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I don't know if I 'love' my step daughter?

(20 Posts)
flixy102 Wed 28-Sep-11 18:16:17

Just wondering if anyone else feels the same way as me.
DH and I have been together 5 years (lived together for 4 of them and got married 4 months ago). Have known DSD since she was 8, she's now 13. She comes to us one day in the weekend, usually a Sunday but lives very locally so can really see her whenever and occasionally keep in touch during the week via text, phone etc.
I'd say I have a great relationship with her, there's never been any difficulties with her (just her mother, which thankfully has all settled down now) and I choose all her Christmas/birthday pressies etc which I love doing.
The thing is, I don't think I 'love' her in a way a step mother should - obviously I want the very best for her in all aspects of life and would never wish any harm on her but sometimes I feel guilty that I should be feeling something deeper.
Maybe it's because I don't really have to be a mother type figure to her, she has a mum already and she doesn't live with us so I don't need to 'parent' her.
Anyone else feel the same?

brdgrl Wed 28-Sep-11 20:48:53

I can't say I feel 'the same' but I hope it is OK if I reply anyway.

I'm wondering what you mean by this - I don't think I 'love' her in a way a step mother should?

I rather doubt that there is any way a step mother should love a stepchild. There are so many different sort of circumstances...

Just reading threads here shows how differently people view that relationship, and what a range of expectations there are. I've read a couple of books about step-parenting that suggest that the level of intimacy to aim for is that of an aunt or uncle. I've heard other people suggest that it is the duty of a stepmother to love her stepkids as her own. I've read posts here by people who suggest that a stepmother can never really love her stepkids and is being intrusive and over-bearing to even try.

Personally, I think love is something that cannot be so easily controlled or created. In my case, with my stepkids, it has grown over time, out of being a family together, and I sort of assume that it will continue to grow. Part of that comes from the kids wanting to be loved, or letting me love them. Part of it comes from the everyday business of being a family, which in my case is maybe more clear-cut because we have the kids all the time. I can't imagine what it would be like if they were only here once a week, but I would hazard a guess that closeness (love, or anything else) would take a lot longer to develop. (I think the age of the kids matters, too. As does the relationship between the kid and their own mother.)

It might be better to ask yourself if you are, and if DSD is, content with the relationship and depth of feeling you have between you, or if you want something more. If you do want more, there probably are ways of cultivating a deeper relationship. If you don't, and if your sense is that DSD is happy, then why worry about an abstract idea of 'should'?

MaccyH Wed 28-Sep-11 21:45:44

flixy102, i totally identify with what you are saying, my DSS is 11 and I have been with his father for 3.5 years, married for just over a year. I have a good relationship with DSS who we have every other weekend, no issues at all, yet I wouldn't say I 'love' him or have deep feelings for him. I think I probably associate him too much with DH's ex & it is also hard as a stepmum when you can't get too involved in someone else's child's upbringing. I care for him, want the best for him but like you sometimes wonder if I should feel something more akin to love or whether this is fairly normal?

Think you are right that when a child doesn't live with you and you don't parent them in the normal way because they already have a mother, it is hard to define what your role is. Sometimes closer to an aunt, yes but then sometimes you have to step in and be mother but only temporarily. I think as long as all sides are happy with how the relationship is working currently then let it continue. No need to try to label your feelings or question if they measure up. Need to listen to my own advice as well & stop worrying about this! Hearing some friends' stories about relationships with DSC makes me glad that at least ours is relatively easy & sounds like you have done a great job of forging a good relationship with your DSS smile

flixy102 Thu 29-Sep-11 08:20:36

Thanks maccyH, glad I'm not alone!
Your right about not really having a role when the child doesn't live with you, I know I'm a stepmother but don't think of myself that way because I don't actually have a 'mother' role.
You also hit the nail on the head with being reminded of the dreaded ex! I/we don't have a particularly positive relationship with her (being difficult with money/other issues in the past) so sometimes it is hard to put those issues away and not out them on the head of the child, afterall it's nit their fault.
Reading about a bit in these forums makes me glad I'm where I am in my relationships with my DH and DSD, I don't know what the future holds for us but it makes me realise that it could be much worse.
It sounds like you have a lovely stepfamily and are a lovely step mum, keep going! smile

kaluki Thu 29-Sep-11 11:14:47

I don't 'love' my DPs kids. I don't think I should, any more than he should love mine. I am very fond of them and we get on really well, but it can't compare to how I feel about my own dc.
Don't feel under pressure to feel something you don't. I have grown up stepdd from a previous relationship and she told me she always saw me as a big sister rather than a mother figure when she was growingup. I was thrilled with that description and that is how I would like my DPs to think of me.

fairystepmother Thu 29-Sep-11 12:38:24

So what if you don't love her. Why should you?? Somehow there seems to be this stigma or guilt attached to step kids but I'm not sure why tbh as we are not their parents. They already have those!
The important thing is how you act around them and how you treat them. As long as you are pleasant to be around and they enjoy your company does it matter if you 'love' them? Course not....... Clearly you care for your SD a great deal - I think that is enough and it's lovely that you have that relationship already.

griphook Thu 06-Oct-11 22:37:36

I don't think it matters if you don't love her, as long as you care. I have come to realise that I don't love my dss. i thought I did, but i don't. I want the best for him, and will always make sure I'm here if he needs me. But I don't feel guilty any more, he has a mum and dad that love him, surely that's the way it's mean't to be

babyheavingmassofmaggots Thu 06-Oct-11 23:03:34

I don't love my DSD in the way that I love my own children and I am perfectly comfortable with that.

She's lovely. I care about her a lot, want the best for her and would hate for anything bad to happen to her, but thats the extent of our relationship and thats enough.

Beamur Thu 06-Oct-11 23:10:27

I'm stepmum to 2 and mum to one of my own and I love them differently but try to be equally fair and kind to them all.
I've known my DSD's for 9 years now and my fondness for them has definitely grown slowly over the years, I wasn't terribly keen at first, but always aimed to make them welcome and take care of them, but I think now I do it with a much happier heart. Things which I did because it was the right thing to do, I now do because I want to - and I want them to be happy as well as cared for.
I don't think there is a way that stepparents 'should' feel towards their DSC, it does depend on your circumstances and relationships. Personally, I think there is a way that you should treat them though, whether you love them/like them or not.

LaDolcheRyvita Mon 10-Oct-11 15:28:18

I have two very different step daughters. One has always been lovely with me, welcoming when DH and I married and is a delight to be around. Of course, I don't profess to LOVE her and I don't think you can really, not in the way you love your own unless you get them very young, maybe? I care very much for her, look forward to seeing her and there's a fondness that's genuine and heartfelt toward her.

The other one dislikes me. We do not get on and at this stage, I cannot imagine we ever will. This saddens me but after several years, I think it's just how it is.

I have never treated them differently and DH would attest to this.

Petal02 Mon 10-Oct-11 16:10:52

I don't love my stepson, I'm happy to do the usual domestic stuff, and accept that he's part of my life because I married his father, but that's about as far as it goes. I suspect I may feel warmer towards him if DH's Disney-style didn't stir up such resentment, but that's a whole different story.

flixy102 Mon 10-Oct-11 19:32:54

Petal...I think I know where your coming from, I think I may be more fond of my DSD if my DH didn't treat her as if the sun shines out her a%23$%. When we're together he treats us both the same, referring to us as 'his girls' and when I try explaining that I should be treated as his wife and not a teenage girl he doesn't get the problem!

LaDolcheRyvita Mon 10-Oct-11 20:04:22

Yuk. You're not one of his "girls" you're his wife! Have a word with the man.

flixy102 Mon 10-Oct-11 20:51:31

Lol ryvita! Yes I have had several words with him about it, the last time (a few weeks ago) I think it sunk in....eventually!

brdgrl Mon 10-Oct-11 21:06:58

oh, ick. have had same 'words' with my own DH. most recently over the fact that he tends to talk to me about world events in the same way/with same tone in voice when he disagrees, as he does to DSD.

annoying when i actually follow the news, have two higher degrees, am 40 years old, etc etc and she is 16 and does not know basic history, geography or current events...

flixy102 Mon 10-Oct-11 21:12:36

Brdgrl, I get that too angry. Sometimes DH will say something like, don't eat that before your dinner or what what your doing there and I'll have to remind him who he's talking to! And yes, I have a masters degree and she's 13 and struggles to grasp capital citys (which we were 'learning' yesterday.)

MizK Mon 10-Oct-11 21:12:38

My children have a stepmother who is very kissy kissy and huggy with them, which tbh seems to cause them embarassment! I think that looking at it from the POV of the DSCs mother, all you want/expect from a stepmother is kindness and for your children to be included in their father's family life where possible. Any love that develops is a bonus, it seems like you are a nice person and have made her feel really comfortable and encouraged her relationship with her dad - so really you should be patting yourself on the back, not feeling guilty.

sparkleflower Tue 11-Oct-11 14:40:46

I care very very much for my stepkids but Iv never thought for a minute they "need" my love as they have a caring mum of their own all Iv tried to do is be there for them when they've needed me and as a result I now have a lovely close relationship with my teenage SD not huggy-huggy but she knows she has a very close friend in me. You sound lovely so the "love" may follow in years to come, Flixy102 you sound like you're doing a smashing job of being a stepmum to me grin

steppingup Tue 11-Oct-11 21:08:07

I have a dsd and dss and I love them both so much. I used to struggle with it though. I have been with their dad for 3 years and we have just got married. Its only been the last year or so when I have been able to say that I love them. Not just fond of them. To be honest I don't know what changed. What I do know is that it doesn't matter if you love them, like them, or tollerate them. As long as they are looked after when they are with you. For me the only difference between a few years ago when I struggled and was just tollerating them and now where I love them so much is that I am happier. What I mean is that the kids and DH were not treated differently then, they still had my full care and attention. But I was not always happy about it. Its important for you all to be happy and not to worry to much about things. As long as your situation works for you all don't beat yourself up unnecesserily. I love my step kids and I tell them that I do. They tell me that they love me too smile

matana Wed 12-Oct-11 09:25:37

I love my DSDs as individuals in their own right and i have loved seeing their personalities develop over the past nine years (they're now 11 and 14!). Now i have a DS i can honestly say that the love i feel for him is totally different - all consuming, i'd die for him in a heartbeat. It doesn't mean i don't love my DSDs, or that i don't treat them equally to my DS (which i always try to), i just love them differently. Love is not, imo, something that can be measured. I love my parents differently to my DH, for example.

The thing i do struggle with though is that i am much, much closer to DSD2 than DSD1 and unfortunately i think a lot of that has to do with DSD1 being a carbon copy of her mum. I love her because she's my DH's daughter, but i don't feel i have ever really 'understood' her - an odd feeling when i have always been very good at understanding people. She is exceptionally hard to read, very closed and does not show her feelings. It's even harder now she's 14 and we're getting a lot of problems with her, stemming from the fact that she is simply incapable of communicating her feelings.

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