Thu 17 Mar 2011
Brigette Lemos-Norman was my guest on The StepMom Connection Wednesday. While we had a great conversation, the technology didn’t cooperate and only half of our interview was taped. Therefore instead of leaving half a chat in the archives, I made the decision to pull the show. Bridgette and I decided to cross blog the topic so you can get in on the whole conversation.
The first taboo topic we discussed was: “I fell in love with my husband, not my stepkids”.
When you say “I do” to a man with children, you say “I do” to his children too. But while you are committing to caring for your stepchildren, you may not love those children in the same immediate, unconditional love that you feel for your own biological children or even for nieces and nephews that you have been involved with since birth.
Often times, stepmoms feel guilty when they don’t feel deep love for their stepkids. There is no cookie cutter way to love a stepchild. And the reality of stepfamily life is that the stepchild drives the relationship with their stepmother. If the child embraces you and the relationship flows easily then the love typically flow easily. If the stepchild puts up a wall either because they just don’t want to accept that dad is with another woman or perhaps their mom is not giving them “permission” to accept their stepmom, you can feel left in the cold.
One stepmom in the chat room during the show shared “I thought being a step mom would be easy… but so much depends on the bio mom and how she is with the children and what she imparts to them regarding the step mom.” We know these to be very true words.
Love and trust are given without question to a birth/adoptive parent but a stepchild chooses whether to love and trust their stepmom and to what extent. That choice impacts the relationship between a stepmom and stepchild.
Also, I think it’s fair to say that stepmoms can love their stepkids but not always like their behavior. And when a stepmom says she doesn’t love her stepkids, that doesn’t mean she is not going to take care of them, or treat them well or parent them to the best of her ability. It means she is being real about her feelings. While we are commanded to love one another under God, we also know that love can take many different forms and have different levels of feelings.
I feel it is so important for our community of stepmothers is to be careful not to judge one another. I think the reason that so many stepmoms feel guilty about saying what they are feeling is that they don’t want to validate that “evil stepmom” persona that the media has created.
You are not an evil stepmom if you don’t love your stepkids.
You are an honest stepmom.
It takes time for love to grow. If you are committed to your relationship with your stepkids and their dad, if you are committed to treating them with love and kindness then you are doing what you need to do.
Each stepmom has her own journey, and while you may not agree with how another stepmom feels and/or what she says, be cautious not to judge her character. Every woman is different and until we walk in her shoes (her past and her present), we don’t truly understand her. Because that is impossible to do, it isn’t fair to judge or criticize her emotions and actions. Disagreeing with someone’s words or actions is different than judging their character. The former makes for healthy discussion while the later fuels unnecessary discontent.
Only when we can all feel comfortable sharing our true feelings with one another can we remove the “taboo” label on topics and truly deal with our frustrations and work past them. You can feel isolated and lonely as a stepmom when you think you are the only one struggling with a certain topic. Knowing there are others out there that share your same struggles can be very comforting and encouraging.
What are your thoughts on loving your stepkids? Loving one stepchild more/differently than another? Do you feel this is a touchy topic in the stepmom community?
Make sure to visit Brigette’s companion piece at her blog InTheBlender
Next “Taboo” Topic that some stepmoms think but may not speak: “If I would have known what I was getting into, I would have never married you.”