…on Being a Stepparent

NOTE.  This is one of a series of requested letters that is posted under “Form Letters” for those of you who would like an idea or a template for a letter of your own.

Dear Son-to-Be:

I’ve thought a lot about your upcoming marriage into our family.  I know that it isn’t my responsibility to foresee the future nor to second-guess the love I see between you. Yet I have this niggling concern for both of you.

It doesn’t matter how many difficulties I see in the future for both of you.  We have all had difficulties in our relationships.

And it doesn’t matter if I have reservations.  In my heart of hearts, there may be no one on the planet who would seem worthy.

My daughter loves you.  That is the deciding factor isn’t it?

I admire many things about you.  I respect the way you have taken responsibility for your own children.  No matter what circumstances defined the moments of their individual conceptions, or how you worked your way through the issues of staying, or not staying, in past relationships;  you “manned up” and comprehended that your children need you in their lives.

Your acceptance and inclusion of my granddaughter speaks well of you, too.  You seem to see her as your own and have made her a part of your emotional family.  This can be both a blessing and a curse and so it is where my concern lies.

As a parent we all have these secret desires to be the favorite.  We want our children to love us wholeheartedly and uniquely.  We want to be the most important person in their lives. As a stepparent, it is particularly difficult. It’s impossible to be the “only” and impractical to struggle to be the “best”. Our children and grandchildren can easily become a pawn in the battle of our own self-worth.

I respect your desire for a close family unit and understand that it feels safer to be exclusive in that. Blended families don’t have that luxury, however.  I worry that your admirable struggle to be the perfect parent may cloud your thinking. My granddaughter is embraced by everyone in each of her families. I want to see this continue and to see your sons included in this grand family circle.

My daughter loves and includes your children as her own. I hope that she isn’t threatened by their love for their own mothers. I urge you both to let that umbrella of love be all the currency you need in exchange for the love and respect the children have for each of you. Don’t judge yourselves or feel you must compete with the other parental figures in their lives.

I don’t know your boys so well yet.  But I see the anticipation in my granddaughters’ face when she talks about visiting her birth father and his extended family.  Her grandparents on that side have enfolded her in acceptance and love.  She is proud of her “father” and his joy in her. That ingenuous happiness is a priceless gift.

Please don’t quell that.  Don’t cause her to worry about mentioning her father to you, her “Daddy”.  Don’t extinguish the confidence she gains from being loved by each family that holds her in its arms.

I wish this for all of the children of this coming marriage; your boys (who will be my grandsons), my granddaughter, and any children that you might have with my daughter.  Let them all feel cherished and open.  Let them all feel free to move between the households that raise them as a village.  Let none of them feel that it is strange or unusual to have this huge assortment of names, generations, genetics, systems and places to call home.

Children adjust if they are allowed to adjust.  They accept if they are accepted.

Please take the lessons from your own and my daughter’s childhoods.  You have each lived in blended families.  Give your birth children and your heart child the freedom to be who they are in this melting pot of love.

Let the marriage begin!


Sept 2013

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