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When I was in college, a palm reader told me I would be a writer and a movie star. He also told me I would have
three children, but that I could marry into them or adopt them; I didn’t have
to “pump them out.” At the time, having kids seemed like such a far-off
concept, but being a movie star sounded pretty good.
Cut to 2008,
when I met Steve, the man I would marry. He came with exactly three kids and a
grandson. At the time, the two girls were teenagers, and his son was in his
late 20s. I imagined that we’d all have a modern blended family dynamic—the
girls would be in and out of the house with their friends when they came to
visit us, and maybe they would borrow my
while the adult son seemed fine with everything, the girls didn’t share that
happy about their parents’ divorce—and what child is? They were wary of me,
and avoided all conversation. I felt so cautious about any word I said in front of them, in
case it would be taken the wrong way, or I’d come off too soft, too hard, too dorky, too serious. When we announced our engagement to Steve's son over
the phone, I joked, “I’m your new mommy.” Crickets. OK, not funny.
back is the best advice to give,” says Judy Osborne, a family therapist who specializes in stepparenting. She advises to not be too
eager to please in an effort to look good with kids. “That’s where people get into trouble, because
the women rush in too quickly to take over roles, or [force] an intimacy that
children are frightened by or affronted by. The most useful way to enter is to
make sure your partner knows what they’re doing and isn’t depending on you to
be a substitute parent in the relationship.”
been a stepkid myself, and now a new mom, I know that every dynamic with stepkids is different. Some people might have that blissful blend of respect,
friendship and love with their stepkids. And others still might be working on “Please pass the salt.”