My stepson was a product of infidelity 5 years ago. He now lives with us full time and I’m having a very hard time with feeling resentful towards him and not being able to connect with him emotionally. His mom is not in the picture and I really want to be that “mother figure” in his life, but our bond is no different then two strangers meeting for the first time on the street. I find myself treating him differently than my own child and feel like I’m being the evil step mother at times. I hate it.
When I do try to hug him or be excited with him or have fun with him it feels so forced and stiff. I wish I could learn to love him and accept him as my own. I will express my feelings to others and they don’t understand. Their response is to usually look at me like I am the worst human being on earth because I can’t love this child or they’ll tell me, “Don’t worry, it will get better with time”.
I almost feel hurt that he doesn’t seem to depend on me for anything. He would rather go off with a complete stranger than be with me. That is most selfish statement. I hate admitting that. How can I work on my feelings of resentment towards him? Can we learn to bond? Is is completely my attitude that’s forcing the separation between he and I?
Hi there, It’s a tough situation when we’re willing to open our hearts and the “Other” isn’t interested, or in this case doesn’t appear to be interested. I’m hopeful you will join our group, at least as a Guest member at first to check out the member article which will help you understand that it is NOT your fault. Can you do some things to help you both? Sure. Can you reduce your stress and his by trying some new approaches and reframing the situation? Sure. Let’s talk about a few today.
As Stepmoms, it’s always a good thing to take an inventory of our beliefs about what a “good Stepmom” is supposed to do, not do, say, think, feel, etc. When you did this, you’ll discover that your beliefs come from a society that doesn’t value the role of Stepmom and clearly puts Stepmoms in the subservient disempowered, less than bio-parents role. Looking at our beliefs also gives us a chance to question them, change them, delate and add to them based on the woman you are and the situation you are facing. This is a good use of your time and taking the time to do this will show you the source of many of your emotional pressures.
On the site both public and members only, there are many articles and case studies about resentment. I urge you to read them. You’re right on about feeling resentful. Right now there is not a balance between what you are giving and what you are getting. Resentments tell us where we are experiencing a lousy deal in a relationship and is a great emotional alert system..once we welcome the feelings and choose to work on things. Your feelings are trying to help you see that things need to change. Usually on the outside and very often on the inside. Also, please take a look at the article about expectations, I think you may find some new ideas there also.
Your stepson: Every child who has lost a birth mother is deeply wounded emotionally. How people support this little one after the loss will impact how they view life, how they survive life. Connecting with you, means opening his little baby heart and his baby brain may just be too afraid of this pain. Screaming inwardly with the desire to be loved and the fear of being rejected again. Each child responds to the loss of a bio-mom’s love in different ways and I believe that they are all tactics to avoid, numb, deny pain and the fear of devastation. I’m guessing that his resistance to connect with you is also triggering some of your emotional wounds whether you see that or not..yet. This is how I’ve noticed it works.
If you look back into your life at his age and ask yourself how you were feeling, you will likely find some interesting memories and feelings coming to your awareness. Feelings that were not allowed, honored nor processed at that time. Right now, He’s a child and you’re the adult. What I mean by that is that you have access to resources he doesn’t. You have skills, abilities, talents, processing and thinking talents that he doesn’t have…yet. With this knowledge, you can make the choice to embrace this experience as a healing opportunity for BOTH of you. The BOTH part is very important, otherwise it can generate even more resentment, hatred and martyrhood (let’s not do that.)
Story: One of my friends fosters abused dogs rescued from horrible situations. He has an amazing love for these dogs AND he is compassionate about their pain. He is patient and when I ask him about how he does it, he told me that he works consciously to consistently show them it’s safe to be around them and then…he waits. He trusts them to make the choice to connect on their terms so it is their choice. One dog, abused from a pup by an evil man, didn’t come near Joe for almost a year. Yep, he cared for, fed and loved this dog from afar for almost a year before the dog allowed himself to be pet or lie near my friend Joe. Joe said he wept the evening that King came over to his recliner and put his head on his leg. That was almost 10 years ago and this beloved dog has changed my friend’s life and helped a several other dog’s heal in their home too. I hope you can see the reason I share the story.
As Stepmoms, we come into the lives of our stepkids because they have been disempowered by their bio-parents (via divorce without any say) and now thrown in with other parenting people, also without any say in the matter. This generates rage to the max but the little ones don’t usually know how to process this. Your stepson has lost so much and that has had an impact that has nothing to do with you yet seriously affects you. can you let yourself off the hook? So, w
On a metaphysical level, hat if you got together with his dad so you could help him heal?
What if loving your own child, caring for him from afar and giving him the space to heal, as you and his father love each other deeply is part of the divine plan? What if you look at all the ways this child is making you feel right now and turn your attention to healing the parts of you who are impacted?
Can you imagine how you could feel if you can made the choice to look at your situation as an opportunity to grow, healing and increased wisdom?
We come into our Stepmom roles with such “happy family dreams” and when things don’t work out as we hoped, it is going to trigger inner emotional fireworks. All your feelings make perfect sense and each one is going to lead you to more self-awareness, false beliefs to chance, new boundaries to create IF you are willing to get curious, creative and hold all your feelings in a loving compassionate way.
Right now, loving him from afar may be the greatest gift you can give him. Kids are very sensitive to our energy. They feel love, anger, etc.
What if you tried all kinds of new non-contact tactics to connect with him with a genuinely loving heart for a child who’s been abandoned by his bio-mom?
What if connecting with him means creating a happy safe place for him to just be, right now?
What if connecting with him means leaving him funny notes under his pillow, creating happy songs or stories he can find or read or hear whenever he’s in the mood?
What about giving yourself the gift of freeing yourself from expectations about how it should be and trust in your ability to make things OK for you?
You’re not being selfless to admit what you feel. He is going to choose strangers over you because the stranger isn’t possibly going to leave him again, like his mother did. This really isn’t personal to you. It is about the void that his mother ripped into his heart and it may well be that you trying to fit in there is just too painfully raw for his little heart and brain at this time. Can you find it in your heart to give him more time in a loving way? Can you see the sweet Soul who was devastated and take the longer term approach to loving him? In the meantime, can you give yourself, that child you used to be and yourself some extra TLC and attention? I wish this for you all. I know this is hard.
This role of Stepmom can really bring up feelings that scream for us to love ourselves in new ways.
We were all kids once and however we were treated and felt as a kid is likely to surface when the kids, stepkids, bio-mom and our partner don’t do as we expect.
The good news is that you can create a new mission for yourself.
There are ways you can help yourself no matter what the others in your life do.
I know this from personal experience.
I know this from working with others over the years.
You can make choices that bring you to a new level of awareness, self-love, wisdom and help you claim more of your rights and power as the wonderful woman that I’m sure you already are. You’re not doing anything wrong, it may just be time to try something else and take his reactions (and yours) as feedback for change.
This is a mission.
This is our mission here are “Stepmoms on a Mission.”
It it feels right for you, I hope you will join us.
May something here be helpful.
From my heart to yours, Cathryn
Copyright 2016, Cathryn Bond Doyle.