from me from the one person I trusted most in the world. I knew I wasn't her Mother, but she was my "daughter", know what I mean?

My Husband (I thought) had a similar bond with my son. My son still considers him the only Dad he ever knew. My son does not understand why his Dad continues to see his "sister" but shows very little interest in him. I don't understand, either. It's like he not only divorced me, but he divorced my son as well. When we were married, I saw very little difference between my son and my Hubby's relationship and me and my stepdaughter's relationship. I thought he felt the same. Apparently not. Apparently, it was just an illusion. Am I the exception, the weirdo, and my (ex) Husband the norm- nobody REALLY loves a child that's not theirs, no matter how strong the bond seems on the outside?

It kinda makes me wonder... I'm not currently looking to be involved with anyone for a long time, but it may eventually happen- I don't want to spend my life alone, but I cannot put my son through the rejection of a "parent" again, and I have a new baby coming soon, and if I can't trust what I can see, if a "parent" can be a "parent" for 9 years, and just shrug their shoulders and, for the most part, walk away from the child when they're done with the Husband/Wife relationship.

Does anyone here TRULY love their stepchild as much as their own child? Would anyone here really be able to just walk away from their stepchild if they broke up with their partner, if they had a choice to stay in the child's life as much as possible, or to fade out?

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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#2 of 9 Old 10-23-2010, 11:57 PM
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I don't have any step children myself, but I was raised by my step-father and I truly believe that he loves me every bit as much as he loves my sister and brother (his biological children). I am married for the second time. I had 2 daughters with my first husband and my current husband and I also have 2 daughters. My husband loves all 4 the same. It is possible. I am so sorry you are going through what you are going through. I hope you find the right man that will love you and your son like you both deserve!
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#3 of 9 Old 10-24-2010, 12:02 AM
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I don't have any step-children but I am a step-child. I didn't meet my stepmom until I was 11 or 12 but I'm closer to her than I am with my own father (or ever was with my 'mother'). I'm one of the reasons my dad and her are still together, I told him if they split up I was going with her. She's not 'blood' but she's been there for me through everything I've gone through in the last 10 years.

This Mommy and Military Daddy are loving their son.
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#4 of 9 Old 10-24-2010, 11:45 AM
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I think that some people can, and some people cannot. It isn't right or wrong, it just is.


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#5 of 9 Old 10-24-2010, 12:25 PM
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I think we tend to love children to the extent that they need (unless we have some inner deficit that corrupts those natural instincts).

I absolutely love my step-son, whom I've known since he was in preschool and who has lived with us since age 8 (he's 11 now), but it's not exactly the same as how I feel toward my own kids - which is appropriate, since DSS has a mother and father who both love him and are both still living and part of his life. He doesn't need me to be his mother - and it could cause friction, if I came to feel fully like a mother to him and he didn't feel the same, or felt disloyal to his mother because he transferred his maternal attachment to me, since he's around me more.

I worked at a daycare center once and grew very attached to a 2-year-old girl who was always the first to arrive, the last to leave (i.e., most of her weekday hours with her parents, she was asleep) and she was a horrible biter, so she was always in trouble at daycare. I tend to like most kids, so I think the reason she became such a favorite was simply because, during those 12 hours/day she spent away from home, she needed someone to be excited to see her and to treat her like she was wonderful and adorable, not just figure out how to keep her at arm's length from the other kids. And I, who was new and hadn't had to explain to 10 different irate parents why there were bite-marks on their kids, was the most capable of giving her what she needed. Even a year after I quit working there, I would occasionally wake up from a dream crying, because I missed her and knew I'd never see her again. It wasn't rational. She wasn't my kid. But there it was, anyway.

If you helped raise your step-daughter from babyhood and were her primary mother figure from age 3, of course you would feel like her mother. And how awful, to feel like a mother, but to have no significant visitation rights, after a divorce! I'm sorry for your pain and I hope you're able to maintain a relationship with her, as she grows up, lives on her own and can make her own choices about how much contact to have with you and whether to treat you as her mother.

I'd try not to focus too much on your ex's relationship with your son. Maybe he didn't feel quite as deep an attacment, because you were more of the caretaker for the children, so he didn't feel like your son needed as much of that, from him. Maybe he has very rigid ideas that made him feel it was required and inevitable that he distance himself from your son, when you divorced. But whatever your son lacks from him, you can't make up, by worrying about it. And whatever his attitude is toward your son, that doesn't change the genuine attachment between you and his daughter.

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#6 of 9 Old 10-24-2010, 01:06 PM
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My boys have different fathers. DS2's father adopted DS1. He'd been part of DS1's life since the kid was about a year old. He's not terribly demonstrative, nor does he communicate well, but he has never EVER treated DS2 with any sort of favortism. That's one good thing I can say about him.

He was unfaithful more than once and left me for another woman when the boys were 13 and 9.5. That was almost six years ago. He ignores them equally at this point. I figure that if a parent can treat their own flesh and blood as if they don't really matter, then sure, they can do it with a stepchild.
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#7 of 9 Old 10-27-2010, 02:28 PM
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I am not a stepmother per se because we are not married, but I do spend time with my partner's children and I love them as if they were my own. My ex's wife also loves my children as if they were her own. Maybe we are an exception, I don't know. I do know my feelings are strongly influenced by how my own children interact with their stepmom. It is not always perfect, but they know they are cared for.
From the other perspective, my partner says he always felt treated differently by his stepmom; I am close to her and it seems they now have a very good relationship as adults. She has told me she loves him dearly and always considered him her "own". So I guess it depends on the perception the children have...if they feel loved and accepted they will give the same in return.
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#8 of 9 Old 10-27-2010, 11:41 PM
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I honestly don't know. Well, let me qualify that. I think you can, but maybe not everyone does. Do I? I can honestly say I don't know, and I only have a DSD and no bio kids. Ok, correction, I have another SD and a SS (13 and 17) who live with their mom, SO's ex, and I know I don't feel the same about them as I do about younger SD because she is mine full-time where I only see them now and then. I am her parent, but not their's. I think it totally depends on the relationship and your involvement with the child. I love SO's other kids, but no, I don't love them like I love their sister. I've been in her life since she was about 1 1/2 and living with her and SO for nearly 4 years. She's almost 7. Her mom died when SD was 13 months old so I am it. The only mom she's really known or will remember (even though she will be sad, even cry, and say she misses her mommy, but that's another post and more questions about how much she should have been told and at what age and how many photos and mementos should have been given to her and at what age...) and aside from all the "firsts" and milestones of the first year, I've been there for and been involved with all the major developmental milestones of her life. And I want to be there, and expect to be there, for the ones to come. Menstruation, first kiss, prom, graduation, college, marriage if she chooses, and kids if she has them. I hope to be there for her for all of that. And I hope that she and I have a good relationship and she always wants me there and thinks of me as her mom (she does tell friends I'm her step-mom or her mom) and though she'll be sad her birth mom isn't there, I hope she feels the joy of having me there. I never wanted children of my own, and being a parent, especially a step-parent who also has to live in the shadow of a much beloved and missed birth mother, has at times been unbelievably difficult for me. I didn't have any experience and, as much as I hate it, a troubling lack of patience for a lot of it. However, I love her very, very much, and I WOULD DIE FOR HER in an instant. I would protect her with my life if needed and she is a priority in my life. Though I have often found myself in tears or angry enough to punch things and silently wishing I'd never met her father because I can't stand parenting, I know deep down that I love being her mom. Being that SO and I are not married, I am not sure what legal rights I would have to see her, but I also think, or hope, that having been in her life for so long and in the capacity I have been, that if he didn't want me to see her he'd have a hard time upholding it in court. SO and I have had our troubles, and I almost left him a couple of times. Would I have wanted to see SD if we had broken up? Yes. Are there moments when I think no? Yes, but I know those are moments of stress and anger or sadness when I am not enjoying parenthood. I also know that she would want to see me and would be devistated if I were not in her life, and that alone would be enough reason for me to do my best to continue the relationship. But as for your original question, I don't have any bio kids to base this on, but I honestly do think that if I did there would be a connection, a bond and honest emotion that is not there with SD. It's actually one of the reasons I don't want a child of my own with SO. I sometimes think I wouldn't mind having a baby of my own, but there are many reasons NOT to and one of them is I would be afraid I would, without consciously meaning to, treat that child differently and SD would feel it.

I'm sorry for your situation. It sucks and it's not fair to the kids.
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#9 of 9 Old 11-03-2010, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
I think that some people can, and some people cannot. It isn't right or wrong, it just is.

biological parents can care nothing for their children, adoptive or step-parents can care the world for their kids...there is no set formula.


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