Moms with stepchildren:do you love them like your own? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 22 Old 11-19-2007, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been thinking about posting this for a week now, and was happy to read through the "Does he love them?" thread. I am having some major opinions about step families, and my ex does not share them.

We are both in relationships with people that have a child. I am more serious with my SO, but my ex has just started dating this woman.

My ex has no family values, only has contact with one family member out of MANY. Doesn't really care to create a family for our son, and thinks our son is better off with two parents separated since he gets more attention and time overall. He thinks it is impossible to love another's child like your own, and does not care if he ends up with a woman that would love my son as much as her own, since he thinks I am a good mother and that is enough for our son.

I have always wanted to have more children, and then want to adopt children. I love family, have a great relationship with my own, and am one of those women in the grocery store who will play with your baby and child during the entire checkout process. I love kids so much, I got a MA in psychology focusing on children.

If I were to ever marry my SO, I would love his son just as much as my own. No doubt about it. Already am totally in love with him. My son will be going to private school, and I would never think twice about not sending a step child as well. I would treat both children equally, and love them both with all my heart.

So, I know that while I might be a tiny bit jealous, it would be better for ds to be with a stepmother who loved him like her own then to try to monopolize ds's love for myself. But that's me.

But now it comes to my situation: How freaked out would you be to hear that someone you hardly know loves your only child? Would you even want her to treat your child like her own? Would jealousy come into play? Where do you draw the boundaries? I am never sure if I should try to show the same kind of affection for SO's son as I do my own. He has a mother who he is with half the time and she is a fabulous mother. He is only five, and he really does like my son and I, and we all spend a lot of time together, so...should I back off and treat him like any other kid until we are sure this is going to last? Should I just eventually have a talk with his mother about it? How has it worked out for all of you? I just want to be sure I do what is best for him, which is what I want my ex's girlfriend to be thinking too, but I doubt that it is.

Thanks for any feedback! :
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#2 of 22 Old 11-19-2007, 09:20 PM
 
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Wow. I have lots to say, but need to get dinner on the table so I'll have to come back later.

For now, though, I'd say breathe deep and pull back a little! Blending is HARD HARD HARD. It's like when you were pregnant, and people said it will change your life, and you said, "I know." And now you know you didn't know, right? Blending is infinitely more complex than having a child, or divorcing your child's other parent, or even adopting a child.

OK, anyway, later on I'll come back and share some of my experiences with this.

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#3 of 22 Old 11-19-2007, 10:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Spring Sun View Post
I have been thinking about posting this for a week now, and was happy to read through the "Does he love them?" thread. I am having some major opinions about step families, and my ex does not share them.

We are both in relationships with people that have a child. I am more serious with my SO, but my ex has just started dating this woman.

My ex has no family values, only has contact with one family member out of MANY. Doesn't really care to create a family for our son, and thinks our son is better off with two parents separated since he gets more attention and time overall. He thinks it is impossible to love another's child like your own, and does not care if he ends up with a woman that would love my son as much as her own, since he thinks I am a good mother and that is enough for our son.

I have always wanted to have more children, and then want to adopt children. I love family, have a great relationship with my own, and am one of those women in the grocery store who will play with your baby and child during the entire checkout process. I love kids so much, I got a MA in psychology focusing on children.

If I were to ever marry my SO, I would love his son just as much as my own. No doubt about it. Already am totally in love with him. My son will be going to private school, and I would never think twice about not sending a step child as well. I would treat both children equally, and love them both with all my heart.

So, I know that while I might be a tiny bit jealous, it would be better for ds to be with a stepmother who loved him like her own then to try to monopolize ds's love for myself. But that's me.

But now it comes to my situation: How freaked out would you be to hear that someone you hardly know loves your only child? Would you even want her to treat your child like her own? Would jealousy come into play? Where do you draw the boundaries? I am never sure if I should try to show the same kind of affection for SO's son as I do my own. He has a mother who he is with half the time and she is a fabulous mother. He is only five, and he really does like my son and I, and we all spend a lot of time together, so...should I back off and treat him like any other kid until we are sure this is going to last? Should I just eventually have a talk with his mother about it? How has it worked out for all of you? I just want to be sure I do what is best for him, which is what I want my ex's girlfriend to be thinking too, but I doubt that it is.

Thanks for any feedback! :
First of all, I love my stepdaughter dearly, as much as I love my son, only in a different way. Different because she's Katherine and he's Gary, NOT different because she's my stepdaughter and he's my son. But to answer your questions...

How freaked out would you be to hear that someone you hardly know loves your only child?

Probably a bit freaked out, but after thinking about it, I wouldn't want it any other way but for my son to be loved like I love my stepdaughter.

Would you even want her to treat your child like her own?

If she's a parental figure in my child's life, she better!

Would jealousy come into play?

Of course. I would try not to- I know how it feels on the recieving end, but when it came down to "special things", I'M the Mommy.

Where do you draw the boundaries?

His Stepmother can make any decisions she wants, but she can't overrule something I've already made so and any big decisions would need to be made by ALL the parents.

I am never sure if I should try to show the same kind of affection for SO's son as I do my own. He has a mother who he is with half the time and she is a fabulous mother. He is only five, and he really does like my son and I, and we all spend a lot of time together, so...should I back off and treat him like any other kid until we are sure this is going to last?

Treat him the way you expect to treat him always.

Should I just eventually have a talk with his mother about it?

If you think she'll be receptive. Mine went something like, "I know you don't like me being a part of Katherine's life, but I just want you to know that I'm not going anywhere and there's not a thing I wouldn't do for your child. I'd lay down my life for her. The more people who love her, the more loved she will be.", but my Hubby relayed the messege for me because she wouldn't admit that I exsisted.

How has it worked out for all of you?

So far, so good. My stepdaughter is happy and loves me like a second Mother. Her Mother tolerates me, with occasional setbacks and occasional comments towards the good as well.

I just want to be sure I do what is best for him, which is what I want my ex's girlfriend to be thinking too, but I doubt that it is.

You never know. I wish all Mothers and all Stepmothers shared this mindframe.

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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#4 of 22 Old 11-19-2007, 10:58 PM
 
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I'll be interested in seeing the replies on this, and whether it matters whether the steps came before the bio kids, or vice versa. (I'm a stepmom with no biological kids yet.)

Blending really hasn't been that much of a challenge for us. But then again...we took it slowly, and there's only one child involved, and I've been in her life since she was 2. I bet it would be much more difficult if we both had kids, or if his daughter was older.

To the OP: I would recommend backing off until you were sure you're going to be together for the long haul. Otherwise, you risk getting close, then splitting and breaking his heart. That doesn't mean you have to treat him coldly or anything -- just as you would any other friend's son. Good luck.

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Spouse (the political geek) * Stepdaughter (the artist) * and introducing...the Baby (um, he's a baby? He likes shiny things).
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#5 of 22 Old 11-19-2007, 11:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by UptownZoo View Post
It's like when you were pregnant, and people said it will change your life, and you said, "I know." And now you know you didn't know, right? Blending is infinitely more complex than having a child, or divorcing your child's other parent, or even adopting a child.
ITA with this.

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#6 of 22 Old 11-19-2007, 11:58 PM
 
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um, I raised my stepson for the last 10 years. Stepparenting has been SO much harder than parenting ever has been, and I have bio and adopted children as well.. with stepparenting I second guess myself so much more often- bio mom's parenting style is much different than mine- I parent, she doesn't.. her lifestyle has put herself before her children so many times I can't count. Currently neither of her children live with her (different dads). Stepson has told me many times that he loves me like a mother more than his own mother. I have done some really crazy things over the years for him that any mother would do for their own child (regarding bullies, or education issues, etc)..

The last two years though, he has stabbed me in the back repeatedly (theft, lying, etc). He is 18 now and out of the house.. really at my request more than anything. I think he is on drugs. I am afraid he may endanger my other children with his erratic and bizarre behavior.

Do I love him like my own child? Absolutely. Not having him live with us was a tough choice to make, but I believe, necessary. I would make the same decision with my other children if the situation were reversed.

OP, I am not sure if I answered your questions or not, but there you go..
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#7 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 12:32 AM
 
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I love my step children as my own. It is very difficult because you cannot control what is going on in the other half's house. A lot of people say it is not the same as your own. well for me it is and i agree with at least not everyone can do it. but if you have someone who can you are so much better off than another women who just acts like a stero type step mom. BTW I have my own children also. So I can see it from different angles.
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#8 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 12:54 AM
 
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Ok, I'm just gonna say it and hope I don't get flamed. No.

I don't love him in the same way that I love my own. It is just different with him. He has never allowed me to get close. I am sure that his mom had a lot to do with that. It's not his fault. It's not mine, either. Now, do I treat him differently than I treat my own? No. And I think that is the important part.

He doesn't love me like he loves his mother, either. It's ok. It's reality. We are fond of eachother. We play and hang out and enjoy eachother's company. He trusts me. He is a fabulous big brother to his siblings. Our family is happy most of the time.

Of course, I never have and never will tell him that, but stripping away all the bs, in my heart of hearts, the honest answer is no, and I think that is ok for our family. His mother and father love him like crazy, get along for the most part and he sees them both every week. Is his life ideal? No, but one can't make themselves feel something that they don't.
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#9 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 01:18 AM
 
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OK, I have a little more time now.

I guess I had a strong reaction to your post initially because you sound just like I did. I was 100% convinced that my (then) fiancee and I would raise our children as if we were a nuclear family and that we would love each other's children as if they were ours together. Yeah, so they went off a few nights a week to be with their other parents. We would be a nuclear family in all other respects. I know we all have to find our own way, but sometimes I think that if I'd heard the real experience of another SM in the beginning, I could have saved myself a lot of the resentment that came from wrong expectations.

It just didn't work out anything like that, and it was a bumpy road through the murk. Let me get this straight right out of the gate: I love my SS. I wouldn't hesitate to jump under that proverbial train for him anymore than I would for the children that I birthed. I want everything in the world for him, just like I do for my other kids. In the early grades, my older kids went to private school; when SS was ready to start kindergarten, DH and I tied ourselves in knots to find the money to send him, too.

But it's not the same. We had a hard, hard time on the way to understanding and accepting that. I can't describe exactly HOW it's not the same, though I can put my finger on a few things. First, I have no power in SS's life, except what DH gives me. If one of my bio kids needs to see a doctor, I just pick up said kid and go. Can't do that with SS w/o a medical release because I'm not a legal guardian. Seems like not a big deal, but it's a reminder that I'm not the mom. There are a thousand situations like that.

There's the mom factor, too. My bio kids "repay" me (don't really mean it like that, but I can't think of a better metaphor) all the time for my "mom duties." Because I'm the mom. So when I wash SS's socks and underpants, make sure he has the school supplies he needs, clean up after he barfs in the hall, etc., but then he doesn't even acknowledge me at the end of the day, that hurts. My bio kids give me a zillion little bits of feedback constantly - little hugs or I love you's and the fact that they make it a point to kiss me good night and say thank you for the dinner I made. SS hugs his dad, calls his mom, eats the dinner I prepared, wears the underpants I washed, and goes to bed. Ungrateful child? Absolutely not. He just isn't emotionally invested in me like he is in his own parents. It took a lot for me to disengage enough to let go of that, to learn to wash his clothes and give him his dinner because I'm a parent in this house, and that's what kind and loving parents do, all w/o resentment.


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My ex has no family values, only has contact with one family member out of MANY. Doesn't really care to create a family for our son, and thinks our son is better off with two parents separated since he gets more attention and time overall. He thinks it is impossible to love another's child like your own, and does not care if he ends up with a woman that would love my son as much as her own, since he thinks I am a good mother and that is enough for our son.
I think you're both right. My SS's stepfather does not play a father role in SS's life at all. He's kind and warm to him, but a bit distant. (Not cold; I don't want to convey that.) He plays soccer with him on the weekends, will help with homework if SS asks, but would never go to one of his p/t conferences or take him to the doctor. He loves SS, but not like a dad, YK? I think that's just fine.

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I have always wanted to have more children, and then want to adopt children. I love family, have a great relationship with my own, and am one of those women in the grocery store who will play with your baby and child during the entire checkout process. I love kids so much, I got a MA in psychology focusing on children.
I'm exactly the same way. I've always worked with children, am usually the first one to show up when someone has a baby, and will stand in the longest line at the grocery if it means I get to make eyes at a little kid. But again, blending is uber-complicated, and it is one of those times where love does not conquer all. Good preparation is worth more than love sometimes!

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If I were to ever marry my SO, I would love his son just as much as my own. No doubt about it. Already am totally in love with him. My son will be going to private school, and I would never think twice about not sending a step child as well. I would treat both children equally, and love them both with all my heart.
I pretty much addressed this above. I fell in love with my SS immediately, too. I changed his diapers and put him to bed for his nap and kissed his owies, and still it was hard.

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So, I know that while I might be a tiny bit jealous, it would be better for ds to be with a stepmother who loved him like her own then to try to monopolize ds's love for myself. But that's me.
OK, so I've done this situation from both sides. I'm a SM, and my kids have had two SMs. (Their dad, sadly, has a touch of revolving-door syndrome.) It's way easier to be on the bio mom side of the equation, IME. Now, that's partly due to the fact that my ex-h has fabulous taste in women. I got along fairly well with the first SM, and very well with the second. SS's mom, OTOH, is a bundle of insecurities that at times borders on irrationality, but that's not really it. With my bio kids, I know I'm the mom. They can (and I encouraged them to) love their SM as much as they want, and she can love them as much as she wants, because I'm the mom, and I'll always be the mom, and nothing breaks that bond. In fact, most of the problems we've had with SS's mom stem from the fact (I think) that she isn't secure in that knowledge and worries that I could somehow usurp her position. :

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But now it comes to my situation: How freaked out would you be to hear that someone you hardly know loves your only child?
Well, that's kind of the nature of shared custody. You have to trust your child's other parent to make reasonable decisions, harder in some situations than others. How long have you been separated from your child's dad? Less time makes it harder because the emotions are still high.

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Would you even want her to treat your child like her own?
Depends on what that means. If it means she wants to be fair with the kids and share affection and kiss them goodnight, sure. If it means she wants to schedule their doctor appts., register them for school, and teach them about sex, not so much. In other words, she can be as motherly as she wants, but their dad and I make the big decisions, period. Input from my DH and from SM is always welcome, but we're not parenting by committee.

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Would jealousy come into play?
It did for SS's mom, only a little for me.

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Where do you draw the boundaries?
That's a tough thing, and it's constant, since as kids grow and adults' situations change, they have to be redefined over and over again. Thankfully, as the kids get older, it's gotten easier. In the beginning, though, we had some wild stuff with SS's mom! Oh, I could tell some stories that still curl my hair when I remember them. How fondly (not) I remember the time she sat down at my dinner table and made herself a plate. Or the time that she insisted we have a professional portrait made (DH and I, her, all the kids) because SS just really needed that for his security. (BTW, we told her she could insist until her feet turned green and fell off; it wasn't gonna happen!) Or the trillion times she walked into the back (private) part of our house where I was dressing or showering because she had the right to see all of SS's home.


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I am never sure if I should try to show the same kind of affection for SO's son as I do my own.
On this score, I'd follow the kid's lead. He's very young. He might be open to affection from you, and if he is and you want to give it, then go for it.

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Should I just eventually have a talk with his mother about it?
IME, "the talk" has gone better when I was the bio mom than when I was the SM. I initiated this conversation three times (twice as bio, once as the step). As the bio mom, I simply said, hey, no worries, I want you to have whatever kind of relationship with my kids that feels right for you and them. Worked great; both SMs were visibly relieved. With SS's mom, it was predictably disastrous and I wish I'd never done it (yes, even now, almost 8 years later). When you're the SM, you're kind of a supplicant, in a one-down position. I hate that, but it seems to be true, and it sucks. If you decide to initiate an conversation, make sure you're not approaching it as if you're asking for permission to love her kid. Your permission regarding SO's child comes from your SO, not from her. Not that the relationship has to be contentious, just know that this is not a triangular relationship. There's a co-parenting relationship between SO and his ex, and the part you play is via your SO, not as a third, auxiliary parent.

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How has it worked out for all of you?
I'm just full of it tonight, huh? Really, my strongest suggestion is, pull back. Let things play out as they will, with you in a background role regarding SO's child and ex. Not that you can't have a great time getting to know his kid, but just take it easy.

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#10 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 01:33 AM
 
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Oh, uptown, how right you are. What a thoughtful and honest post. Thanks for saying what I wanted to say.

I too have been in my ss's life since he was very young (18 months) and thought that it would be a bowl of cherries. It wasn't. And I wish that I had some more reasonable expectations. Thankfully, I have come to accept the reality of the situation and forgive myself for "not loving him enough".
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#11 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 01:51 AM
 
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OK,
There's the mom factor, too. My bio kids "repay" me (don't really mean it like that, but I can't think of a better metaphor) all the time for my "mom duties." Because I'm the mom. So when I wash SS's socks and underpants, make sure he has the school supplies he needs, clean up after he barfs in the hall, etc., but then he doesn't even acknowledge me at the end of the day, that hurts. My bio kids give me a zillion little bits of feedback constantly - little hugs or I love you's and the fact that they make it a point to kiss me good night and say thank you for the dinner I made. SS hugs his dad, calls his mom, eats the dinner I prepared, wears the underpants I washed, and goes to bed. Ungrateful child? Absolutely not. He just isn't emotionally invested in me like he is in his own parents. It took a lot for me to disengage enough to let go of that, to learn to wash his clothes and give him his dinner because I'm a parent in this house, and that's what kind and loving parents do, all w/o resentment.
This is the part that I have the most trouble with. It is easy for DF to put up with DSD's nightly tantrums and breakdowns because he gets the hugs and kisses when it is all over. I get the crap but precious little of the positive interaction. So it is more difficult when they are not your own. I'm sure this is different if the biological parent of the same gender as the step parent is not in the picture, but if they are...

DF is constantly telling me that DSD may not notice what I do for her and the effort that I put in now, but when she is an adult, she will look back on it and think of me as a loving member of her family, not the evil Cinderella-type stepmother.

Bottom line is, your mom is your mom. Even if she is distracted/not that involved in your life/not that interested in mommyhood, she is still your mom. I know a man who is a child psychology resident, and he and I were discussing my parenting of DS. He said to me "You don't have to be perfect, you don't have to be great. You just have to be there. That's all he wants."

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#12 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 03:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, I am amazed at these responses. I can't express how much I appreciate the time and effort you have put into answering my questions. I can't say that I am exactly happy with the answers though.

I honestly envision a happy, harmonious family where everyone gets along and it is like a big tribe. I know that I am very much like SO's ex in my parenting style, and it has been so long for them, I guess I am hoping that negative feelings are gone and it could work out somehow.

I guess the thing that really surprised me after reading your responses and combing through some of the threads in this forum is that his child might not ever really love me to the extent that I could love him.

My ex also asked me today if he could take ds half the time, rather than 2/3's of the time. So I am really looking at how I value my role as a mother, and what that means to me, and how different the reality is from what I had envisioned when I got married to my ex. I have to somehow wrap my mind around what it means to not have a nuclear family, and at this point I just don't get it.

I trust you all, though. I know that it will be hard in a lot of ways. I think I need to keep reenvisioning what a family is, because to me it is still what I grew up with: two parents, a bunch of siblings, 3 dogs and 2 cats, etc... It is very challenging, though. How do I even begin to comprehend a totally different kind of family when I all I knew was that? Both my ex and my SO were raised in stepfamilies, so it makes sense to them. I am sure I don't know what I am store for. But I am glad to have you all to help along the way
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#13 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 10:45 AM
 
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.

I guess the thing that really surprised me after reading your responses and combing through some of the threads in this forum is that his child might not ever really love me to the extent that I could love him.

Thats just a part of nature. It sounds corny but women do tend to have a nurturing, maternal instinct that kicks in when there's a void to be filled. When your SS is at home with you, his maternal figure is absent and there's a void, a woman's maternal instinct will most likely prompt her to want to fill that void and give the child what he's lacking. At least, thats how it was with me, and because I may never be able to have bio kids of my own, I took on the role and created a bond with my SS.

I love him like he's my own son, probably the only one I'll ever have so I want to be as involved in his life as I can, but no matter how much I do for him, I know he'll never love me like he loves his mum, thats just how it is and I came into the relationship knowing that. He does love me, but its not the same way he loves him mum.

There are things I know he does with her, and I try to avoid doing those same things so he can have a set of activities that are especially for him and his mum. I pick other things to do with him, different crafts, different games, a set of activities that only he and I do, it brings us closer together and it helps avoid comparisons like "you're doing it wrong, my mommy does it this way". I cook differently, I behave differently, he knows I'm different from his mum and thats a good thing, it helps me feel like I have my own identity and role as regards to him, instead of being looked at as a "mommy-subsitute".

Most of the time, a SM will get all the duties and resposibilities of a mom but none of the recognition, but I believe that changes over time, especially when the SC become adults. Sometimes much sooner.

I think at some point every SM feels like its "Give, give, give". It takes a lot of patience and self-sacrifice, but afterwards getting a smile and a big hug makes it all worth it, you just have to keep trying and not give up.
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#14 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 02:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by emcare View Post
Ok, I'm just gonna say it and hope I don't get flamed. No.

I don't love him in the same way that I love my own. It is just different with him. He has never allowed me to get close. I am sure that his mom had a lot to do with that. It's not his fault. It's not mine, either. Now, do I treat him differently than I treat my own? No. And I think that is the important part.

He doesn't love me like he loves his mother, either. It's ok. It's reality. We are fond of eachother. We play and hang out and enjoy eachother's company. He trusts me. He is a fabulous big brother to his siblings. Our family is happy most of the time.

Of course, I never have and never will tell him that, but stripping away all the bs, in my heart of hearts, the honest answer is no, and I think that is ok for our family. His mother and father love him like crazy, get along for the most part and he sees them both every week. Is his life ideal? No, but one can't make themselves feel something that they don't.


I understand what you mean. My SD and I have bonded, but I came along later in my SK lives (she was 7 he was 14). They don't live with us full time either. And both kids are close to both of their parents.

It's different because my love for my own daughter was instant. When I'm away from her I feel a longing and I miss her terribly. I can't honestly say I feel the same about my SK. I really liked his kids from the start and think they liked me, but love? I don't know about that.

But as time goes on I think my love for DSD has grown. (DSS as well but he's older...so we aren't as close) I now look forward to her weekends and miss her when she leaves. I hope that my own daughter can grow up to be the wonderful girl that my DSD has become. I can say now that I do love her.

I wouldn't dream of treating them any more differently than my own. But I can't honestly say that I "love them like my own". It's not really about how much, it's just a different kind of love I guess.
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#15 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 03:38 PM
 
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I try, but I'm not there yet. Meddling relatives have done a lot to poison the relationship I have with dsd and we're in counseling to try to fix that, but it's going to be a long process. Eventually we'll be OK, but I can't honestly say I love her like I do my ds, because I really don't. I'm just to annoyed with the constant barrage of hate and resentment which builds up the same in me. It's difficult and it makes me feel guilty and inadequate.

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#16 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 03:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by emcare View Post
Ok, I'm just gonna say it and hope I don't get flamed. No.

He doesn't love me like he loves his mother, either. It's ok. It's reality. We are fond of each other. We play and hang out and enjoy each other's company. He trusts me.

Of course, I never have and never will tell him that, but stripping away all the bs, in my heart of hearts, the honest answer is no, and I think that is ok for our family. His mother and father love him like crazy, get along for the most part and he sees them both every week. Is his life ideal? No, but one can't make themselves feel something that they don't.
Same here, but I deleted the parts of your post that are not true for us.
Sometimes he is a good brother, but most of the time he's a tyrannical, bossy, abusive brother to my daughters. It's really hard to be fond of someone (10 yrs old) who is violent toward your own babies. He has learned how to manipulate with 'pretending' emotions to get out of trouble, but he knows I don't buy his acts. He truly has no remorse.

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#17 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 04:18 PM
 
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OMG, that's what dsd does, too! The fake stuff drives me batty! I much prefer the outright hostility to the phony sweet act any day, because I know it's all designed to fool her father, who often buys into it. It's almost amusing, because when her aunts do the phony stuff he sees right through it. : I think we all have blind spots when it comes to our own children. But it's much easier for me to spot the bs coming from the child who wants to watch all the cinderella themed stuff when we're home together, then acts all sugary towards me when dad's home, yk? It's kind of hard to miss that message.

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#18 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 05:22 PM
 
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How do I even begin to comprehend a totally different kind of family when I all I knew was that?
I think you hit the nail on the head with this. Here is your challenge, in a nutshell. And the short answer is, you don't. You can't comprehend it from where you stand now, but you can be prepared, and you can do what so many of us didn't do: know that you're jumping off a cliff. I certainly didn't; I was waaay over confident. If I had been more open, pushed less for the idealized family that never lived anywhere but between my ears, we all would have been better off.

The thing is, lots about step relationships just aren't really natural. Our relationships in most of our lives happen organically, naturally. We fall in love with a new person, we fall in love with our babies, we love our parents from before we remember. We aren't instant best friends with anyone; we meet someone, get to know each other, and maybe become very close, maybe stay acquaintances. But with step children, there's this notion that we're a parent to a new child and it should all be like a soft-focus formula commercial, KWIM? I think it's more similar to in-law relationships than anything else.

So, to prepare. Here's what I wish I had done: I read books, which was somewhat helpful, but what I really needed was to talk to people! Not a therapist, either. I needed to gather experience and wisdom from other people who had blended families. To this day, no one in my circle has ever created a stepfamily. But I could have put more energy into sharing my experiences on boards like this. Like I said, though, I was over confident!

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#19 of 22 Old 11-20-2007, 06:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by emcare View Post
Ok, I'm just gonna say it and hope I don't get flamed. No.

I don't love him in the same way that I love my own. It is just different with him. He has never allowed me to get close. I am sure that his mom had a lot to do with that. It's not his fault. It's not mine, either. Now, do I treat him differently than I treat my own? No. And I think that is the important part.

He doesn't love me like he loves his mother, either. It's ok. It's reality. We are fond of eachother. We play and hang out and enjoy eachother's company. He trusts me. He is a fabulous big brother to his siblings. Our family is happy most of the time.

Of course, I never have and never will tell him that, but stripping away all the bs, in my heart of hearts, the honest answer is no, and I think that is ok for our family. His mother and father love him like crazy, get along for the most part and he sees them both every week. Is his life ideal? No, but one can't make themselves feel something that they don't.
i will not flame you, i think honesty here is key. i have been a step mom to my dss's for 6 months only and it is hard. like really hard!!! harder than i ever imagined. my step sons have fun with me, they live with me and dh 50% of the time, but i dont feel loved by them the way they love their dad who fed, rocked and slept next to them since birth. they dont show me they are attached to me in at all the same way my son is, who was nursed from my breasts and held next to my body for so long. i love my step kids and when my son asks who i love the most, i answer that i love them all, just differently because they are all different. however is my love for two boys i met just a year ago as "strong" as it is for the boy i grew inside my body and have known nor for over 6 yrs??? i cant yet say it is the "same". will it ever be?
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#20 of 22 Old 11-21-2007, 01:39 PM
 
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I don't have boilogical kids of my own, so nothing to compare to. I have known DSD since she was 7 (now 14). Here is what I think...

Our relationship will never be the same as it is between her and her mom, no matter how much I help her with her school projects, no matter how many times I listen to problems with boys and her friends, no matter how often I listen to her orthodontists' complaints that she won't brush her teeth, no matter how much I worry when she gets sick...

She doesn't respond to me as she would if I was her mom. I don't think it's my fault, I don't think it's her fault, I don't think it's anyone's fault.

Do I love her to pieces? YES.
If I ever have a baby of my own, will I treat it any different? Well... I'll feel comfortable to give him/her hugs and kisses without feeling like it's unwanted. But I'll be there for DSD just like I'll be there for my own child. ALWAYS.

Does it mean I love her less than if she was my own? NO
Does it mean my love for her differs than that of a mother to a biological child? YES

:

P.S. If mom wasn't in the picture, I think that would change things, because I'd be "the mom". But as long as a child has real mom - I don't think I can fill the shoes.

New endeavor coming soon...
Raising Alice in Wonderland (DSD, 17), and in love with a Superman
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#21 of 22 Old 11-21-2007, 03:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Oriole View Post

P.S. If mom wasn't in the picture, I think that would change things, because I'd be "the mom". But as long as a child has real mom - I don't think I can fill the shoes.
In my case mom isn't in the picture, but the way it changed things is probably not the way you would think. Dsd has so much anger about mommy being gone, anger at dad over mommy being gone, anger at me over mommy being gone....sigh. She's got a lot to be angry about, it would just be nice if she were at least angry with the right people. The evil aunts who manipulate her emotionally, are in the process of stealing her inheritance, and who tried to file a wrongful death suit about her mother's death so they could profit from it rather than dsd and her oldest brother getting their trust funds. The same evil aunts who have planted the idea in her head that her father caused her mother's death, and that I was 'the other woman,' and various other ridiculous lies. Fortunately they couldn't profit from the death because Dh and his children were the next of kin and the only ones legally able to file wrongful death lawsuits. As it is, there is an inheritance that one of the aunts is in charge of that dsd and dss (sounds funny, I never call him that since he's grown) will never see because she has funneled all the cash to her family.

Poor kid. She's got relatives who steal from her telling her that her dad and stepmom are murderers and who knows what else. Dh and I grit our teeth and are probably not doing a very good job concealing our contempt for them, and we know her older brother has told her what he thinks of them. She has this romanticized memory of her mom, who in reality didn't care much about her and left most of her care to dh and her brother.

If our counseling helps and we can stop the resentment from growing and somehow heal, she might have a chance. I hope it isn't too late, and I hope I can continue to squelch the desire to spew out exactly what I know and what I think about the whole lot of them. As lousy as they are, it's all she has to hold onto. :

I think an unnatural relationship sums it up perfectly. It's work. If I didn't love her dad so much I would have walked away already, not over the relationship between dh and me, but between dsd and me. You just get so tired of But I also know that if someone doesn't keep trying, she's headed for disaster. Even just a little progress is better than nothing, and that's what we have to hold on to. I guess that's the difference between playing house and making a commitment. I can't say I always love her, but I am committed to raising her to adulthood with the right skills so she can survive and thrive on her own. With any luck and a lot of work, we can grow to love each other full-time.

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#22 of 22 Old 11-21-2007, 04:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by emcare View Post
Ok, I'm just gonna say it and hope I don't get flamed. No.

I don't love him in the same way that I love my own. It is just different with him. He has never allowed me to get close. I am sure that his mom had a lot to do with that. It's not his fault. It's not mine, either. Now, do I treat him differently than I treat my own? No. And I think that is the important part.

He doesn't love me like he loves his mother, either. It's ok. It's reality. We are fond of eachother. We play and hang out and enjoy eachother's company. He trusts me. He is a fabulous big brother to his siblings. Our family is happy most of the time.

Of course, I never have and never will tell him that, but stripping away all the bs, in my heart of hearts, the honest answer is no, and I think that is ok for our family. His mother and father love him like crazy, get along for the most part and he sees them both every week. Is his life ideal? No, but one can't make themselves feel something that they don't.
Absolutely the same with me. I'm fond of them, but love? Not quite yet..and again, that's ok. It works for us. It's taken me awhile to reconcile that with myself.
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