Gretchen’s story is heart warming. Childless, she married a man who had a young son. The bio mom had full time custody. When the boy was 6 years old, his bio mom got sick and died not long after. Dad and stepmom took over raising his child. Gretchen, of course, wasn’t expecting this! She hardly knew the boy. And she wasn’t happy about it.

The boy wasn’t just any child. He was ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and not well socialized. He was a boy of few words. When I met Gretchen, she complained, “He’s just weird! He won’t communicate.”

Over the years, she’s struggled in her effort to raise her stepson. “I just want him to get along in the world, be responsible and have friends.” Now that he’s in high school, she says, “He’s still just ‘weird’. She says he’s a loner but a whiz at his favorite computer game. Exasperated she asks me “Why won’t he just talk to me and tell me what he’s thinking and feeling?” I always tell her, “I don’t know why, but that just seems to be the way he is.” (Not exactly soothing or supportive words.)

Recently we’ve been talking about the deceased mother, what happened to her and what affect it might have had on her stepson.

When I saw Gretchen recently, she was different. She told me about a breakthrough she’d had. She suddenly began thinking about her stepson in a different light. She found herself thinking about all he’s been through and the horrible loss he suffered when he was just 6. The mother he knew and loved went out of his life. Gretchen got in touch with how sad that was. She felt sorry for him. Her feelings changed from impatience and anger to empathy and sadness. She was upset and tearful.

She’d now like to reach out and talk with her now 16 year old stepson about his loss. She wants to tell him that he is cared for and loved… and always will be. She knows full well he’ll probably not have much to say. But that’s okay with her.

Susan Wisdom
October 2009

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