Do you love your stepparents

“The children will ask if you've tried everything.” Interview with Nicole on the subject of stepparents

Family can and may be different. Patchwork, adoption, rainbows: Fortunately, we live in an open and modern society where “there is family, where there are children”. At least most. Today I'm talking to my blogger colleague Nicole from “Sleepless Muttis” about stepparents and stepchildren. These are rather negative terms, just think of “the bad stepmothers” in Grimm's fairy tales. Is this family constellation a guarantee for conflict or is it the same with stepparents and stepchildren as in any other family? How do you keep in contact with the birth parents and what is it anyway, a “real father, a real mother”, does it always have to do with genes? I had a lot of questions for Nicole, who answered me very openly and honestly. Thanks a lot for this!

You grew up with a stepfather yourself. Was that always your "real father" for you? Or did you have two fathers, so to speak? How was your relationship then and now?

Yes, my father was always my real father. As with many other families, there were conflicts in youth and of course I lived in "open rebellion" at times. Back then I wished every now and then that my biological father would come ridden on a white horse and everything would be fine. I always had this idea that my birth father would allow me anything and everything would be better with him anyway. That was total nonsense, of course.

When I looked for and found him at the age of 23, the result was rather disappointing for me. He then wanted me to always get in touch and he would now know everything about my life. The whole thing totally crushed me, so of course there was a big conflict. My “stepfather” never forbade me to have contact or advised me against it. He has always supported and stuck with me all my life. I am infinitely grateful to him for this today. I love him and he will always be my real father. Biology or not. I am glad that we have a very good relationship with one another today.

Do you remember what it was like when you found out that he wasn't your biological father?

There was no direct point in time. I grew up with it. The fact that I'm the only member of the family with a different skin color couldn't have hidden it at all.

Now you have brought a daughter into your marriage with your current husband. At first there were three of you. What was important in building the stepfather-daughter relationship?

It was important that the relationship could grow in peace. It was a new situation for all of us and how to become a "good" stepfamily is unfortunately not to be found in any guidebook. It was a challenge for my current husband not only to have a wife, but also a daughter. My daughter was three years old at the time and knew very well who her dad was. We just took our time and it took months or even a year for my daughter to call my current husband papa. You can't take your child by surprise and say right away. "This is your new papa." That would have been too much. Love and relationship take time to grow. We all had to get to know each other properly and grow into the new situation.

When the child was born, what has changed? Was your older daughter insecure?

The first time was certainly difficult. A pedagogue friend said that she has no problems as a stepsister, but rather that she felt pushed from the throne. Anyone who has several children knows that it is a challenge for the big child to no longer be the cared for only child. We just made sure that we consciously integrate her and make her feel like a very important and indispensable member of the family. While I was looking after my little daughter, my husband did a lot of things alone with our older daughter. So she always had the feeling of being serious and accepted.

Contact with the biological father has been broken off. What is your tip: How can you manage to maintain a good relationship with your stepfather and your birth father?

That is a difficult question. I think there is no magic bullet. It is not without reason that you break up with your partner and unfortunately it is often the case that bitterness and hurt play a role. At the time I tried to leave that out and sought contact with the child's father. Sometimes he took care of himself a little and visited our daughter, then again he didn't. Sadly, the sufferer was my daughter, who often waited in vain for her father to move her again. As a mother, that hurt my soul and that's why I later turned on the youth welfare office in order to ensure regular contact. Unfortunately, that also failed.

Looking back today, I believe that there were fundamental problems in our communication and that was ultimately why we lost contact. I can only recommend every mother to always have the best interests of the child in mind, but still better than approaching the father too little. Because the children will ask one day whether you've tried everything. How good it is when you as a mother have nothing to reproach yourself for. Whether the father accepts the outstretched hand is up to him.

How is your husband doing in the whole story? Did you talk a lot about the situation?

Oh yes, we filled whole nights with it. I just wanted us all to be fine. I wanted us all to win, and in the end we did. It was difficult for my husband to be the father of my then three-year-old daughter. He didn't know her as a baby, didn't see her growing up, and it is precisely this fundamental experience that cannot be made up for. Today I notice how much he enjoys the first few months with our little daughter. He loves our big daughter and tries to be a good father to her. He takes her in his arms, comforts her, encourages her, but of course he also educates her. Quite apart from the biological factor, I would describe the relationship as a completely normal and healthy father-daughter relationship. Well, of course we worked on it and there were and are always conflicts.

When it comes to upbringing in particular, we sometimes have very different views, but I believe that this is not a problem for stepfamilies, but a completely normal circumstance. We have learned to be sensitive to each other and to take each other's thoughts and feelings seriously. Especially when my daughter misses her birth father, it is a little difficult for my partner. He is then sidelined and I talk to my daughter about this topic. She can miss her birth father. We would never deny this or ignore it. Our family life today was an uphill battle and cost a lot of energy, but it was so worthwhile to invest in our “family project”.

Thank you, Nicole, for talking to us!

If you want to find out more about Nicole and her family, you should definitely check out her blog Schlaflose Muttis.