I have found it interesting during my tenure as stepparent how frequently others second-guess and in some ways undermine the influence I have with my stepchildren. Let’s be honest, the “Get out of Jail Free” card bestowed upon biological mothers is seldom extended to stepparents, and stepmothers in particular.
Our motives are questioned, our intuitioin negated, and yet, still, we are expected to devote (fully, in the minds of some) our time, energy, money, and resources for these children. Children, we are reminded in both subtle and not so subtle ways, that are not ours.
I had a recent experience with my stepdaughter that called into question again exactly what my role as stepmother is to be- confidant?, pseudo-parent?, adult sharing living space?, over-the-hill au pair?. Who knows? The role is so poorly defined, it is amazing that most of us carry on as well as we do.
My stepdaughter came to me seeking help. It was an obvious ploy on her part. Looking back, there was no mistaking in her gestures and words the message I was to receive. So, I sought help for her, only to be rebuffed by her biological mother, who insisted “all is fine”. And, as the biological mother, she has that right, at least how things are currently set up.
Stepparents can be recipients of all the problems (and we are told to be recipients with a smile on our face), yet we have little power or authority to make decisions that impact the child. Those, we are told, should be left to the parents. All of this makes rational sense, except for the part that is overlooked.
I do not make-up problems for my stepdaughter. I do not seek to become overly-involved in her issues. Yet, I am an adult whom she respects and admires in her life, and someone, in all honesty, she seeks out in her time of need.
By seeking help for her, am I tryingt to cause problems or make the biological parent look bad? No, of course now. What I am trying to do, what some fail to acknowledge that ANY stepparent is trying to do, is I am trying to RAISE my stepdaughter to be a healthy, confident, loving person. That’s it, and that’s more than enough.
As stepparents, we are not some gawking by-standers in the lives of our stepchildren. We are active, engaged people in their lives, people who by their very actions are attempting to RAISE children and all that this act entails. Our actions and commitment in relation to raising children that have entered our lives should be acknowledged and honored, not called into question.