Saturday, March 31, 2012

When stepparents start claiming their stepkids as their own...

I know I already blogged today, but something came up that inspired me to write this post.  Technically, I am a stepmother, though I don't really know my husband's kids.  Even if I did know them, I don't think I'd ever feel comfortable calling them "my" kids.  And I seriously doubt their mother would want me to think of them that way.

My husband once referred to his ex wife's son as his son, mainly because he'd been led to believe the boy's dad was an abusive deadbeat.  Now that my husband's daughters have a stepdad who refer to their mother's husband as "dad", he's not so sure the ex told the truth.

Last night, I came across a blog written by a woman who clearly had two kids from another marriage.  And yet she was representing them as her husband's kids.  And a guy I knew in college, now on his second marriage, is calling his stepdaughter "his daughter", even though he's only been her stepdad for a few months and appears already to be on the brink of divorce.

I think these stepparents and bio-parents are hoping for a do-over.  They want to forget about that failed relationship that created children and wipe that non-custodial bio parent out of their collective memories.  They want everyone to see them as a strong family unit, even if they aren't, in fact, a strong family unit.  They want to discount biology and the contributions biological parents make.

This isn't to say that I don't think stepparents or adoptive parents have value.  They certainly do.  And this isn't to say that there aren't bio-parents out there who have truly abandoned their kids and abdicated their responsibilities.  However, there is no denying that biological parents make contributions that can't be taken away.  Every time my husband's ex wife looks at their younger daughter, she sees my husband's face.  Every time she talks to their older daughter, she encounters my husband's personality.  There's no way to wash away those innate characteristics passed on by my husband, no matter how hard she tries to deny them.  

I wonder if these bio parents who encourage their future spouses to take a parental interest in their kids would like it if the other bio parent did the same thing.  It would be great if parents whose relationships failed could all get along and see the value of four adults loving their kids... but most humans aren't that unselfish.   And if the subsequent relationship fails, I wonder how many of these former stepparents are still thought of as "Mom" or "Dad"?  Shoot... my husband was dad only so far as his financial responsibilities went.   He was expected to pay child support for his daughters and ex stepson until they were well into adulthood.  But that was where his "daddy-hood" ended, because ex replaced him with a more malleable partner.

Just something on my mind today that made me go "hmmm..."

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