A Chinese legend speaks of the Red Thread- an invisible strand connecting those destined to meet. After birth, a soul’s red thread pulls a person into closer proximity to those he or she is meant to share life.
As a stepparent, I have found this legend, which I have shared with my stepchildren (ages 7 and 11), to be invaluable for providing a context in which we could share and love WITHOUT (and this is key) causing issues of parental loyalty to arise.
When I shared this story with my stepchildren, they were having a difficult time finding a place for their feelings for me. We are close, as the children spend 1/2 their time at our home and I am the one who sees them off to school in the morning, helps with homework, etc. So, of course, as with any caring person in their lives, the children had developed a sense of attachment for me.
It’s never simple, though, with children of divorce. I felt they were beginning to sense a loyalty conflict, which is common in this situation. Their mother does not like me and speaks poorly of me- another common situation in divorce. All this does, though, is create confusion for the children- their instinct is to like me, yet they are not told positive things about me from their parent. What do they do?
(As a note to parents to divorce, at the end of the day, it is NOT YOU who must get along with a stepparent- it is the CHILDREN- PLEASE RESPECT your children enough to support the relationships THEY MUST MAINTAIN. A child who is shuttling between homes has no choice but to, at times, try to get along and manage 4 adults- that is a LOT OF WORK- don’t make it any more difficult by undermining the relationships the children work hard to build. )
So I passed on the legend of the red thread to my stepchidren, and said they were my Red Thread Childrern. When I told them this, it was late in the afternoon, and I really doubted either were paying attention, so anxious were they to go outside. My stepson ran upstairs to get his shoes and ran back down and asked me, “Do you see it?” I could not determine what he was talking about. And he said, “Don’t you see it- my red thread? I am connected to you.” I thought – maybe the message did get through.