In the age where blended families are more common than they have ever been, a huge number of kids are growing up with step-parents ingrained in their lives. And this can go one of a few ways:
1. The relationship can be impartial with the step-parent and step-child(ren) giving each other enough space to go about their daily lives without much thought for each other.
2. The step-parent and step-child(ren) can build a strong bond together, growing to love and appreciate each other.
3. There is nothing but anger and contempt between both parties, and the relationship sours. The step-parent ends up looking down upon the step-child(ren) and vice versa.
We would like to think that options one and two are the most common scenarios, and most of the time those relationships can be, or at least they can grow to be that way. But the reality is, there are situations where a step-parent can be cruel, mean, and vindictive towards children who are not of their blood.
I grew up with a step-parent, and she was not what I would call the ideal situation. In fact, I grew up resenting every moment she spend as my "parent." I wasn't a perfect child, but I felt as if she went out of her way to make my life miserable. It didn't help that she had a child who was the same age as me, which made things more complicated.
I didn't trust her, and she was smart enough to not really engage with me when my dad was around. When you are just a young kid, adults aren't really adept at believing children when their word is against another adult's. Every time I tried to speak to my dad about what was really going on, he would dismiss it as the ramblings of an angry, young kid.
It went on that way for many years, until I decided that I had had enough, and I picked up and left town to move in with my mother when I was 16. It wasn't until I had actually been gone for a few years that my dad started to realize that I had actually been telling at least a version of the truth all those years ago.
My step-mother, and the situation that I had lived through ended up putting a massive strain on the relationship that I had with my dad. It took nearly 18 months for us to actually start speaking to each other again.
It was rocky at first, with many ups and downs. To be honest it wasn't until I had children of my own that we were finally able to bury the hatchet. I was actually able to speak to him about how I had been truly treated by my step-mom. It didn't change anything, but it felt good that he actually started to believe me.
I was angry for a long time. I may not be as angry about it anymore, but I still remember, and I am not likely to forget anytime soon. But the dynamic has changed as I have gotten older. Now there are no secrets, it is what it is. We still don't like each other but at least now there is an understanding on a personal level that we will "respect" each other for the sake of everyone else involved in the soap opera.
I have chosen to be the bigger person, and it hasn't been easy. When my children were born I found myself fighting with the idea of what kind of relationship I would let them have with her. Honestly, I was a little terrified that they would face a similar treatment that I did. But honestly, it hasn't even become an issue, my step-mother has only ever met one of my children, once, and it seemed to go okay.
I now must decide how much my kids will end up knowing about what I had to go through as a kid, and at what age they are old enough to find out and make decisions for themselves about if they want to have any type of relationship with her.
Every step-parent and step-child relationship is different, and there are men and women who step up to the plate to raise other people's children as their own. What was your experience?