Every time they planned an outing, all the kids would get excited except one, his daughter Kelly. She never wanted any part. Every time they did household chores as a family, she refused to participate. All the kids loved it when Jane (the new stepmom) cooked their favorites, except Kelly. Jane was miserable. Kelly was winning, and Jane was losing… she felt powerless. This was not what Jane signed up for!

Or was it? What did Jane sign up for? Did she sign up to be loved, respected, and adored by his children? NO!

She signed up to marry her husband because she fell in love with HIM – not his kids. Of course, included in the package were his and her kids. Intellectually, she understood that but had no idea what it really meant. Kelly was the one who taught her.

Kelly pushed Jane’s buttons! She challenged her. She acted out her feelings to the point where Jane either had to grow up and be the adult–or leave. What Kelly was screaming out for was an adult who would support her, care for her, and hold her accountable…and, most importantly, STAY.

Kelly’s biological mother lived far away, and she missed her. Jane’s presence didn’t fill the void and only made Kelly miss her mom more. Luckily, Kelly had her daddy, as well as her siblings and stepsiblings who she loved.

Over time, Jane was able to empathize and understand her stepdaughter’s grief. She was able to get on her level and witness her anger and tears. Slowly, Kelly got used to having her stepmom around, and they became friends.

In Jane’s own words: “The funny part is that while Kelly was my biggest challenge, she also gave me three big gifts.

1. She pushed me to grow up and act like the adult rather than the powerless stepmom who wasn’t getting her way.

2. She needed me, and as I calmed down enough to understand that, we began to bond.

3. She forced my husband and me to communicate our feelings as a stepcouple. She brought us closer together.

Thank God for Kelly.

Who and what are the Kellys in your stepfamily?

Susan Wisdom LPC
March 2008

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