So Damn Silly, and Offensive Even

serenity_now_2007August 7, 2009

I just have to take a few moments and address the sort of assumptions that I'm seeing made on here lately about exactly how many hours, or how many drops of blood, or how many family members are sufficient ---or not--- to engender the feelings known as "love" and "devotion" and "bonding" in stepfamilies.

There have been arguments put forth about how the love for a bio child is different than the love for a stepchild is different than the love for an adopted child is different than the love for a nephew is different than the love for a dog. And how ya just can't expect to ever have more love for or get more love from the individual in question based primarily on the circumstances by which you are in each other's lives.

There have been arguments put forth about how the bond ---and even the love--- between a child and step-parent or between a child and bio-parent cannot possibly be expected to develop if the number of hours spent in each other's presence is less than a certain amount. This has been used on both sides of the step-parent/bio-parent divide to cast aspersions or make justifications for all manner of things from: letting oneself off the hook for having a duty to work positively on the relationship with a stepchild simply because the child is now 9 and it's too late to find them cute... to not believing that a bio-parent and/or their bio-child can possibly have genuine love and bonding with each other if they only see each other every [fill in the blank with the requisite time intervals]... to once the kid turns 18 and goes off to college maybe they'll care less and thus be less of a thorn in the side.

All I can say in repsonse to all this are two things:

1. Many resentful step-parents and bio-parents ONLY WISH these equations were so simple. Then whatever task they might have up their sleeve (banishing the kid, punishingthe ex) would be made so much easier. Simply get a DNA test (fake or real) to disprove the blood-line. Simply cut back the visits. Presto! Love & attachment gone! But how does this sort of simple math explain love that lasts ---between anyone and anyone--- across the miles and years? How does it explain two siblings living in the same neighborhood al their lives who can't even stand the sight of each other? How does it explain my step-dad, who didn't need a bloodline, nor adoption papers, nor a time machine to take me back to a cute n' cooing infant, nor a womb in which to grow me inside himself, nor to be my next-door-neighbor, in order to adore, support and genuinely befriend me starting the day he met me when I was 13 years old? How does it explain that my bio-dad and I saw each other only a few times a year since I was a child but not only loved each other but were so very much alike? How can some couples "lock eyes" at first meeting, get married on their first date and stay married 75 years and some others spend 75 years growing apart because they never got to know each other in all that time?

2. Love is an action verb, it's that simple. It's an action one takes based on choices one makes. Same with "bonding", same with "good relationship". It isn't something that flies down from the sky inside a baby with wings & an arrow while you sit there making yourself feel better about why you don't love a person whose life you chose to share in. You chose the person being in your life ---the child whom you either chose to birth or marry their parent, who didn't have a choice in the matter either way--- and because of that you have a responsibility to try and get to know that person, bond with them, see the good in them, treat them fairly, care and be supportive of them and most importantly never impede them from all the love they have coming from anyone else in their lives... especially if you can't ---or won't--- give enough of it to them yourself. That's what love is, specific choices, specific actions and first and foremost not doing any harm. If you wait around for a magical feeling to just "hit" you, meanwhile reassuring yourself that it's okay that it hasn't because after all you can't be expected to love a child after the diaper phase, or hold up your end of a commitment you made or stand behind what you chose for yourself, it'll never happen, either to you or for you. If that's you, don't have kids or stepkids, choose otherwise.

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I don't really know what to say.

I am *guilty* of saying that the love/bond I have with my daughter is different from the one I have with my stepson.

I don't think that makes me a poor stepparent nor do I think that my feelings are *wrong.*

"and because of that you have a responsibility to try and get to know that person, bond with them, see the good in them, treat them fairly, care and be supportive of them and most importantly never impede them from all the love they have coming from anyone else in their lives."

I one hundred percent agree with everything you said in the above statement. I certainly DO treat my stepson equally and fairly and AS I DO MY OWN CHILD when he is with me. I care for him and protect him as my own. And I would NEVER presume to try to prevent him from being in our family, or try to curtail his time with his dad. He is an integral part of our family.

I hear what you are saying that love is a choice, but I tend to disagree a bit. I think you sometimes cannot force yourself to "feel" a certain way about ANYONE, whether it's a man, a woman, a child, whoever. And what is love anyway? We have one word in the English language to describe a HUGE variety of emotions. The love for a child is different from the love for a spouse. The love I have for MY parents is different from both of the above. The love I have for my dearest childhood friend is different yet again. So why would anyone assume that the love for a stepchild would or should be the same as anything else? There are all variations of love.

As far as the magical feeling to just hit you---well, when I had my DD, it did for me. Actually, it happened while I was pregnant. When I had her, I never, ever knew I could feel that way about someone. And truth be told, I love her more immensely than anyone--including my DH.

Is that wrong? I don't know. She's my child and I love her. Not going to apologize for that.

My SS--I love him--but it is a different kind of love and caring. I cannot even really explain how or why, it just is.

That does NOT mean I don't treat him the way I treat my own child--I do, all the time, always have, always will.

My arguments in the other thread you are referring to had more to do with this man *expecting* his SO to feel a certain way. And the truth of the matter is, we don't always control our feelings. We control how we choose to act on our feelings, but feelings just ARE and we cannot always make them be a certain way. THAT was my point in that thread, that I felt her DH was being unreasonable.

Should he expect her to care for his child and treat her well? ABSOLUTELY.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 2:06PM
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LH, I do see a lot of what you're saying. I think I'm just frustrated in particular with some of the more extreme manifestations of the assumptions, and when it seems like people are leaning on them too much as excuses. As a step-kid, I see it from the kid's perspective of not having a choice in the matter... in who Mom or Dad brings into your life, your house, grants any authority over you, and who has immense influence over you, like it or not. Maybe stepdad or stepmom ---or even Mom or Dad--- can accept that stepmom or stepdad just "can't" love the kid, but how do you think it feels to that stepchild? "I guess stepmom just can't love me", "Susie's stepmom loves her, but mine can't love me... guess Susie is just more deserving of love... or just luckier... I guess life's a b!tch."

If I really believed it was possible for the step-parents to hide their real feelings from the step-children, I think I'd be a lot more understanding of their problem summoning the love up. And that isn't in itself the problem... it's that they then insist on staying in that stepkid's life! Or even having any authority over the kid! That's where my feeling is if you're going to talk the talk, walk the walk. Or at least understand why, if you can't love the stepkid, which the stepkid will ALWAYS know, the stepkid isn't going to be too crazy for you, or your rules, either.

Maybe it's fairest to say that there may be some natural leanings to feel certain ways based on circumstances, and that we don't know everything there is to know about the way love and other emotions operate... But there is a very strong element of choice in the matter too, more so than many people are willing to try.

It's the less romantic side of the word "love", I guess. The part that *isn't* the inexplicable magic feeling but is the day-in-day-out effort and the duty part of a commitment ones makes in the more romantic phases of "love". The 'walking the walk" part, I guess.

I don't think a person has to feel like a total jerk if they don't feel that magic feeling for another person's child... that's where I agree with the more vague and uncontrollable view of emotions. BUT... then they have a choice to make. They can either TRY and do the sorts of things that cultivate bonding and love, or they can decide that step-parenting isn't for them and move on. It's when people knowingly make a choice to be part of a child's life, knowing they don't love that child, knowing that the child does deserve a step-parent who WILL love them, and then in one way or another whine "poor me" after they've made their choice but made no real effort.

Because ---and this is the crux of my argument about choice--- many other potential step-parents WILL love that child. That's what makes me believe it isn't reducible to circumstance, bloodlines, or how many other adults are in the picture, or how old the kid is, etc. One potential step-parent will love the kid and another will not. Sure, some of it might be just inexplicable emotional or chemical factors... but some of it might be that the step-parent who loves the child makes better choices: i.e. "I can choose to be with a person with kids because I know I can love kids (or these kids in particular)" and/or "I choose to make the active lovING of these kids a priority in my life because they are a package deal with their parent who I feel in love with, and I don't want any heartache, either for myself or others."

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 2:43PM
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"I don't think a person has to feel like a total jerk if they don't feel that magic feeling for another person's child... that's where I agree with the more vague and uncontrollable view of emotions. BUT... then they have a choice to make. They can either TRY and do the sorts of things that cultivate bonding and love, or they can decide that step-parenting isn't for them and move on."

I again agree. That's why I guess, if you are using love in the action sense, I choose to do the former. I spend lots of time w/SS, take him to do fun things, and I also do the little day-in-day-out things, like cook his favorite foods, do his laundry, remind him to brush his teeth, help w/homework, etc. I care for him as a PARENT because when he is with us I am a parent---not HIS parent but still a parent in the home.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 2:56PM
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Serenity, what a wonderful post and I agree 100%.

I read a quote the other day and now of course I cannot find it, but the gist of it was...we treat well who we like, and treat poorly who we do not like. Notice how the action comes before the like or dislike and I happen to think this is very true. (If you treat someone well, I think it is almost impossible to dislike them. Disclaimer, of course there are many people/situations that this does not work, I'm talking in generalities) But in working with children, I think this applies greatly. Children know someones feelings and actions and can distinguish between a fake "I love you" and notice when someone has their best interests in mind, even if they dont say I love you.

I think if someone doesnt work out their feelings of resentment or consciously realize that this situation is not workable, it gives them enough justification to treat someone else poorly. And unfortunately, this ends up directed to the children in the situation. It is sad and I often wonder when I read those posts why in the heck dont you just walk away? This is a childs life on the balance, you really think by dragging this kid through a few years of emotional turmoil for YOU is ok? And then when the kid grows up and has obvious issues, dating abusive men, addictions etc...well they had nothing to do with it, see what they were saying about that rotten kid all along? Ugh, I just don't know when it all of a sudden became ok to put a parents wants and happiness over a childs basic needs, but it seems to be everywhere nowadays. And we wonder what is wrong with our children...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 3:37PM
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Oh and more to rant on, I cannot believe the amount of bioparents willing to put their child in a situation where the stepparent doesnt even basically like them. Not just love, but like.

I cannot fathom this notion, of placing your child with a parental figure that doesnt even LIKE your child. What message does that send to all involved?

If my bf had ever said anything remotely close to some of the posts Ive read here where the stepparent has told the bioparent exactly how it is with the child(how much they dislike them, how they're rotten, gotten bad traits from the ex bio parent), thats an automatic deal breaker for me. I cannot imagine subjecting either one to each other, much less my child, who has no power and this will traumatize her. I cant just get over how many bioparents are willing to do that. Boggles my mind.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 3:52PM
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serenity_now_2007, I agree with you, and your position was my end of the argument. I couldn't believe some of what I was reading, especially the "cannot possibly love" and "absurd" statements that were made and based solely on virtue of the circumstances, not the fact that they are children deserving of loving and caring by the people in their lives. It's the blanket statements like that I have a problem with because I do understand, and this is only circumstantial to be fair to those in horrible situations, that a child or his/her bio parent can destroy the love, feelings, and hope one initially has for the child(ren). But then again, people choose their situations, as you say.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 6:10PM
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nivea, I agree, but it's mind boggling to me that a bioparent would discourage the child from liking the stepparent...

My SD's mom has had a problem with me from the time DH and I got serious and her biggest complaint is that I do too many 'mom' things for her daughter... like baking, taking her shopping, helping with homework, etc. (bonding stuff I have tried to do so I can have a better relationship with SD) and BM is so jealous & insecure that she wants SD to hate me.... then leaves SD to live with me. What does she expect? Does she want me to treat her daughter good while she tells her daughter it's okay to treat me like crap? That is something I cannot understand. I can understand the feelings a mom has because I had those feelings when my son did things with his stepmom, but I can't imagine putting him in the position of having to deal with a stepmom that might take out her hatred of me on him, because I was nasty to her. (and I'm not saying she would have but as a mom, I would not want the possibility of that happening so I encouraged my son to have a better relationship with her... and I didn't care for her. I cared for my son more)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 6:48PM
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I think I will add my two cents as well. Serenity, what you say makes a lot of sense and I see nothing wrong with it, but I think some of it is actually a simplistic view of something that takes on many shades as Love so nicely pointed out in her response which immediately follows your initial post. Like me, you have never had your own child and I have heard many times what Love says about loving her DD more than her own husband from my friends with kids. You have also never been a SP and have never had to deal with the little, niggling things that undermine the feelings of somebody who entered the relationship and marriage with the best of intentions for blending a family. I'm come from an intact family so I cannot relate to you being a SC.

You are correct that one should not get involved with a person who has a child if one is not willing to do right by that child. I think when most of us here entered our relationships we intended to do the right thing and wanted a nurturing and stable blended family, but look at IMA's example.

Her SD's BM is influencing IMA's SD so much that it is continually causing much grief for IMA, her DH and SD. How can this not color the way IMA feels about her SD? IMA realizes that SD is just a kid, but how much crapola should IMA have to take before it's okay to no longer feel the love? IMA always seems to rise to the occasion and she appears to continually give of herself to her SD - look at the beautiful cake she made for SD's bday, but c'mon.

There have been other posters on this forum who complain that their child is not being treated well by their SC (and I'm not talking about normal kiddie things). Assuming that it is true, it will most likely affect the feelings the SP has for the SK. How can it not? Both adults in these families have the bigger responsibility in these relationships to put forth every effort to make everyone feel loved. While I don't disagree with what you have to say, I think it is on the naive side to see it so black and white because life does not happen in a vacuum. The potential for somebody to contaminate a relationship can come from many different events and people are only human.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 9:24PM
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But sometimes the truth is simple. You are so right serenity.

Quote: "You chose the person being in your life ---the child whom you either chose to birth or marry their parent, who didn't have a choice in the matter either way--- and because of that you have a responsibility to try and get to know that person, bond with them, see the good in them, treat them fairly, care and be supportive of them and most importantly never impede them from all the love they have coming from anyone else in their lives"

It is so true. I chose to be with FDH, who already had two kids from a previous marriage. It's a choice, you don't have to do it, but if you do than you do have that responsibility to do all of the above.

I did really well for about 3 years, and then BM finally started to get to me. That was around the time it seemed that her poison was finally taking hold in the kids brains. It took it's toll because I felt angry and frustrated by the unjustice of it all. Of course FDH and the kids were the ones to see my anger, not BM, and it had an impact on OUR relationship. I realised that I needed to do something about it, and with the help of a counselor and you guys here (and another forum for BPD)I'm now proud to say that I'm back to my normal self!

The words from the quote above were the words I kept in mind a lot while going through this phase. The kids deserve my love and attention. They are good kids, they are not at fault (even if they spit out crap they've heard from BM) and I owe it to them to give it my best. All I need to do is to be supportive of them, be a positive influence in their lives. If we can make it fun while they are with us than we've done a good job. If they feel safe and relaxed then we've done a good job. If they are happy to come to our place then I know we're doing a good job. We cannot protect them from BM's madness when they are with her, but we can be a soft place to fall when they come to our place.

I'm the type of person that wants to actively work on things, and I felt frustrated when I couldn't protect or 'save' my skids from the madness (but we do know that we tried). With our new approach of supporting the skids when they're with us and focusing on our own time with them, rather than getting worked up over BM's actions I've experienced how powerful this is. This has made my anger evaporate because I no longer feel frustrated that I can't stop the madness. But I no longer feel powerless either.

All I'm trying to say is that of course you can't always be perfect and sure there are times when things get rough, but it's about the choices YOU make as to how to get through them. A good relationship should be able to take a few bumps in the road. I'm blowing my own horn a bit here but I see it for myself now, my skids and I are back to where we were. They see I'm making the effort and therefore they put in as well, which is very touching and heart warming. After all they did not get to have a choice in their dad's partner.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 10:40PM
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In my own experience I have found that all love is not equal.

This post came about because I said I was "expected" to love my SD as her father does. Now this is a big ask - he loves her, loves her, loves her - the sort of love that I have not seen in a father - more the sort of love that comes from a mother. Now this might also be a controversial thing - a mothers love vs a fathers love, but my point is that he truly deeply loves her. Something I do not even pretend to feel. But its not that I dont care about her, I do. I would protect her and do everything in her best interests (even the tomato sandwich incident i believe was in her best interests - which often conflicts with what the child themselves wants, doesnÂt it?).

I try to love her, but just because I cant love her like her father does, does not mean I am not fit to be a SP. And maybe if I left and another SP came along she would be better off - but the truth is she does not need another SP and this is quite evident in her. She has a loving mother, a loving father, a loving "real" SD (married and in the picture for 8 years) who she lives full time with, so what i am to her - a part time SM. And I am from a long line of potential SM's who were paraded in front of her, who she might have bonded with, but all eventually left. Some hung around for a few years but most were only a few months. She has been taught that her fathers partner is someone who does not stick around, so while she is pleasant to me she herself does not attampt to bond with me, even after 2 years - but she is probably in fear of losing yet another relationship.

Unlike full time SM's, as a part time SM I have no rules, I ask nothing of her. I live in my BF's house - all the rules are his and I have no say in her life whatsoever - both BF and SM make sure of that. For example SD was poor in maths so i started tutoring her, when BM found out she hired a "real" tutor to teach her and I was put out of the picture because heaven forbid I had any influence on SD's life.

In my limited experience, love for a SC is built from seeing that you make a difference in the childs life. Whether this is teaching them to bake a cake, explaining to them a new thing or new word - you are taking a part in molding that child and it feels good. But when that is taken away from you the ability to love has not gone but the "motivation" to love seems to go.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 5:42AM
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What Lifetogether says makes perfect sense to me. She just listed yet another example of family dynamics that are far beyond her control. I don't see how or why these issues wouldn't influence the way Lifetogether feels about this child. It's also understandable why the BM is limiting contact too. She doesn't want her DD to be hurt by another here-today-gone-tomorrow-woman in her DD's life. BF is unreasonable to expect Lifetogther to feel unconditional love for his DD in this situation.

One also has to wonder why he has been through so many women and why he continually introduces them into his DD's life. Perhaps his relationships never last because he is controlling.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 10:43AM
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I normally do not read your posts serenity because of your hatred for SM's because your SM treated you horribly.

But having said that .... no matter what I did with my SC I don't care what it was ... like IMA said doing homework reading with them even making dinner for them was taken by mom as a personal attack and she let her children know I was only doing these things to get back at her for whatever reason.

Making cupcakes, having them help me make dinner, taking them to an easter egg hunt, amusement parks she told her children I didn't do these things because I liked them or wanted to be with them she told them I did it to make her look like a bad parent because she "couldn't do those things" because she was working to pay her CS. And because she paid her CS (after it was almost $10,000 behind) she didn't have extra money to do anything with them.

Then she ambushed her children one at a time starting with the oldest on a conquest of hating me .... worked for a few months with each of the boys then they for whatever reason stopped believing what mom was saying and developed their own opinions of me ... aside from what their mom said.

Now SD who mom says she never bonded with her nickname for SD was "little b!tch" when I used to speak with mom she never used her name it was only "little b!tch" ... SD craving her mom's attention got it when she would complain about me ... because I wouldn't let her masterbate every morning before school I would make her get up and get on the bus... when I didn't take her "anxiety" seriously enough after mom took SD to 6 different therapists with a 4 month period to find one who would agree with mom that SD has anxiety bingo she found one ... then after a 15 minute appt with a psychiatrist SD was given anti-anxiety meds did I mention she was 8 at the time.

When SD would say things like I am hormonal and I am having an anxiety attack instead of saying to her oh thats terrible and exaggerating her fears I would try to calm her fears mom would exaggerate them and medicate her ....

Well here we are 2 years later SD lives with her mom full-time hubby has full custody of the boys ...after mom told her children your dad only wanted the boys he didnt want your sister. What does that say to the children? He told the judge BM has SD so twisted that she believes she cannot function with out her mother that she was better off being with her mother... (did he put his child first or last)

A 18 months ago mom pretended to be me to get SD her much needed counseling appts.

Today SD has been "undiagnosed" she no longer takes meds. She is no longer "hormonal" she is no longer in counseling... mom says she doesn't need it anymore.

But she is still the same kid from 2 years ago nothing has changed. She still has fits when her mother doesn't answer the phone ... she still whines when she doesn't get her way and by this I'll give an example I get home from work and start dinner while I am making dinner she will have a bowl of cereal, make a sandwich, drink 3 glasses of whatever... so when we sit down for dinner I ask are you going to eat she says no I had _________ then calls her mother complaining because I didn't give her dessert. And her mother agrees I am a mean and nasty person.

This is the same child who called CPS because we had our cable shut off. She couldn't watch disney channel so we were abusing/neglecting her. Hubby lost his job 9 weeks with out a dime all non-essentials were turned off .... phone internet cable and my god we even ran out of oil for hot water.... and couldn't get any because I was the only one working and we used my money for food shopping. Imagine that I used my money to feed hubby and his children!!!

I tried to bond with her her mother did everything in her power to not let that happen. And now her mother deals with the after effects ... like the 3 am phone calls because she misses her mother or mom coming to get her at midnight because she's feeling anxious. SD being on the phone with her the whole time she is here ... hours at a time and we deal with the crying fits when mom doesn't answer the phone SD caught on though she learned the bf's phone number the house number and the looked up the number to the pool parlor where mom plays so even mom doesn't answer her phone SD finds a way to talk to mom.

So no I can't love her like my own... not because I didn't try to have a relationship with her she believed everything her mother said about me I can only wonder if mom would have stopped if SD didn't try to please her by hating me if she would have gone to oldest SS and started the cycle again or would she have given up.

The boys and I get along fine they have their moments but nothing compared to SD who only wants to please her mom ... the boys don't want to please anyone :) just themselves.

SD from the age of 6 to 8 was with me 24 hours a day 5 days a week ... only 2 days with her mom because hubby had to get a court order for her to take her children she couldn't be bothered until it was ordered and she used her time with her children to berate hubby and then me .... but hey thats her right as a mom to teach her children to hate their father. In that 2 years mom was concentrating on getting the boys to hate me then she moved on to SD and it worked.... the kid hates me.... and at this point in my life I don't care anymore .... I have given up on any relationship with her ....

Her siblings, her parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, teachers, counselors, and principal can't all be wrong ....

She thinks she is a princess.
She believes she does nothing wrong.
She always cries to get her way.
She assumes because we are related I have to put up with her crap.
She always starts the fights and we get blamed.
She showed my nephew how to masterbate the "right way"

...She even told her teacher "you're not my mother you can't tell me what to do" (suspended from school)

She told her principal his first day on the job.... that she was "hormonal and had anxiety so its not her fault if she is bad". (He had her evaluated no anxiety found)

And mom has the nerve to say "I can't believe my children would talk to adults like that" who the f*** are you kidding you taught them how to treat people.

I think most people start out wanting to have a good relationship with their SC even love them like their own and something happens along the way that changes the whole situation in my case it was mom's bitterness guess she hated me and hubby more than she loved her children.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 12:01PM
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Ima, I agree with you. I do not understand that as well, I would want my child to love and respect everyone in her life and have harmonious relationships in her home. Especially if I didn't have custody, I would want to know my daughter was taken care of and would promote. I dont understand Pseudo's BM either. Makes absolutely no sense to me.

However, the flip side of the coin is that the values I have for my daughter are to be self-confident, self-reliant, trust herself and her instincts, a healthy amount of self-esteem. If my daughter was put in a situation with a SM like some of the posts I was talking about (not yours, Pseudo, Hadley,etc) I wouldn't want her just bowing down to them. I think that would be very detrimental. I would teach her this is a learning experience to deal with unhealthy people, something she would have to learn eventually but unfortunate that she has to learn as a child.

As far as Lifetogether, yes those are out of her control. But what is in her control is to assess the situation and responsibly decide this is a good fit, will not harm anyone etc. Just because the father isnt doing it, doesn't give her a pass from not.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 12:41PM
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"I tried to bond with her her mother did everything in her power to not let that happen"

Oh Pseudo...big (((HUGS))) to you. I am so thankful that (as of yet) BM has not "gotten" to SS in regards to me, though it's not for lack of trying.

She has badmouthed me for YEARS to him. DH would be on the phone with her and would hear her say to him "your daddy loves LH and DD more than you" or "LH is trying to take you away from me" etc etc. She's always told him things like "LH is not your mom so she can't tell you what to do do" and on and on. It worked for awhile in that SS used to be cold/distant to me. He still is at times but for the most part, he is much, much better. What is ironic is that night with his mom in April actually drew US closer together. I think it was the FIRST time he'd ever seen his mom out of control and scary and it was the first time he'd ever seen me protect him. It totally turned a light switch on for him---at that moment, his mom was the "bad guy" and I was the "good guy." That whole scene went against YEARS of what she had been telling him.

Anyway, then the child abuse allegation came and I think, while he went along with BM initially, he was at least able to be strong enough to tell the worker the truth. I know he was very, very, very worried that I would be angry at him because of what his mom said and DH and I had to sit down and explain that no matter WHAT, as long as HE is truthful, we would never be angry at HIM for what his mom says.

Our relationship is a good one. BUT it has certainly been impeded and colored by years of BM being jealous that I spent time with him, by years of her acting on her insecurities and feeling threatened by me in a mother role. A prime example. Last year, his winter coat was at our house and it was one of the first chilly days in the fall; he needed it at school, so I drove it out there and had to sign in in the office, etc. I signed in as "stepmom" and BM saw it later when she signed him out and went ballistic.(this was probably a month or two after we got married, BTW, which I think is why she flipped---it was probably the first time I called myself stepmom.) She literally called DH screaming about how I am never to identify myself as stepmom, that I never should have dropped it off at school, I am "NOTHING to her son," I am not his mother, will never mean anything to him, etc. It was INSANE. DH tried to reason and was like "BM, she IS his stepmother!" But Bm was just completely, off her rocker irrational---and it boiled down to ME doing something mom-like for him. I guess? Anyway, of COURSE, she later told SS that "LH would not drop anything off at school for him anymore." He repeated this to us---so in his eyes, I was somehow the bad guy because I'd made his mom upset.

It is unbelievalbe to me how this types of BMs would rather their child be unhappy and have a tense relationship with a stepparent than a close, loving one. It's horribly sad. And while I don't take things out on SS, all that's gone on has certainly, at times, made me feel like I have to take a huge emotional step back from SS.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 1:16PM
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As silly as this will sound love .... I think based on my experience anyway .... boys are easier for SC than girls who feel a need to please their mom's in any way possible where as boys just don't care as long as their needs are met.

My SS's are not angels by any means we had our moments along the way but they don't question why I am smiling at them ... I cannot even smile at my SD with out her saying "why are you looking at me?" I made that mistake a few times now I do not even look in her direction...

If I laugh and joke with the boys ... SD says you like them better than me. You know what you're right because they like me better than you do.

Here's is my thinking if 3 of his 4 children like me then odds are in my favor that its her who has the problem not me :)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 2:11PM
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Pseudo, just to clarify: I don't hate all SM's, or all SP's. I have had both a stepdad and a stepmother, neither of whom were perfect, both of whom I've fought with and both who had their respective good qualities as well. At the end of the day, though, it has been made exceedingly clear to me which one of those two actually loved me ---or ever really gave a damn about me--- and which one was ultimately just too selfish to have a step-parent role.

In my case, this turned out to mean that my stepdad was the far better step-parent. It often happens that way... but then again there are also stepdads who molest or abuse their step-children so I suppose it just as often means stepdads can suck. Equally true, there are stepmothers out there with so much maternal instinct and/or commitment and/or raw fortitude that they love the kids like their own and more often than not do a lot more for their stepkids than even the bio-parents do.

So a statement that I hate SM's is just not accurate, and I don't feel that way. I do hate the EFFECT that a certain TYPE of parent ---step or bio, male or female--- can have on the kids. The common denominators to those type of parents that get my dander up are: selfishness, stubborn-ness, divisiveness, passive-aggressiveness and a refusal to be introspective, human or to even consider compromises or alternate solutions or that they may have to do, or think, something a bit differently than what they're accustomed to. I guess the common denominator to all those common denominators is an expectation on the part of these parents that everyone else is to cater to them and their shortcomings, an attitude often described when discussing a bratty child but not often enough called out in a grown adult who is supposed to be setting examples.

This is a rather specific personality type, so it by no means covers all step-parents, nor all step-mothers to be more specific. It basically only covers those individuals who knowingly choose to have children in their lives (either by birth or marriage) when they barely even like children, certainly can't or won't love them unconditionally, and/or want to be --just like a child-- the center of attention all the time themselves, thereby viewing the children essentially as competition, all the while expecting that everyone else --including the children--- just accept that deal and love THEM unconditionally regardless.

Sorry, but I wouldn't accept that deal, and THAT's the kind of individual whose EFFECT I do indeed hate.

btw, I'm not directing any of that hate to anyone in particular on any of these recent threads... It is more of a general statement. I see both sides of Livingtogether's predicament, for example, and can understand in general the challenges of trying to maintain unconditional love when other factors or people in the stepfamily make that a lot more difficult. The important thing is going into it with the effort and good intentions... it's when someone doesn't even bother to do that that I have no sympathy.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 4:36PM
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Yes, on some of my previous posts I have said that the love for my DD & SD was DIFFERENT. It doesn't mean that I don't love my SD. My SD is outright aggresive, destructive & blatanly refuses to do anything asked of her by myself or her dad.She yells, screams & argues with me/at me regularly. And lies nonstop. Do I still treat her fair? Yes. Do I still do all the mom things? Yes. Does she get grounded for not following the house rules? Yes. Does she think it's unfair that she gets grounded more than DD? Yes. But DD is a people pleaser and does whats asked. I cannot control her choices. When I ask SD why she treats me this way but not BM her response is "BM doesn't make me do anything or ask about my homework"! So I'm punished for doing the mom things!!
And I'm not giving up a lifetime of love with my DH for some years of grief! DH has full custody & she sees BM EOW. BM sleeps till noon then sits SD in front of video games all weekend. Doesn't shower her.Feeds her fast food constantly then SD has a fit if I won't get fast food for her. My DH & his family even say I treat her better than her mom but I'm punished for it. Her BM is not involved in ANY part of her life except EOW. No school or church functions. No phone calls during the week. Doesn't take her on her holidays. I mean NOTHING! And I don't bash her mom.
It's gotten worse since we got married. Before, if her dad went anywhere she was asking him(in front of me)"Are you going on a date with my mom?" Seriously?
Last week I asked her "If someone treated you the way you treat me, would you be friends with them?" She answered "No way!"
So....even with that I'm still always putting her safety & needs first. Do I love her? Yes. Do I love her the same as DD? No. And there is not anyone to say that I should or to leave!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 1:08AM
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Love ... I can relate to your and IMA's posts the most because of the similarities in BM's.

Your SS's BM is an amateur compared to my SC's BM but she has attacked you physically .... mine has not, only verbally and through her children. She is just one scary individual. I know what my SC's BM is capable of the last thing she would do is attack me physically she might break a nail or smudge her make-up.

IMA's SD is only a $$ amount to her mom she isn't getting any support has to pay it so she wants nothing to do with the child. Pawns her off on GM under the guise of she never gets to see her sister even though mom gets $$ because her DD "lives" with her but she doesn't she lives with GM. Just sad ...

IMA's SD is an inconveinence to her mom.
My SC are weapons of mom's bitterness.
Your SS's BM well her alcohol abuse makes her unstable.

Protect yourself and your DD and SS from that woman ... you are doing a great job not telling your SS what a whack his mom is ... just showing him you're not crazy will help in the long run he is only 6.

I used to defend mom and her actions with the kids .... not anymore can't be bothered.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 9:53AM
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"I think most people start out wanting to have a good relationship with their SC even love them like their own and something happens along the way that changes the whole situation in my case it was mom's bitterness guess she hated me and hubby more than she loved her children. "

I agree with this pseudo. I too started to want to have a good relationship and love them. But in every direction BM would sabatage it. Now i choose to disengage and not try anything, not invite, not got out of my way because it means nothing and will be taken in a twisted manner.
do my SK like me ? Yes, They honestly do and they have told their father. Do they realize their mother sabatages things out of jealousy? Yes they now do that they are older.
ARe they bitter about the situation? YES but is nothing anyone can do. bm will act the way she does.
Has she been quietly lately? DAMn yes! And thank GOD.
I am a stepmother, i am a stepchild as well. I am also a BM. so i do see all sides of this situation.
Yes, people do make decisions. BUT the reasons that some people list her are not excuses. Its reality and PAS does exist. Jealousy does corrupt and it so strong that yes, BM will not care about her own children , just as long as she uses them as weapons against her ex husband and the SM.
Each situation is different and does have to be handled differently.
I understand many comments you have made Serenity. I also had one wicked SM i couldn't stand and i also had the second that was the most amazing person and i still am in contact with her and i call her mom.
Do i love her. Not in the entense way i would love my father or brother. There are many shades of love, its stillunder the same umbrella.
I appreciated what she did for me. Even though i was 19 when i began my relationship with her. i didn't have to call her mom. She was my fathers wife...but i did form a wonderful bond and she represented the mother figure and she deserved that title.
As for my dh's ex. I dont' care anymore.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 6:11PM
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"She showed my nephew how to masterbate the "right way" "

what????? where did she see it???? at moms???? OMG. taught your nephew????

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 9:33AM
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"I tried to bond with her her mother did everything in her power to not let that happen"

That's exactly what I did. I helped out in every single activity SD did until she moved. I still try to be involved like texting her "I hope you have fun" when she has something big going on that day. But it doesn't matter.

The BM in my life (I now believe wholeheartedly) is a full-fledged narcissist (sp?). It's the only thing that helps her actions and reactions make sense. There's no rhyme or reason like money or control or whatever. But the one thing that is consistent is that BM gets the most benefit. And as long as BM's actions benefit SD as well, it's almost impossible to fight.

I love SD and I would do everything in my power to keep her safe, healthy and happy. I always have. It's the same way with my neices. I would give my life for them. But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, they have have their own parents. I will be an adult and help them, give them advice and deal with whatever might come up if they are left in my care. But anything beyond superficial things needs to be dealt with by the parents unless it directly effects me or my DS.

Unfortunately, I will never have more than a losely tied bond with SD. Every time I've ever had the chance, BM has sabotaged it. She's even sabotaged SD's bond with DH. All because she wants the picture of a perfect family and one of her kids having a different father ruins it. Can you believe she's even trying to block his access to SD's school information? She can't, but she's trying. It's because she wants her husband to be SD's "father". She's had SD call SF "Dad" since she was 7.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 1:14PM
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You chose the person being in your life ---the child whom you either chose to birth or marry their parent, who didn't have a choice in the matter either way--- and because of that you have a responsibility to try and get to know that person, bond with them, see the good in them, treat them fairly, care and be supportive of them and most importantly never impede them from all the love they have coming from anyone else in their lives... especially if you can't ---or won't--- give enough of it to them yourself. That's what love is, specific choices, specific actions and first and foremost not doing any harm.

I agree. I would challenge anyone who would try to say I havn't tried. I have spent those countless hours, shed countless tears, for my skids. All any of you read here, are my vents. My frustration vents. How I feel when i am frustrated and hurt. Because why would I need to post here if I didn't need to vent a frustration?
If things were going great with my family, and wouldn't even give posting a thought. If I didn't care, I wouldn't give posting a thought. I think that every step parent here, cares. Because if they did not, they would not be here at all. Because it wouldn't matter.

I went back and tried and tried again, all through my skids childhood. One is 19 now and out on his own, as sketchy as it is. The other will be 17 soon, and I have reached a pinnacle burn out point. I know that most of you here can not understand that. I know that most of you find it easier to blame me then to think that their are those children in this world who are so manipulative that they will purposely do things to sabotage anything good in their lives just so they can be seen as "a victim" and that is how they are happy getting attention. That is what they are used to.

I wouldn't have believed it either if I didn't experience it myself and then find others who live the same thing. It is very isolating, and I forgot that feeling of it when we dealt with my ss. I forgot how alone it makes you feel when they do succeed in alienating you from family and friends. I am happy though that my family is aware this time around and it isn't working. I already lost one friend in this, but it won't happen again.

Yes, I chose my dh, as he did me. We accepted that. What we didn't anticipate were the troubles we would have with his children. The issues that they would bring to the table.
I am not mean to my skids. I have never abused them as their own mother has and their step dad has and their grandparents. I have been good to them, and I have been someone who has been in their corner all along. It is they who still have not seen that.
My son has a step mom. She is great. I appreciate her. I appreciate that when my son's dad is at work, that she was there for him when he visited, and she made sure he ate, and was okay. She even checked labels for him to make sure he didn't eat anything with soy in it as he is allergic. I have also let her know this too.
So I am not a fool. I am not a mean person. I am mother. I am a step mother, I am a wife, a daughter and a sister. I cherish every role in my life. I do it to the best of my ability and I think in the end I can stand up and say I did my best.
I don't have to love my skids. I can't love someone who has never loved me, who treats me with contempt on an almost daily basis, who has no respect for me. I can care for them however. I can still take them into my home, feed them, clothe them, talk to them, guide them, give advice to them, and hope that any little thing that I have done will someday be appreciated, or will have done some good on some level.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 7:31PM
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Serenity, everything you've posted has been spot-on. I have felt the same way about so many posts I read about how much the children are hated and maligned and how the so-called "adult" in their lives wishes they didn't even exist. How they cannot "love" a child who they perceive as not loving them back or a child who treats them "badly." Wow. That sort of attitude truly blows me away.

Clearly, there are many people here who have no concept of love and loving others: You have to GIVE it to GET it. Sometimes it's not an instant-gratification thing, okay? It's like planting a garden - you have to put in a LOT of work - you have till the ground, bring in good soil, and plant the seeds, then you have to water them and protect them from the elements, then you have to wait... and wait... and wait... until they finally start pushing their way out of the ground. And even then, you still have to wait longer for them to mature into harvest.

Raising children isn't an add-water-and-stir proposition. It's a long-time commitment to joy AND pain. You think bio-parents don't go through exactly what step-parents go through? Are you NUTS? Kids, teenagers and young adults alike ALL push their parents buttons. They ALL push and push and PUSH to get what they want, to irritate us, to annoy us - they all act out and test the boundaries to see what they can get away with. It's not indemic to stepchildren! Seriously, it's the nature of the beast - ALL children will make you happy and sad and mad and frustrated and angry. ALL OF THEM. No matter who their Mom or Dad or Step-Mom or Step-Dad is.

What makes a huge difference is if you have the ability to STOP TAKING IT PERSONALLY. That's the key. My Mom gave me that bit of advice when I had my first child. She said, "Don't take things personally. Your kids will mouth off, say they 'hate you,' say they 'wish they'd never been born,' but it's a test: what they're actually saying is "do you love me so unconditionally that I can say 'I hate you' and you won't hate me back?" and "tell me that I matter and that you're glad I am here." That's what they want most of all: to be able to say the hurtful things and know that you will still love them. That's how they know they are really, truly loved."

And believe me, kids know from fake. If you think you're faking it 'til you make it and the kids will never know the difference, you're wrong. I'm a child of divorce, too and I had a SM who hated me, wished I'd never been born, wished I would just go away... she never "said" those things, but I knew anyway. Just from the way she treated me as if I didn't belong, her tone of voice, her INDIFFERENCE. That's what it all boils down to: indifference is worse than hate, and kids are savvy enough and sensitive enough to know the difference. Don't think you've hidden it well because no one's that good an actress.

I think we forget that there are consequences for our ALL our choices. We make a good choice and the consequences are positive and good. But make a bad choice and get bad consequences... No way! It's not MY fault! I didn't do anything wrong! It's this other person's fault or this person always says nasty things about me... I never do ANYTHING wrong! If you want things to change, take RESPONSIBILITY for your choices and your actions and stop blaming everyone else. One of my favorite quotes is one from Dr. Robert Anthony (he's written countless books), who said "When you blame others you give up the power to change." Start looking at what YOU'VE done to contribute to the negativity in the situation, and make a choice to stop those behaviors and start anew. Be honest and truthful - things we're TRYING to teach our kids, right? - about when you've made a bad choice and own up to the consequences when they follow, then do better. When we know better, we DO better, right?

The truth is that we CAN change our attitudes and behaviors, but only if we choose to and actively work on changing it. I find it interesting that we teach our children to be respectful, tell the truth, have a good attitude, be grateful, turn the other cheek, and a host of other nice, morality-type behaviors, yet as adults, we don't seem to think those apply to us, in such situations. We seem to think those attitudes and behaviors don't apply to us when we're hurt or we feel left out or someone says something nasty about us. We take it so personally and project all that hurt and pain and anger onto whom? A CHILD. A kid who didn't even ASK for this situation. A kid who has no choice in what happened to his or her family breaking apart nor a choice in who their parents bring into their lives after.
So how's that working for you?

I know when I met my DH, he told me early on that he wasn't sure if this was what he wanted to get into - he wasn't sure if he was up to taking on an "instant family." He needed time and to really think about whether or not he was up to the 'job.' And I appreciated his honesty in that I really didn't want to waste my time on someone who wouldn't want to give me and my child his all. But he CHOSE to love us. He CHOSE to commit to me AND my child. And his choice came with consequences, good and bad. The thing is that he was able to accept the responsibility for the consequences, good and bad. Not just the good consequences. Of course, it doesn't hurt that my kid is an awesome, well-behaved, loving child. But that doesn't mean he will ALWAYS be that way! We're here for when our kids are sweet, good-natured, do well in school, when they still want us to be active in their daily lives; and we'll be here when these kids are sullen, angry teenagers, pushing limits and boundaries to see how far they can go... and we're going to accept that this is what we signed on for. We're going to love them through all the nasty language, the pushing away, the rebellion, and we're going to come out on top. And so will our kids. Because we CHOOSE to love them through it. So yes, we CAN love people who act like they don't love us. We can love them because we CHOOSE to. And because they deserve that from us. We made the choices that brought them into this world, we accept the consequences for our choices and actions. That's what being an adult is about. I don't know... maybe we're stronger. Maybe we're better able to let the crap roll off our backs than others. I don't know. But I do know it's not the kid's fault if their behavior is bad. That's MY fault and it's my responsibility to teach them a better way of doing things, a better way of behaving to get the results that they want. That's MY consequence for making the choice to HAVE A CHILD.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 3:41PM
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Even the best tended and most nurtured gardens get weeds!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 7:34PM
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And what are weeds but invading plants that take away nourishment from the seed that you've planted. That doesn't mean your plant is bad- it means you need to tend to your garden better!

Seriously, that's all you can come up with in response? What you've said doesn't even apply, and it even further demonstrates my point. It's a lot of work - growing a family. And it's even harder and you see results more slowly or intermittently, when you come into a family already in-progress. It means you have to work even harder, communicate more effectively, have more patience, and be able to not take things personally than the parent you've married.

But it's still a choice, when all is said and done. It's a choice to love without expecting anything in return. That's what loving someone unconditionally means. And that's what children deserve from the adults in whom their care has been entrusted.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 7:53PM
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Sprinkles - Your post was very nice but we do not live in an ideal world.

"You think bio-parents don't go through exactly what step-parents go through?"

No, I don't. You are comparing apples to oranges. Yes - I believe stepfamilies can be successful. I believe I have a successful stepfamily, however, in no way does the relationship I have with my full-time stepdaughters (whom I do love) resemble the instantaneous and all consuming love I have for my son. When all is said and done, stepchildren are NOT ours. They have a mother (or father as the case may be). And they would agree with everything I have said. They love me, but not the way they love their mother. And I love them, but not the same as my son.

Nothing is ever textbook and to assume so is very shortsighted.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 8:48PM
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"Seriously, that's all you can come up with in response?"
I think I said what I needed to say a couple of different times during the beginning of this thread - go back to those posts.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:13AM
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That's fine. But if everyone just makes excuses and blames the problem on other people or circumstances, then, again, we're giving up the power to change. And that's all I read on here. She does this, he does that... He says this, she says that... All. The. Time.

Feelings are fleeting. Feelings can change. That's how you came to be in this situation - the original relationship changed because the feelings between the couple changed. Or because one of them made choices that were followed by consequences, which affected their feelings and caused them to change. It happens many times that people who experience infidelity are able to change how they feel - the anger, the disgust, the distrust - and turn their feelings back around and CHOOSE to love their spouse again. The one who betrayed them. How does that happen? How does one tear down that wall to feel love or affection for someone who treats them so badly? I'll tell you how: they CHOOSE to. I mean they literally say, "I choose to love you," and then they practice the movements, just like a dancer practices the steps to a dance. And you know what? It comes. It's hard and it feels stupid to "act" like you love someone, waiting for the love to come, but if you don't try, it never will.

If you don't think you can be a loving stepparent to someone elses child, move on. Stop thinking about yourself and what you wantand just leave. That child deserves someone who will love them in their life, not treat them with indifference and wish they'd never been born. How would you feel if you found out one of your parents felt that way about you?

I just think so many people here make excuses because they don't want to own up to their own responsibility in their circumstances. They want to pin all the problems onto outside influences and not take ownership of their part in the situation. No, it could never be anything you've done. You're perfect. And yet you hate a child. You think the smell of that doesn't permeate all you do and say? As I've said before, no one's that good an actress. It's the unspoken vibe that you give off and don't think the kids don't feel it in everything you do and say, every look you give them, every under-the-breath remark you make.

They know it.

You think you can't change? No, you can. It's Just that you won't because then you'd have to admit that you've done something wrong and need to take responsibility for your part in this situation.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:08AM
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I was thinking about what I have said on this thread and why it bothers me so much, why it makes me even want to respond, since I usually don't I think it's because I was treated this way as I child and I did nothing to deserve it. I was like a lot of your stepkids - I was a good kid, I never got into any trouble, I made good grades, I was respectful of my elders and good to my siblings. In fact, I have relstionships with my SM's children (my half-siblings), but not with her or BD. I think that's because she never wanted a relationship with me in the first place, and she didn't want her DH (my BD) to either. She pretty much wanted me to "disappear," like so many of you here and other boards wish your step-children would do - just go away. Disappear. So she froze me out. Visitations eventually became non-existent. My BD blames that fact on me, my Mom, and her family. But my Mom never said a bad word about him OR SM. She always told me they loved me. But I DID witness SM scream and accuse my Mom of starving me, of sending me in ugly clothes, of not taking proper care of me. Yep, the same ol' accusatory crap that I read on here... So forgive me if I take what I read here with a grain of salt. I know there are two sides to every story, and I know from experience that sometimes (note, I said "some" times), the accusing side blows things way out of proportion and only sees what they want to see, then accuses the other party without knowing the full story. See, when my SM accused my Mom of starving me, it was because my Mom fed us healthy foods, always cooked with whole grains, we raised our own fruits and veggies, as well as our own chickens and rabbits for meat, we hunted deer for venison... I had a brother with what is now called ADHD, and instead of putting him on Ritalin, my Mom chose to change our diet and she cut out all artificial sweetners, colors, she cut out refined sugars and flours... as a kid, it was miserable! But, in the long run, it was a healthier lifestyle. But when I went to BD and SM's house, they had Pepsi, Cookie Crunch cereal, Oreos... oh. my god. Kid Food Heaven! And I ate like a little piglet! So, then my SM gets it in her head that my Mom is "starving" me. Not the truth, but she didn't even ask, she just accused and threatened that they would take me away from my Mom! So, what does that tell you? That sometimes, things are not always what they seem. Sometimes, you see what you want to see, you run with it, and you start to believe it. Then the negative feelings being to creep in and you start to see that person or people in a negative light, never even thinking there might be another side to the story. And it's hard to change that path of thought, once it's begun.

All that to say, I think this bothers me so much because I've lived it as a step-child, and I see my child living it now, too. And that was not my intention. I set out on making it different for my child. I phoned up SM and introduced myself, I told her I respected her, that I knew my child cared about her, that I knew we could relate on a 'mother' level (she had a foster DD), and that I wanted things to be different for my child than they were for me, with my SM. I thought I had done a good job of helping her feel supported. But, a few weeks later, she turned right around and attacked me - literally - in a parking garage. Along with my XMIL. Attacked me and my then-BF (now DH) in front of my child. Over money. It was so bad, I filed a police report. I was scared, and I had to watch my child's face in the car window as they drove off, because it was XH's weekend. And this isn't the first time a domestic violence situation has arisen with them. I take responsibility for not being more aggressive, for letting them feel like they could bully me. I felt like a whimpering dog, being kicked in the stomach when I should have stood up to them, nose to nose, and been strong. But I didn't want to fight in front of my child. It was my choice.

So, that's where I'm coming from on this. It upsets me to think that my child is experiencing the same indifference that I did. My child is so kind-hearted, such a good kid (and I'm biased I know, but parents and teachers all tell me that my kid is such a good, well-mannered, kind and polite child) that it tears me up that another person, who has such influence and authority, would treat my child with such indifference - as if my child didn't deserve to exist or deserve their kindness and love.

I also want to clarify a contradiction that I may have made here: When I said that faking it 'til you make it doesn't work, then turned right around and said that sometimes you have to act out the part of changing your feelings before it comes to you, I realized that I was contradicting myself. So I thought about what makes it different. And I realized that it's the intention. When you 'fake it til you make it,' that usually means you're faking caring about them until they're gone, with no intention of ever really trying to change your feelings or learning to love them. But when your intention is to really learn to love, to change your feelings toward another person, that's the key. KWIM?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 11:23AM
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iheart, I can relate to much of what you've said. Been there with my own BD and step-mom and seeing DD go through it with her BD and his girlfriend, probably soon to be step-mother. It definitely makes for a different perspective. I don't, however, expect any step-parent to love another person's kids as their own. It is idealistic and unrealistic. I do, however, expect that step-parents will come to care for their step-kids, take care of them when they are in their home, and treat them as they would their own kids. There is a difference. You cannot force feelings. Having raised someone else's child myself (albeit for a short time), I can attest to that. I never treated them differently, but I love no one the way I love my daughter, and that's not going to change. That doesn't make me a bad person. And as I learned the hard way, although his bio-parents were terrible parents and I did more for him in 2 years than his parents did for him in his entire lifetime, when all was said and done, his parents stood alone on a pedestal. There is just something about giving birth to a child that creates a love like no other (for most people anyway).

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 11:51AM
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I admire you mariealways, for your ability to care for a child that is not biologically yours and put that child's needs ahead of your own. You acted in a very kind, caring, loving manner. You acted compassionately. You chose to care through your actions, with the intention being that this child deserved better, not expecting anything in return. That IS love. One difference though is that you didn't choose to marry the parent of that child. I think that when a person chooses to marry a person with children, the children can't just be an afterthought, KWIM?

You are right that one cannot FORCE feelings, but one can CHANGE feelings. There's a difference there, too. And that's what I've been talking about.

I don't believe I have said that my expectations were ever that a step-parent should love a step-child as their own. What I have trouble with are those who blame others for their own problems. I especially have trouble with an adult blaming a child for their problems. I have a problem with a grown, adult woman calling a 4 year old child a "b!tch." I have trouble with a grown, adult woman being jealous of the close relationship between a 9 year old child and their Dad. I have trouble understanding how a grown, adult woman could wish a child - whom her spouse loves beyond measure - would just 'go away.' That's just an extension of the jealousy - she wants the man all to herself. Can you imagine how the parent would feel if their child just disappeared from their life? I have trouble understanding how those issues didn't make themselves known before that grown, adult woman got into that relationship. Yeah, THAT'S what I have trouble with. Take responsibility and ownership of your feelings and then you can start to change them. Is jealousy at the root of your problem? Then OWN it and address it. Then you can see it for what it is and change it.

My Dad (actually my Step-Dad, but he's always been my Dad) told me once that he didn't believe in a "soulmate." At that time, I was a romantic-minded young adult and I thought he was out of his freakin' mind. But now, in my forties and having lived a little bit, I see he was right. He told me, "In your life, you'll probably meet 30 or so people who would be a good match for you. And any of them would be just as good as the other. Just be sure you pick a good one." I though 'Dad, you're nuts. Thanks a lot.' But he was right. I think that we meet people throughout our lives that can be good matches for us. But we have to consider all the aspects of that potential match before we commit to it. And having children in the picture changes the variables for that match to be a success. And children cannot be an afterthought. They are an important variable in the equation - just as important as the main relationship. And yet so many people get caught up in the romance, the sex, the newness of a relationship before they ever consider the children and their impact on the relationship.

I believe that people, espcially women, are prone to romanticizing, believing that love will conquer all. But it doesn't. Just ask the first wife. She probably thought that, too. People need to take these relationships with people who have children SLOW. Talk honestly. Consider whether or not this is a good fit for you BEFORE having sex with the guy. Know him better, watch him parent his children. See if he's able to do it all on his own. Communicate your expectations beforehand. Don't just go into it thinking that your love can change things, your love can make his life better. And if all signs point to potential success, great. Go for it. But if there are any signs of trouble, don't. There are probably 30 other great guys out there who would be just as good a match.

And they might even be childless!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 1:27PM
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"See, when my SM accused my Mom of starving me, it was because my Mom fed us healthy foods, always cooked with whole grains, we raised our own fruits and veggies, as well as our own chickens and rabbits for meat, we hunted deer for venison... I had a brother with what is now called ADHD, and instead of putting him on Ritalin, my Mom chose to change our diet and she cut out all artificial sweetners, colors, she cut out refined sugars and flours... as a kid, it was miserable! But, in the long run, it was a healthier lifestyle. But when I went to BD and SM's house, they had Pepsi, Cookie Crunch cereal, Oreos... oh. my god. Kid Food Heaven! And I ate like a little piglet! So, then my SM gets it in her head that my Mom is "starving" me. Not the truth, but she didn't even ask, she just accused and threatened that they would take me away from my Mom! So, what does that tell you? That sometimes, things are not always what they seem."

This touches on what I have complained about in regard to my stepdaughter. In my situation, it is the opposite. It is us that eat healthy, and it is my stepdaughter's mother that accuses me of mistreating her daughter with healthy food.. because we don't eat out much, we don't give her soda pop, we don't give her dessert, and heaven forbid... I have fed her oatmeal, put peanut butter on her lunch sandwich, and gave her chicken noodle soup when she wasn't feeling well. And it is my stepdaughter that goes to her mom to complain... which results in her mom picking up the phone, with SD right there... to yell at us for what we fed her daughter. Yes, I know she is a child and her mother should be an adult & call us when she is calm, not entertain the child that is saying whatever she needs to for mom's attention or to get what she wants. My kids were manipulative, I agree all kids are so yes, the responsibility is with the parent to know that kids do that... I'm sure she does that to get what she wants with her mom. But, the difference to me is that when my kids did it, I had some level of control/power to say/do something to my kids.. but if I call my SD on it, she runs to mom and it starts another battle. Yes, we know it's the mom that creates the problem, but there is some frustration toward the child that does that... because when my kids were growing up, there is no way they would get away with or get attention for some of the stupid things my SD gets her mom going on... and at her age (going into 5th grade.. this has been going on since she was little), she knows the reaction she is going to get from her mom and she knows she is stirring the pot and there comes a time when the child has to be held to some degree of responsibility for what they do.

Is she testing our unconditional love of her? Yeah, that sounds good.. but in reality, there's so much going on with her trying to get her mom to love her or at least show love for her, since I think her mom loves her in her own way. The problem is, her mom thinks what she is doing is normal. She doesn't see a problem and doesn't want to be told she's doing anything wrong... and that's her right. We do things different and eventually, it will be SD that decides her own path. But, it's not realistic to make a general statement that it doesn't matter if the kids are bio or step because all kids push and do the same things... because it's WAY different when the kid has someone that will entertain all their 'injustices' that my kids just had to live with... can you imagine my own kid calling CPS because I put peanut butter in her lunch? When you deal with that sort of lunacy... it's NOT the same as when I raised my kids.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 2:10PM
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I totally agree Ima. It's different when it's my kid because I have control over the consequences. With SD, I can't do a da*n thing about what she does. She knows it and DS knows it.

For instance, a fews years ago we were visiting relatives and I told DS he had to take a shower after SD. SD kept putting off getting in the shower. This went on for about 2 hours. DH did nothing about it except tell her every half hour or so "did you take a shower? you need to go do it". Then she would wander around the house, call her mom, get a drink and it would start all over.

Basically I was powerless to do any kind of enforcement in the situation so I told DS to take a shower. While DS was in the shower, DH told SD to go get in the shower. She said she couldn't because DS was in there. DH got mad at me! But what else was I supposed to do? It's not like he was doing anything about it?

But just because I can't do anything doesn't mean I don't love SD. I love my neices, too but when they come ask me for candy or soda or if the can do something, I tell them they need to ask their mother.

In my relationship with DH, we've had 2 extremes. The first 5+ years we rarely spent a moment without SD. I had my own place so we didn't have the weekdays and DH had her every weekend. Even on anniversaries or Valentine's day, we were never alone as a couple. Even on weekends DS was with X. We went on 2 dates when we first me without her. Other than that, I can count on one hand how many dates we had. If he was given 2 tickets to something (which was quite frequent), I knew immediately that I would not be going. One new years eve, BM was supposed to have SD, DS was with X and I was excited to have DH all to myself. He actually called BM and requested to pick SD up that night at the last minute leaving me with a decision to go out with friends or stay home with them.

Then, a couple years ago things abruptly changed. She started getting busy with activities and then she moved. Now we have more alone-time together than we know what to do with and hardly any family time.

It's weird how things change. And they will change again. A couple years ago I would've never guessed that we would live our lives mostly without her when, at that time, we lived our lives mostly around her.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 3:24PM
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"I do, however, expect that step-parents will come to care for their step-kids, take care of them when they are in their home, and treat them as they would their own kids."

Absolutely agree.

Feelings are one thing and not always within our control. But we can always control our actions.

I don't *feel* the same way for SS that I do for DD, even though I have been in his life since he was not even 2. BUT I take care of him the same way I do DD when he is us---always have, always will.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 2:48PM
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