In the beginning, I wondered why my stepkids were so mean to me. They avoided me at all costs. They wouldn’t do what I asked without a fight. They always ran to their father for protection and excuses for noncompliance. He usually came through for them.
I felt confused and powerless. I didn’t know what my role was, but I knew that what I was doing wasn’t working. Why did they hate me so much? I always felt like the bad guy.
One day, to my surprise, I had an opportunity to chat with my stepson. I guess we were driving in the car… or something like that. It was just the two of us. We started talking about our family. He admitted that when we got together, the kids wanted nothing to do with me. They liked being with their Dad alone. Then their dad was free to play, take them places, go fishing and camping…just hang out!
Then I came along and stole their dad away. Everything changed for them. Dad was divided between his kids and me. My stepson said, “We didn’t want you here. We did everything we could to make it bad enough for you to leave. We tried to break you and Dad up.”
I heard him and began to understand what it was like for the kids to have an outsider move in on them. I began to believe how important it was for kids to spend quality time with their biological parents. I also began to appreciate my stepson’s willingness to talk honestly with me. We began to build a relationship after that – him and me.
Can you find the time and space in your heart to talk to and listen to your stepchildren, even if what you hear may not be pleasant?
Susan Wisdom, LPC