Childrearing

Anonymous Mom: I Don’t Love My Stepchildren

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Anonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

Two years ago, I married a man with two children who are now 10 and 12 respectively: one girl and one boy. The stepchildren live with us one week on, one week off. When friends ask how I’m managing, I am so appreciative. I explain that it’s…okay. The children seem to like me enough and I like them enough and, frankly, that’s enough for me.

Suddenly, I went from having no children to having preteens living with me, sharing my space, and taking over my television. My life has changed dramatically.

Truth be told, I don’t feel I need to love them and I haven’t let myself even fall in “deep like” with them either. I love their father, but I don’t understand stepmothers who profess, “Well, I love my husband so of course I love his children.” I just don’t have that bond.

I’m okay with this.

At first I did try to get to know them. This always ended up with me buying them something, because there is no handbook for stepmothers (or maybe there is, but like every snowflake is different, so is every family and every child.)

At first I did really want to get along with them. We do get along. We never argue. They don’t complain about me. We’re like roommates. But I can’t help but keep them at arm’s length. I’m one of those women who think, “Of course I like children, as long as they’re not mine.” Well, my stepchildren are not mine. They will never be mine. They are old enough to know I am their husband’s wife, not their biological mother, and that’s the way I like it.

One of my friends went to family counseling with her blended family because they had issues with respect and boundaries. My friend told the family therapist she just wanted to be “the best mother she could be to them.” The therapist told her, point blank, that my friend will never be their mother, so she must stop with that expectation.

My friend had the best intentions in wanting to be the best mother she could be to them, but the truth, like the therapist said, is that she never will be their mother.

I am not an evil stepmother by any means. I will say hello, make polite talk, ask them about their friends and their day, make them dinner, drive them to friend’s houses when their father can’t, and will even occasionally go out to dinner or a movie with them and my husband. Mostly when they are with us, I let them do their thing with their dad while I do my thing.

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