Originally Posted by carmella78
...I'm so worried about any of them being more hurt because of something I do or don't do...
Affirmation that protecting my own kids emotional wellbeing is not selfish (seems like that should be obvious, but I have so much guilt about it) was really what I needed to hear...
Sadly, I don't think what you've expressed is
obvious - for plenty of us! Many women expect that their maternal instincts should kick in more-or-less equally with any child in need. If they don't, does that mean there's something broken or ugly inside of us? And we want so much to believe that good parenting can cure just about anything for our kids...because the possibility that it can't
is so frightening, when our kids have serious issues.
But it is
harder to accept behavior/personality issues in kids who aren't ours and whom we didn't raise and influence to be the way they are. All the effort, good examples and talk therapy in the world still may not fix the damage your DSDs' mother has done to them. And of course
you are right to want to protect your children from hurt and/or unhealthy examples - even if those things stem from your husband's children.
My teenage DSS has a rather messed-up mother and - probably as a result of being isolated with her a lot, his first 8.5 years, or at least as a result of his parents' God-awful divorce - he struggles with behavior I don't want my kids to copy, and sometimes he's just a jerk to them. Slowly, during his teens, I've let go of the ideal that he and my older sons would feel like brothers and that he'd be a wonderful big brother to DH's and my younger son; that our family would ever "blend" to the point that we felt like a "regular" family; that DSS and I would ever love each other in more-or-less the same way I love "my" kids; and that DH and I would ever completely be able to fix the screwed-up ideas, instincts and behavior which I sense DSS picked up from his mom.
That sounds depressing. And the process
of letting go of those ideals was
depressing. Looking back, I see that I mourned them - literally. I felt like it was my responsibility to ensure all the things I listed above happened, and that I failed. But actually having let go
of them is kind of freeing. I can see that I was never in charge of all those things - I never had total power to accomplish any of them. So it's not my
failure. I tried really
hard. But maybe they were the wrong goals, all along. Maybe it's OK that all our sons simply form their own, unique relationships with each other, which are imperfect but still better than any of them growing up in a home with no other children. Maybe it's enough that our family finds its own
way to work, that doesn't have to look or feel like anyone else's; and DSS and I find some sort
of relationship that also doesn't have to look or feel like the ones we have with anyone else, doesn't have to be
as close as parent and child. Maybe it's enough that DH and I are here to help DSS handle the cards he drew in life, even if we can't fix
everything that's unfair for him.
Maintaining the integrity of your core relationship with your bio kids and giving them a buffer zone, away from hurtful stepsisters is not selfish
. It's your job. Raising your step-daughters is your husband's
job. You can help him. But you shouldn't charge yourself with helping him at the expense of your own
job; nor should you hold yourself significantly responsible for the results of his job.