Step-parenting: The good, the bad and the unhappy

All Woman

RAISING a biological child can be quite difficult, but being a parent to someone else's child can be twice as hard, especially when you are not committed, or the children seem to reject you no matter how much you have invested or try to build a relationship with them.

All Woman asked readers who have the task of parenting children who they had no part in helping to conceive, what it is like being a step-parent. Below they openly admit to loving, having mixed feelings, and even loathing their roles as a step-parents.

Jamesy, 43, site manager:

I remember when my wife was working, and at the time I was working from home on my construction company. Our household is Christian and so certain things are not allowed, which includes having a closed door when members of the opposite sex come over. My stepson came in with a young lady, barely greeted me, and went upstairs. About 20 minutes later I decided to check in and of course I go and the door is closed and I give a single knock before opening it. When I did, the teenagers were having sex. I kept my cool, asked the young lady to get dressed and go home, and he was there shouting that I had no right and what he was going to do to me. Soon after, the young lady came down, said she was sorry and left, all while my stepson was fuming. I allowed his mother and father to deal with it because I did not want to hear for the thousandth time that I was not his real father and that I should stop acting like it. He still hates me to this day because of it.

Jeffrey, 53, pharmacist:

As a step-parent I have a very good relationship with my children. They might not all be mine biologically, but it feels that way. As we say in Jamaica, if you love the cow you must love the calf too. I had the best example of what a step-parent is not supposed to be growing up, and I made sure that all of my children got equal treatment. I didn't care whose blood was flowing in their veins. So money, food, clothes, exposure, and special days, I was on top of it. I won't say it wasn't hard, but that was not for the children to know. Now they show me love and take care of me and I am happy I was always fair and I took the time to know more about them and help and guide them.

G, 34, practical nurse:

I have two stepchildren and I have to say it is one of the hardest jobs in the world. No matter what I do it is never enough, I have never met more ungrateful children in my life. They are 13 and 15 they have no manners, they act like the world revolves around them, and they are nasty. I don't know how to fix that, to be honest, and I try, but now when they come every other week I just want to scream. They don't want a relationship with me and that is fine, but I made it clear that they will respect me in my house and help with dishes and cleaning up after themselves because I am no maid. Sometimes I regret the situation I am in but I love my husband. I will tell any man to be careful the types of women you have your children with.

Vivian, 44, business owner:

I have had my stepchild since she was four years old. My husband basically went out and had the baby and brought the child home when the woman left. At first I think I was a terrible stepmother; I couldn't get over it, but then as I was raising the child I couldn't stop myself from loving her. I had two children after and they just blend together. If I buy for them I buy for her, and I do everything for her that I do for them, because as far as I am concerned she is flesh of my flesh no matter what people want to talk and say. Any bitterness I feel is towards my husband because the child is innocent.

Carlene, 37, marketing analyst:

My stepson, who I barely had a relationship with, came to live with us and I tried to be nice, buying stuff for him, and basically trying to help him to feel comfortable and fit in. About one week after he came there things started to go missing. I assumed it was him and took back the stuff I'd given him and wasn't treating him like the other kids. It turned out that a friend of my other stepchild was the one who was taking things. I have judged myself and cried often about it because I don't know what made me even think that that was the right reaction. These days I question myself twice when I think of solutions. I think he is still hurt about it, but he is so loving. I think I judged him because he was coming from a poor and desperate life with his mother who had kept him from my husband before she died.

Adam, taxi driver, 34:

Sometimes I don't want to be a step-parent especially since I don't even have a child of my own. I love them but I just think they are a burden sometimes and my girlfriend doesn't want to give me a child yet because of them.

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