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Bonding with your Step-parent

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Tips on how to cope with a new step-parent and build a workable relationship with them.

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      26.10.2001 14:47
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      I am not sure that this is totally the right category,but I am sure it is near enough. Please bear with me? I am a step parent. I have been for 16 years. I am also a parent with four children of my own. I am writing this as my story is unusual- well, I hope it is unusual because I would hate to think of too many others going through the heartache I have. I have never met my step-daughters . There are two of them. I won't tell you their names as I suppose it wouldn't be fair, but I suppose it is possible that they, or somebody they know might use this site and point them in the direction of this op! One can hope, eh? Let me tell you my story: 16 years ago I divorced my first husband. Lovely chap- we are still friends, we just married far too young. We had three young children of 6,5 and 2. It was an amicable divorce and we shared custody and care and control. Their father eventually re-married and his wife has made a fantastic step-mum. She never treads on my toes and supports everything we have done for the children. So that has worked well. The kids have grown up into well balanced young adults. Two of them write on Dooyoo! Well, that bit went ok and that was good. BUT.... I moved in with a new partner after I divorced. He had two little girls of 6 and 2. Blow it! I will tell you their names as none of this is secret and it makes telling the story a darn sight easier! Tony my partner was living by himself when I met him. He had moved to Hampshire from the Midlands three years previously. We were absolutely devoted to each other and thought that this time things would work out well. He told me that he had never divorced but that he visited Helen and Katherine one weekend in three. I was more than happy with that arrangement.Because the girls were young and so far away it seemed better for him to go to the Midlands to visit them as they were rather too young to travel down on their own. He used t o rush up and down on the motorbike for speed. My children were part of our family and split the week up between us and their Dad. I thought that perhaps in a school holiday I would get to meet my step daughters.Tony and I both teach and that is when we can have a length of time for visiting. I hoped we could go and fetch them to stay with us. That is when I first realised there might be a problem. Fortunately at that stage I did not realise how awful it was going to be! I was told that they were not allowed to come to us as they were too young and their Mother thought it might confuse them. So I waited- they would surely soon enough be of an age to come. Perhaps we could both go to the Midlands and they could be introduced to me up there? No. Their mother would not allow it. I was getting upset and angry and put a degree of pressure on Tony to do something about it. He advised playing a waiting game. Waiting? Yes, I am good at that , here we are 16 years on- they are both at university and still I have never met them! A year later our daughter Caroline was born. We thought she was great and my children thought the world of her too. Now for Tony's girls, perhaps? No! Their Mother said they were too young and it was not fair to upset them. I pleaded and begged with Tony to do something. I tried talking to her about it. All I got was abuse- "your brat is never going to be allowed contact with my girls". I was horrified. Tony was furious, but he felt out of control. He was worried sick that if he didn't play ball she would not allow him to see the girls. This was all made more difficult by the fact they live a long way away. I asked him to get a court order, but he felt it would only inflame the situation. He felt sure that in time things would improve we just had to wait. I could not understand why this was happening. Did I have two heads? I spoke to my parents in law in desp eration. They told me that the wife had never accepted the end of the marriage and she hoped Tony would go back to her. This seemed odd to me, as she could have come to Hampshire with him when he got his new job but she chose not to! She had done quite well out of it, he signed the house into her name and did not take a penny. For the first five years that I knew him he paid every single bill so that she could stay at home and look after the girls. It made us very poor indeed. As the girls got older their Mother began a very thorough job of poisoning them against me and our daughter. I hoped we could go on family holidays. That was never allowed. Tony had to take them away on his own. It wasn't long before this put an enormous strain on our relationship. As our daughter got older she became quite worked up about not meeting her sisters. She feels it most keenly and I feel so sorry for her. Caroline has written to her sisters but they have both ignored her. This is something my other children find utterly bizarre. You would think there might be some curiosity there, wouldn't you! Well, you don't need all the gory details. This is the pattern of what has continued up to the present day. It damaged our relationship to an almost un-retrievable level. I started to blame Tony for being too much of a coward to sort it out earlier.He has always felt helpless and guilty. He is that sort of person! I have always taken an interest in the girls and what they are doing even though they won't have anything to do with me. I wish I could have met them ,if only once. They might have discovered that I am not an ogre. I am a teacher and my pupils all seem to like me. Some have stayed in touch long after they left me! My children like me- so they tell me! I am writing this as a heartfelt plea to any of you that have ex-spouses that re-marry. Please let your children become part of the new family. Y ou are not going to lose them. My elder children said they gained a lot from belonging to two secure families. Indeed the success of the broken marriage and my elder children was used as a study at our local paediatric unit, as they were so impressed. Your child's step parent is, more than likely, a very nice person. It is sad that your relationship did not work but being bitter and using your children to hurt the new family won't help. It won't bring your husband or wife back! It will only damage all involved, but particularly the children. Surely it is far better to open up a bit and to share your family? It must be better and more rewarding to know that you have played an active part in bringing children up to be well balanced and secure adults than to risk screwing them up emotionally. I remember one particularly horrible incident when Caroline was about eight years old. Her father had gone to visit his girls in the Midlands. He was at their house for a day or two and Caroline phoned him. His first wife answered the phone and when Caroline asked to speak to her Daddy she was greeted with a mouthful of abuse- don't get me wrong , this woman NEVER swore- she was a devout Christian. Makes you laugh, doesn't it! The woman then hung up on my little girl.How can an adult be so awful to a child? If you are a step child give your new step parent a chance. They are probably as nervous and uncertain as you! You never know, you might like them. After all you do have something very big in common- your Mum or Dad! Don't forget they love both of you. Try not to make it hard for them. They will always love you, you are their child.The human psyche has an enormous capacity for love. We can love very many people at once. Just because your parent loves someone else does not mean they do not love you! Thank you for reading this- I am not certain what I wanted to achieve and it is probably a load of drive. I suppose I hope d there might be one or two people I could reach out there who could benefit from this type of insight. Thanks for your time!

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        16.08.2001 03:19
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        Once upon A time there was a couple who married far too young and should not have married at all. They had two children. One was 7 and the other was only two. The inevitable happened after they were married for 8 years, they divorced leaving the two children in dispair. Thye did not understand what happened. All they knew was their Daddy had gone to live with their Granparents and was not coming home to live with them. The mother and farther tried everything to help the children. They used to stay with their Dad at weekends. Money was tight for the mother. She had to cope alone with the two children emotionally and fincially, the dad did not like to part with his cash. Lukily she had a great set of parents herself who paid for the girls to go on holiday and school trips. Then along came this star in the form of a man. He moved into the home with the two children and their mother, he worked to help support them and took care of all their troubles. After a good few years the couple married and the girls were bridesmaids. He adored their mum and tried his best to make the family happy. He was on;y 19 years old and took on this responsibilty. Not once did he complain. He brought up the two girls as if they were his own and they loved him and respected him back. He was there when they were sick, when they studied for exams he was the one by their side pushing them all the way. They still saw their father, but the gap widened between them as they grew closer to there stepfather. The mother and the step father had a baby who the two girls thought was wonderful, they loved her so much. There was never any resentment between them. As they grew alnog came the teenage years. THis for the poor step dad was hell. He indured all kinds of emotional torture. The eldest girl was good, kind and understanding and did not cause much grief. The second child was a rebel and could not be controlled. She would shout at him, never tidy her room and always stayed out late. Eventually she moved out with a little bad feeling between her and her parents. After she left she and had a child of her own she understood her step dad and she grew to respect him. Now they all one big happy family.

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