Recently I have been thinking about the impact my stepfather had on my upbringing and home life. He wasn’t abusive to me in a physical or sexual way but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized he still affected me in a negative way.
It has made me think of the expectations society teaches kids to have when they become part of a stepfamily. Cinderella had an evil stepmother and evil stepsisters. Is that what children should expect when a parent marries someone who is not their biological father or mother?
In thinking about this I realized that had accepted the stories of horrible stepfamilies as okay. It was expected that the person your biological parent married would never love you or treat you like their own. Stories tell us that stepparents hate the offspring of their new spouse and will act accordingly.
But you know what? It’s not okay.
When my mother married my stepfather I was forced to call him Dad because his military background would allow nothing less than the respect he demanded. But he was not my dad. I didn’t actually know what a “dad” was because my real father was never married to my mother and he never lived with us. In fact by the time I was six years old I didn’t see him again until I was almost a teenager.
My mother was already abusive when she married my stepfather and his presence didn’t change anything. Into the marriage he also brought a son whom he did not want (he was a product of a previous affair). Neither of us was wanted by this man and I felt it everyday.
My stepfather never showed affection to his son or to me. the only person he was affectionate with my mother. It was very obvious that our presence was not wanted and that he barely tolerated it because I was packaged deal with my mother. I remember frowns of disgust and hard looks that told me how much he wished I wasn’t there. We faked it in family pictures but I’ve always been good at smiling when required.
People may say that he and mother never had time to be alone together because they both had kids right off the bat. Well guess what? That’s what you get when you marry someone with kids and if you don’t like it then why the hell are you marrying that person?
Living in a home with an abusive mother and a man who seemed to wish I was dead was not a happy time. I had to call him “dad” but he did nothing but pay the bills. He wasn’t allowed to physically discipline me as they had decided that each parent would (physically) discipline their own child, but he took out his disgust and anger on my stepbrother. I remember listening to his screams when my stepfather would beat him with the belt. It makes me sick.
And they wonder why my stepbrother got out of the house as fast as he could? Why I moved out the second I could?
I don’t care what the fairytales say. Maybe it isn’t always possible to love kids who aren’t yours by blood but if you can’t at least like the child or children your perspective spouse has, you shouldn’t marry them. Children can tell when they are unwanted and it affects their whole lives.
(I do believe that there are happy stepfamilies out there. This is about my own experience)