Loving your stepchildren as your own

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The answer is simple, but not what you want to hear… no! At least not right away. It’s a pretty unrealistic expectation have so early in the relationship. Now don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with your bonus child’s behavior. My little 8 year-old guy is an absolute sweetheart! There’s no screaming “you’re not my mommy” in our home. He listens, he cuddles, he asks me to read him stories, he draws me pictures, he gives me hugs and kisses, he is very well behaved and overall he just a great kid. So that must mean there’s something wrong with me, right? I just don’t love him the same as my little girls. I love him like a sweet kid I nanny or babysit but that maternal bond doesn’t exist. If are one of those mothers who are lucky enough to already have that bond with your bonus children, I envy you! You have what many others charged with this same responsibility long for. You have achieved something wonderful and have a precious bond to show for it. You hear these stories and comments on forums of some stepmoms who testify that they love their bonus children just like their own and it makes you begin to think there’s something wrong with you. You know you should treat your bonus children the same as your own children. What about when your bonus children pull away and don’t want to cuddle on movie night, goes to sit on his own and gives sideways glances and watches you still cuddling with your own kids. Should you have your own children sit on their own too so that he doesn’t feel left out? Am I forbidden from lathering my own children in love when he’s around until we finally develop that bond? After all isn’t that how the “evil-stepmother” mantra was developed?

I remember one moment that impressed me in particular when my sweet, dear husband just held me while I cried and cried. I asked him what was so wrong with me. Why couldn’t I love his son like my own? Am I that stereotypical, horrible step-mother?

With his arms around me he simply said. “It’ll come. You are a wonderful mother and to have the kind of bond you have with your own children takes time to grow.”

After that I felt much better. I felt reassured that my spouse didn’t judge me and hold it against me if I needed more time to develop that bond. I stopped trying to fit the mold that I thought everyone else was expecting and decided to truly and slowly go at our own pace. The pace that fit my new little man and me personally.  It is important to remember that your little one is probably struggling with this new change as well. It is common for children to feel a certain betrayal to their biological mother if they open up and love you. They begin to withdraw and find something wrong with you, point it out and pull away. It is really hard to feel that motherly bond when love doesn’t seem to be reciprocated.

I still lather my children in hugs, kisses, cuddles and story times. He still pulls away sometimes. Now I just invite him to join us, FREQUENTLY! When he gives those sideways glances watching me love the other kids, I smile at him, sometimes with a wink to reach out to him in a non-physical way and let him know I am very aware that he is still there even if he isn’t in my arms. Every now and then I re-invite him to join us. He needs to know that he is welcome to be a part of the love we are sharing and if he doesn’t, then that his by his choice and not mine. He also needs to be reassured that he doesn’t have to if he isn’t ready. He controls the pace that will eventually lead to close bond between us. I will be here lovingly and patiently waiting for however long it takes until he is ready to move forward. In that sense, I DO love him like my own!

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