You’re not my Mom
The struggles with a blended family are often the struggles of being the step-parent trying to establish a relationship with step daughters. Especially, if the father had been a single father raising his daughter’s prior to your marriage.
The stigma of the step parent is a mighty one mainly because of the portrayal of the relationship between step parent and the child being anything but pleasant.
Although this is the typical stereotype, having a healthy relationship with your step daughter is critical in the security and happiness of your family. Not an easy task being 60% of second marriages fails due to turbulent relationships between a step parent and step daughter.
Being a step mom and not stepping on toes
He had been a single dad raising two teenage daughters for a while, and I had been single for quite awhile and was the mom of a nine-year old son with autism and my six year old little girl.
Although we both had been single parents for some time, the age of our children and the fact that I had one with special needs grew to be a concern.
He had only had his daughters full-time for the past two years, where I had been a mom with mine all their life. So, the concern was there on my behalf as to how he and his daughters were going to take with me and my two young ones. Especially one with autism and being the only boy.
Things were great when we were dating. But, once we married and became a family, boy was there change with my step daughters. Some of this I take the blame, some, I lay off the girls, but a lot I blame on their dad.
What do you mean wash dishes?
I was raised in the south, in a home where we had chores to do, and we did them without asking any questions. My resentment started early in the marriage when I began to realize I not only became their stepmother, I became their maid.
My step daughters had no responsibilities around the house, and whenever I mentioned this to their dad, he went to their defense instantly. His reasoning was when they moved in with him; all they had to do was their laundry.
Well, this was obvious from the looks of the house when I moved in with them. Tension grew between me and my youngest step daughter. She is very close to her father, and he refused to do anything to ruffle her feathers in fear of her wanting to go back to her moms.
I backed off, and things within my marriage begin to crumble. I felt my children were treated unfairly not being given the same attention he gave to my step daughters, and I resented this, big time.
So, are you just THEIR mom, or what?
As you can probably guess where this led, the straw finally snapped, and my husband and I came to blows. Well, not literally, but, I said I was leaving, and he said, fine.
The day this happened just happened to fall on the day of my step daughters sweet 16-birthday party that I had done all the leg work to make special just for her.
After about one hour of sitting at home stewing, I decided it wasn’t right for me to miss her party whether I was angry or not. I also wanted to talk to her, one-on-one. The time had come that we both needed to be heard.
The conversation between my step daughter that day changed the direction of our relationship as well as everyone else’s in our blended family.
She had lost the relationship with her mother over time and felt all she had was her dad. Then, I came along and in the beginning I didn’t introduce my children to them, so, therefore, all she had seen from me was my undivided attention.
That is until I began to allow our two families to mingle; then we married, becoming one. My time was spent mainly with my two little one’s not expecting my teenage step daughters needed me as much as my little ones did.
Truth is, the children of a blended family need more love and attention than what we give them credit for. What we as adults are asking them to do is understand and accept grown-up problems, when they are still struggling with the grief of their family splitting.
Then you add other children that are receiving love from a mother that they aren’t receiving from their own anger and bitterness, and jealousy kicks in overdrive.
Through our talk that day with my step daughter, I realized she needed me as a mother to her as much as my children needed me. All this time I was trying not to step on her mother’s toes was really putting a wedge between myself and my step daughter.
Removing that step and just being a parent
What is important for step parents to understand is, kids need time with their biological parent, but they also crave one-on-one time getting to know and trust their new parent.
Step daughters are different with the new women in their life because they see her as a threat. Make sure you give your husband and your step daughter their time to do things together as they once did.
With that being said, make sure you carve out time to do things with just you and your step daughter that will make her feel you want to be around her too, and not just your spouse.
If your child is the step daughter, make sure she understands that your spouse is not the blame for the breakup of her family. Watching your own daughter become someone’s step daughter is just as terrifying.
How the new person in your life treats them is as critical in your eyes as how you would treat them. Demand respect from your spouse to treat their new step daughter as he expects you to treat his daughters. That mutual respect goes both ways.
The bottom line is to love one another as a family you married to become. When we married, I made sure I included all our children in our service so that there was an understanding we were two families merging to become one.
All six of us lit our unity candle together to remind us of this sometimes battle. But in the end, sharing our love with each other has become a beautiful thing and those “steps” have been easily removed.