very short comment i heard the other day - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 36 Old 04-22-2008, 03:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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A friend told me this about HER stepkids:
"I couldn't raise them as if they weren't my own kids-I don't know how else to do what's best for them than to treat them exactly like my own."

It impacted me a lot as a stepmom so i thought i'd pass it along. . .although easier said than done (at least for me)
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#2 of 36 Old 04-22-2008, 07:53 AM
 
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#3 of 36 Old 04-22-2008, 10:55 AM
 
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She hit the nail right on the head.

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 36 Old 04-22-2008, 12:19 PM
 
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Nice comment but ohhhh the pressure . . .
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#5 of 36 Old 04-22-2008, 04:48 PM
 
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That's how I feel and how I have always treated DSD. I don't have any bio kids yet, but I can't imagine treating anyone different just because of that. They are all children that need love, nurture and guidance.

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#6 of 36 Old 04-22-2008, 05:01 PM
 
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We do get contradictory messages as stepparents:

1. "Don't you dare treat them any differently from your own or they'll feel left out and unloved."
2. "Don't you dare treat them as your own or they'll feel as though you're trying to replace their real mother."

We also get:
1. "You can't possibly love them like your own because they're not; you didn't gestate or give birth to them and they don't share any of your DNA."
2. "Of COURSE adoptive mothers can love their adopted children like their own because they are! It's not gestation or birth or DNA that really matters."

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#7 of 36 Old 04-22-2008, 07:11 PM
 
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You brought up something that I have alwayes wondered on, ProtoLawyer, but was always afraid to ask... Why can't step-parents love their step-children like their own if adoptive parents can? Isn't it the same? We entered a commitment too.

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#8 of 36 Old 04-22-2008, 07:30 PM
 
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Simple:
When you adopt you are taking on complete care and responsibility of said child. You are the parent.

When you step parent the child still has two parents. The child is loyal to his/her parents. Add divorce, animosity/competition between spouses ( and that's just the tip of the ice berg ) the list goes on the dynamics of a blended family are complex. Navigating the emotions, of the stepchildren, exes etc. :
I married a man with two children. I took on the committment of this man in my life. His children have two parents that are committed to them already. I do the best I can but I am not Mom # 2. My 'commitment' is different than that of a parent.

If really serious love happens. (The kind that I feel for my own children) Great! If something in the middle happens. ( Akin to what I may feel for my good friends children) that will suffice.
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#9 of 36 Old 04-22-2008, 08:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
We do get contradictory messages as stepparents:

1. "Don't you dare treat them any differently from your own or they'll feel left out and unloved."
2. "Don't you dare treat them as your own or they'll feel as though you're trying to replace their real mother."

We also get:
1. "You can't possibly love them like your own because they're not; you didn't gestate or give birth to them and they don't share any of your DNA."
2. "Of COURSE adoptive mothers can love their adopted children like their own because they are! It's not gestation or birth or DNA that really matters."

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#10 of 36 Old 04-22-2008, 10:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by anitaj71 View Post
Simple:
When you adopt you are taking on complete care and responsibility of said child. You are the parent.

When you step parent the child still has two parents. The child is loyal to his/her parents. Add divorce, animosity/competition between spouses ( and that's just the tip of the ice berg ) the list goes on the dynamics of a blended family are complex. Navigating the emotions, of the stepchildren, exes etc. :
I married a man with two children. I took on the committment of this man in my life. His children have two parents that are committed to them already. I do the best I can but I am not Mom # 2. My 'commitment' is different than that of a parent.

If really serious love happens. (The kind that I feel for my own children) Great! If something in the middle happens. ( Akin to what I may feel for my good friends children) that will suffice.
I second that. I always say that I don't expect my DSS to love me. If he can grow up and in retrospect feel like I added some value to both his life and his dad's, then I've done my job.
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#11 of 36 Old 04-23-2008, 12:00 PM
 
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But what is so wrong with having 3 or 4 parents that love you and would do anything for you?

I'm sorry, I just don't understand how it could be a bad thing. I'm not talking about replacing biological parents here... I'm talking about adding to it. Being another positive parental figure for that child to go to when they need to.

I honestly can't see that as a bad thing.

And some step-parents do take a commitment in doing all the caring for, etc. When DSD is with DP and I, we take care of her together, but a lot of times, bathing, dressing, fixing meals, doing her hair... that's all my realm.

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#12 of 36 Old 04-23-2008, 12:51 PM
 
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I don't think it is a bad thing for all the parents to be able to love a child. I feel resentment from Dss's mom is what keep this from happening. All people love differently and add different things to a child's life. I could add the fine arts and love of reading to my Dss's but it isn't encouraged or allowed.
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#13 of 36 Old 04-23-2008, 01:12 PM
 
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JSMa, I think there's a certain ownership quality about kids to some parents. My step kids (4) have 3 different moms. Moms 1 & 3 - are the "these kids are mine" sort (that's just an iceberg tip/generalization really, there are alot of abuses strewn by these two). Mom 2 is the "it takes a village sort" and is glad that at least her girl's stepmom is caring and involved, and has no problem sharing the parental responsibilities (if we lived closer, that would be alot more doable, of course). I can very much understand the "mine" versus "village" it's hard to allow someone else to take care of your kids, and even harder still to watch them form a parental bond with another person, but IMO a parent who's not selfish would want what's best for the kid and be happy that they've got an additional person to love and support them. But I know it's hard, I go between "village" and "mine" with all the kids. I just have to remember that "village" is best for them and calm the two year old inside of me that says "MINE!"

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#14 of 36 Old 04-23-2008, 01:18 PM
 
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That's a really good point, Teenytoona! I love the village analogy. *nods*

I think I am lucky that DSD's Mom and my DP are getting more and more comfortable with the "vilage" concept. They want what is best for DSD, and they both respect me. I know from reading here I have it easier than most in this situation.

I guess I try to understand the thought behind the "step-parents aren't real parents, the child already has parents..." Because I don't think anyone can ever really have too much love or caring.

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#15 of 36 Old 04-23-2008, 02:30 PM
 
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I can see how ex tensions, emotions, and everything previous posters said *can* (and often will) get in the way of a parental bond between stepchildren and stepparents...but I don't think it's necessarily inevitable. (And I like what anitaj said about if the big love happens, that's great, and if not, that can be good, too...spot on.) In my own situation, one of the nice things I can say about SD's mom is that her non-traditional views of marriage, monogamy, and so forth means she has no problem with me treating SD as my own (whatever that means), because her ideal would be communal child-rearing anyway. She has expressed more generalized problems with me "living her life," but not specifically in regard to her daughter. In that way, I am lucky.

I understand the genetic and evolutionary programming we have to be very attached to our biological mothers, but beyond that, I don't think we're imprinted with "we can only love one mom and one dad, period." We know that's not true--nobody here, at least, would argue that a child with two moms can only be attached to the one who gave birth to her and the other is at best, an "auntie."

But are we programmed to love only two parents, period? I don't know; I'm not a psychologist, anthropologist, or for that matter, a theologian.

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#16 of 36 Old 04-24-2008, 12:54 AM
 
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But what is so wrong with having 3 or 4 parents that love you and would do anything for you?

I'm sorry, I just don't understand how it could be a bad thing. I'm not talking about replacing biological parents here... I'm talking about adding to it. Being another positive parental figure for that child to go to when they need to.

I honestly can't see that as a bad thing.

And some step-parents do take a commitment in doing all the caring for, etc. When DSD is with DP and I, we take care of her together, but a lot of times, bathing, dressing, fixing meals, doing her hair... that's all my realm.
It's not a bad thing, to have several parents that love you, unless you don't want that! My SS is profoundly dissatisfied with any care that I provide him. He is visibly upset to see me in the parking lot at the school, or to find out that I'm the only parent available to take him to a doctor's appt. He doesn't dislike me. We have fun together, we talk, he loves to come with me when I walk the dogs. But I'm not his parent, and he does not want me to be.

And I'll be completely honest - I don't love him like I do my other children. I love him, I'd just as soon take a bullet for him as I would for the other kids, I passionately desire the best life possible for him. But it's not the same. The day I accepted that, my life got 1000% easier. I let go and let myself see him as I would see a beloved nephew - someone to whom I am responsible, but for whom I do not bear ultimate responsibility.

Works for us.

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#17 of 36 Old 04-24-2008, 01:34 PM
 
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I also agree that treating Madison like I treat my own girls is essential to a happy home and life for all of us. Not sure if it makes a difference but I think that because the 3 girls are all so close in age, it is even more important as differences would be very very obvious.
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#18 of 36 Old 04-24-2008, 07:29 PM
 
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But what is so wrong with having 3 or 4 parents that love you and would do anything for you?

I'm sorry, I just don't understand how it could be a bad thing. I'm not talking about replacing biological parents here... I'm talking about adding to it. Being another positive parental figure for that child to go to when they need to.

I honestly can't see that as a bad thing.

And some step-parents do take a commitment in doing all the caring for, etc. When DSD is with DP and I, we take care of her together, but a lot of times, bathing, dressing, fixing meals, doing her hair... that's all my realm.
This is exactly the way my DH treats my son. We've told my son that he's very lucky... he's got two set of parents who love and care for him. His dad is currently in Japan (he's career in the Navy), and has remarried, so there's one mom and dad. I have custody so my DS lives with me and my DH. He calls both of his dad figures "Dad" and neither of the dads have issue with it. I told him that if he ever really gets to know his stepmom, and decides to call her "Mom" I'll be fine with that too. My DH loves my son as though he were actually bio related to him, and treats him that way... complete with all the frustrated worry that happens when 14 y.o. boys do stupid things. They go do things as father and son, which has been a great thing, since my 1st husband (being military) wasn't around much to do those things. The best thing of all this... this transition occured when my son was almost 11. He's never thrown the "You aren't my real dad, you can't tell me what to do" bit at DH. If he rebels, he rebels... doesn't matter whether which of the two of us told him to do what.

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#19 of 36 Old 04-25-2008, 08:28 AM
 
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That is very wonderful to hear Laura. Sounds like your DS is very lucky to have such loving and open parents.


We tell DSD that she is very lucky too. She is so young that I think going into it like that, that is what she will know as she grows older. We tell her she is lucky to have two homes and two sets of parents that love her very much. She will even say it herself somtimes.

For instance, yesterday when I picked her up from school she was actually in a really happy mood. She was babbling away in the backseat, like she sometimes does, and out of nowhere she said, "Jen, I am very lucky to have two homes. A very lucky girl."

It makes me happy when she says that.

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#20 of 36 Old 04-25-2008, 08:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
We do get contradictory messages as stepparents:

1. "Don't you dare treat them any differently from your own or they'll feel left out and unloved."
2. "Don't you dare treat them as your own or they'll feel as though you're trying to replace their real mother."

We also get:
1. "You can't possibly love them like your own because they're not; you didn't gestate or give birth to them and they don't share any of your DNA."
2. "Of COURSE adoptive mothers can love their adopted children like their own because they are! It's not gestation or birth or DNA that really matters."
I love this post... So true.:

If even adults can't figure it out, how in the world are the kids supposed to know what's ok to feel towards their stepparents?..

New endeavor coming soon...
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#21 of 36 Old 04-25-2008, 08:41 AM
 
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I think what we do right here can help make some small difference in our communities. We are learning from each other, learning to see all the sides to this complicated equation.

Maybe if enough of us can work it out, we can keep sharing our knowledge in making our environments a more peaceful and happy place.

The negative stigma that surrounds blended families is there for obvious reasons... There was hurt at some point in time that caused a family to break... but over time anything can be healed... and often times positive can come from it. But it is up to each individual to see the positives and put those first.

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#22 of 36 Old 04-25-2008, 04:16 PM
 
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I'm coming from a slightly different perspective not being a parent. But my partner is a stepdad to my daughter. I think it's a hard and from a certain vantage point unfair situation but I think a kid needs to know that their stepparent loves them like their own and cares for them and is unconditionally there for them. At the same time, the kid needs to be free to have a different kind of response to a stepparent than to his/her other parent. In my case, we tell our daughter that she's lucky to have 2 dads (no 2nd mom as of yet) and my partner refers to her as his daughter although she calls him by his name. They have a good, loving and developing relationship. I know it will never be quite the same for him as having our own kid would/will be but it's still a close and loving relationship. To my daughter, the security of that relationship (even if she sometimes rejects it or isn't as equally loving to him as to me) is very important.

Now that we are having a baby together, we are very careful not to call the baby his "first kid" and to try to sensitize all the grandparents. His mom is pretty great about this. To me, the importance of this was expressed when I told my parents we were going to have a baby and my dad said "I always figured Sean would want a kid of his own" - Sean and I were both about to say something but my very articulate and confident daughter piped up "Hey, he already has a kid of his own" - that's how she sees it. Between my partner and I it has been important to acknowledge that the experience is not the same for him and that his feelings are understandable. But him being able to provide unconditional love for my daughter is crucial to us being a family. I'm very lucky in that my family, his family and my ex and his family are all very supportive and eager to make this work - and to make my daughtere feel that she is surrounded by a huge family of love. It helps that I have so many adult friends who have close relationships with her - she is very used to the idea that you can love and be loved by many, many people both part of your "family" and not. I think that's important. I truly hope and believe that if and when my ex becomes seriously involved again, I will be part of supporting her relationship with that person as well.
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#23 of 36 Old 04-25-2008, 04:38 PM
 
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You brought up a really good point bronxmom. We do that with my parents already... My Dad said something about when they have grandchildren, and I quickly corrected him and said you already have a grand-daughter.

They are really good about it and spoil DSD already.

I know it will be interesting when I finally do get pregnant. I think I will likely say this is my first pregnancy, but not my first child.

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#24 of 36 Old 04-25-2008, 08:14 PM
 
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That point about grandparents is interesting--my parents have recently come around. They were never anything other than good with SD, but they were afraid of becoming attached to her (in case my partner and I broke up). Now, though, they're "Almost Grandma" and "Almost Grandpa" (SD's coinage...she's very insistent that they're not her grandparents YET--she's very particular--but will drop the "almost" once we marry).

Still, once my sister or I have a baby, I wonder if my parents will think of that child as their first grandchild. I sometimes say "one of my own" here (it's easy shorthand), but I don't really do that in real life--it's more often "we'll have one together." I think if I got pregnant, I'd probably say, similar to JSMa, "this is our first but we have a X-year-old from partner's first marriage."

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#25 of 36 Old 04-28-2008, 10:50 AM
 
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It's a very touchy and tricky notation for sure. At first my parents were afraid of getting attached too. But they got over that pretty quick when they realized how serious DP and I were. Wedding is only 3 months away now!


I don't know how they would think of other children, and if they would think of them as their first or what... I know my Mom shows off her grand-daughter pics now. lol Which is really cute.

Somedays I think I'm on the fence... I don't want DSD to ever feel out of place in our family. And I consider her my daughter, blood or no... but I know I did not birth her. And I don't want to talk down the experience when I do get to have my first pregnancy either... It's a hard thing to communicate properly.

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#26 of 36 Old 04-29-2008, 08:30 PM
 
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Somedays I think I'm on the fence... I don't want DSD to ever feel out of place in our family. And I consider her my daughter, blood or no... but I know I did not birth her. And I don't want to talk down the experience when I do get to have my first pregnancy either... It's a hard thing to communicate properly.
Yeah, that's a tough one. You have the child of your heart - your dsd, but haven't had the child of your body yet. This doesn't imply that your body child won't have a place in your heart... at least not to me.

My mom divorced her 1st when I was about 6 mos. My dad, who was a good friend of hers, sort of stepped in, having fallen in love with me as much as he did my mom. They were married when I was 1-1/2. Later when I was older and heard that he'd fallen in love with me as well as mom, I realized that's what I was to him... child of his heart. My little sister, his bio daughter with my mom and 3-1/2 yrs younger than me, used to try to taunt me with the fact that I wasn't his actual daughter (her words). I always responded with the fact that it was okay, cuz he chose me. That took the wind out her sails. When he legally adopted me (my bio dad didn't really want me any more, and signed over his rights), that forever quashed her ability to say I wasn't actually his.

Wow, I can't believe how off track I got. Anyway, maybe this can help you with your communication, or your thoughts...

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#27 of 36 Old 04-29-2008, 08:31 PM
 
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Somedays I think I'm on the fence... I don't want DSD to ever feel out of place in our family. And I consider her my daughter, blood or no... but I know I did not birth her. And I don't want to talk down the experience when I do get to have my first pregnancy either... It's a hard thing to communicate properly.
Yeah, that's a tough one. You have the child of your heart - your dsd, but haven't had the child of your body yet. This doesn't imply that your body child won't have a place in your heart... at least not to me.

My mom divorced her 1st when I was about 6 mos. My dad, who was a good friend of hers, sort of stepped in, having fallen in love with me as much as he did my mom. They were married when I was 1-1/2. Later when I was older and heard that he'd fallen in love with me as well as mom, I realized that's what I was to him... child of his heart. My little sister, his bio daughter with my mom and 3-1/2 yrs younger than me, used to try to taunt me with the fact that I wasn't his actual daughter (her words). I always responded with the fact that it was okay, cuz he chose me. That took the wind out her sails. When he legally adopted me (my bio dad didn't really want me any more, and signed over his rights), that forever quashed her ability to say I wasn't actually his.

Wow, I can't believe how off track I got. Anyway, maybe this can help you with your communication, or your thoughts...

Laura wife to Dan , BFing Babywearing RadicalUSing SAHM to my free range kid Craig (12/20/93) and eventual free range kid Danny (8/26/08)
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#28 of 36 Old 04-29-2008, 08:35 PM
 
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Not sure why my message posted twice. Sorry about that. Tried to delete the second one, but the only option I have is to edit it.

Laura wife to Dan , BFing Babywearing RadicalUSing SAHM to my free range kid Craig (12/20/93) and eventual free range kid Danny (8/26/08)
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#29 of 36 Old 05-01-2008, 11:27 PM
 
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On the day my DH and I married, I told my SS how lucky he was because he now had TWO mommies who love him so much and his eyes were just glowing with happiness as he nodded and hugged me.

Here we are 5 years later and he hates me with a passion (and the feeling is nearly mutual). His bio-mom hates me and has told him repeatedly, "You don't have to listen to her because she is NOT your mother" although DH has had full custody for almost 5 years, thus, I've been a full-time mommy to him (6 nights per week, sometimes more) for that whole time. I do every mommy thing for him (doctors visits, holding his hand during shots, giving meds, conferences at school, clipping toe nails, trimming hair, cleaning up vomit, etc., etc.). But, alas, I've seen that a toxic mother who is not interested in her child's well-being can destroy the step-mother/child relationship. I still call him my son. He still calls me mom. But we have been so at odds no matter how hard I've tried as she continues to fill his head with messages of hatred. I think this bothers him to know that I'm here, doing the best I can to care for him and all the other kids in our house and she's not - yet she's the one talking ugly and hateful.

I had an amazing step mother of my own when my bio-mom left me & my sister (I was 3). I thank God all the time that I had a good step-mother. Funny (sadly) enough, my own bio-mom was the one who was so immature and selfish that she constantly bad-mouthed my stepmom. I felt sad for my bio-mom but still grateful to my step-mom. And I realized that there is more than enough room in a child's heart for two moms!

Wife to one amazing man, unschooly mama to 2 boys daily (8/99 and 6/06), mom to 4 boys (6/94 and 2/00) and countless exchange students, praying to someday homebirth a daughter...
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#30 of 36 Old 05-20-2008, 04:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anitaj71 View Post
Simple:
When you adopt you are taking on complete care and responsibility of said child. You are the parent.

When you step parent the child still has two parents. The child is loyal to his/her parents. Add divorce, animosity/competition between spouses ( and that's just the tip of the ice berg ) the list goes on the dynamics of a blended family are complex. Navigating the emotions, of the stepchildren, exes etc. :
I married a man with two children. I took on the committment of this man in my life. His children have two parents that are committed to them already. I do the best I can but I am not Mom # 2. My 'commitment' is different than that of a parent.

If really serious love happens. (The kind that I feel for my own children) Great! If something in the middle happens. ( Akin to what I may feel for my good friends children) that will suffice.
That is so exactly what I needed to hear today. I was so unprepared for all the hostility I've had to deal with over the years since there were no exes to deal with. It's made me into someone who is just as hostile in return and I hate it. I hate the aunts and the other relatives who have lied to this child and warped her mind. I hate the dead woman who screwed her up. I get angry with my dh for his part in the whole mess and the drama that comes from dealing with dsd's RAD keeps me edgy all the time.

We are going through such a rough patch right now and I feel so guilty that I don't like my dsd much at the moment. We went from a good relationship to the point where I can't stand to be around her and I just don't know if we can get past it. Summer is coming and I cringe at the thought of having her home from school all day for several weeks nonstop.

I always felt like my own mother couldn't stand me, so this is a horrible feeling to have about my own child. I thought I'd do better.

I never hear anyone else admit to this. It makes me feel like I'm the worst mother in the world. I know other moms deal with emotional problems in their children without feeling this way. I don't understand why this is so hard.

So many women here make it sound so easy and every day I feel like throwing in the towel. I'm so tired of failing and I'm so tired of neglecting my 'normal' child because the troubled child takes up everyone's time with all her drama. I sometimes find myself wondering if I need a husband badly enough to keep dealing with this.

Are the rest of you really that perfect? : Or do you just make it sound that way? I feel like I'm drowning, and I wanted this child in my life at one time.

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