No One Loves Your Children

Yeah, Grandparents love your children, and Aunts and Uncles love your children. Friends love your children, but it’s a distant sort of love. You can hope that a few key people will love your children, and you can help your children be likable and enjoyable so that a larger community treat them kindly.

No one loves your children like you do.

Should the unthinkable happen, there would never be a man I could love like my husband, because he’s the man who made me a mother. When I look into my children’s faces I see him. I love my husband a little more every day, the love we have for our children knows no bounds.

When my daughter is a pill to one of her friends I go through a process. The first thing I do is look at the other child and think, “eh, he/she had it coming.” and I think about buying her an ice cream cone and going on my merry way. Fortunately I don’t act on this first thought, and I’ll end up sitting down with my daughter and trying to help her come to better resolutions with friends, coaches and teachers. My instinct is to protect my child. My actions are to consistently to give her opportunities to be a better person, to allow her to grow and to widen her reach.

I wouldn’t do for another child all that I do for my own two kids. I might for a day or a weekend, in a crisis I would help, but there would always be that deep and intuitive love missing. I look at my own stepparents and I think they love my children as any grandparent would, but I know if they had to choose their own children or me, they would choose blood. Now that I’m a mother I love and respect them all the more for that. It’s okay, it’s not hurtful, we are all parents, it’s a love you must experience to recognize.

There’s the blended family fantasy, the only blending done is between husband and wife. His kids are always his kids, her kids will always be hers. He will love his children more deeply and profoundly, she will be the lion at the gate of her brood.

I get upset at times, watching families pretend they are unified, and it’s not because I want them to walk around donning signs that say “I ache” or “I know I’m loved a little bit less”, but the false cheer is quite problematic. Pretending like the blend is just a new group of people living together is asinine. When there are two little boys, I know she loves her son more, and he loves his. It’s simply a fact.

Last night my father made mention of a lady my Grandfather had dated after my Grandmother had passed. I use the term lady loosely, she used all sorts of things loosely. I will never forget sitting at the dinner table at Chinois on Main when her breast slipped out of her shirt. I was about 19, and she was in her early 30’s with a four year old boy. I wished no one would notice us, but Chinois in those years was a place where everyone noticed everyone. Roz (bewb lady) called recently to tell my Dad some things about his father. My father, in turn tried to relay them to me.

I didn’t want to hear it.

I don’t want to hear information about my grandfather from a woman he never really belonged with. I don’t want to hear about my family from the outside, because I don’t want to pretend that bringing in all those extraneous people really matters. I never forgot that she had a child, and I never forgot that she dragged him along. It wasn’t fair to him, none of us loved him, or even liked him, he was just a poor kid being dragged around town so his mother didn’t have to hire a babysitter.

I’m loyal and a little more private than you might suspect.

I know you won’t say it out loud. But I know you love your children a million ways and you love everyone else’s children a hundred ways. Even if the other children belong to your spouse. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you human.

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  1. I love my adopted child as much as my natural child. Yes. As much as.

    Sorry you don’t have the capacity to believe that is possible. Sorry you think my family is ‘asinine’ because only one of my two children passed through my vagina. What a sad thing to say. Who are you to determine love and what others are capable of? Speak for yourself if you are so shallow, but don’t judge those of us with big enough hearts to love their adopted children as they do their birth children.

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      Oh gosh, I wasn’t ever thinking about that. I don’t think of adopted children as being any different than children we birth.

      It’s the stepfamily situations I was referring to. My apologies if you were offended. Yes, I believe children come to us in different ways.

  2. I agree with you completely. I see it in other families and I see it in relationships with “cousins” whose mom married my uncle. I am close and adore his 2 kids, hers come to family functions, but I didn’t grow up with them so we don’t have the same bond. I don’t dislike them, but really deep down it feels like they are intruding. When I count how many grandkids my grandparents had, the number in my head is 7, but due to a 2nd marriage after we were all grown up, there are actually 10 now. It’s kinda awkward, but I love my Uncle so I do my best to be friendly and act interested in the extra relatives, even though I actually don’t care to know them.
    I will say that since my husband is not the biological father of my daughter, I wondered how the dynamic would play out. Looking back now that she is in college, it played out really great for us. I guess because way before he met her, and we were just dating, I explained to him how dating me meant a lifetime of always being 2nd to her and that if he ever even tried to make me pick beteween them, he could be 100 percent sure I would never pick him. I was determined to never let my failed first marriage or my entering into any future relationships change her status in my life. So when she was 4 and he had proposed, I explained to him that he would also have to follow the same rule. He had to put her best interest and needs above mine as well or it was a deal breaker. I needed him to be more committed to be a good Dad first, and husband second. He adopted her a couple years later, as bio dad was an idiot and gladly gave away his rights. We all make mistakes, mine was clearly marrying an idiot the first time.
    So I look at my grown daughter, all the years that have passed, and I really can say that my husband without question that he considers her his own and she has made it clear she has only one father and it’s my husband. He never had any biological kids of his own as I kept miscarrying and the fact that my ex was out of the picture certainly made life less complicated and allowed us to bond as a family.
    Many people who don’t know the history would never guess she didn’t have his DNA. He was a good choice. He is an excellent Dad. Oddly, his own mother is closer to our daughter than she is her own biological grandchildren, but I think that has more to do with the fact that she clearly favors my husband over her other son. The other son is a selfish, alcoholic who abandoned his first kid and then married someone else and made 3 more only to ignore them so he can be an alcoholic. Nothing like setting a good example for your kids. But that’s a story for a different day.

  3. p.s. adopted children are also exempt from the step parent topic. We are considering adopting from Thailand in the next couple years and I will love them just as much as I love Kayla.

    You are correct Sara. I was adopted, and I know my parents love me as much as my little sister.

  4. It is a complex situation. I love my children in ways that I can properly express. But I love all of my nieces and nephews in a similar way.

    As for blended families involving step children, well I see your point but I don’t think that it is applicable in all situations.

  5. Every family is different. When I met my ex, she had 3 children.(1 with 1 husband and 2 from another). Anyway, I knew from the start that they were all part and parcel along with dating her. As time went on I learned to like them, and eventually love them. At the end they were my kids, as much as they could be. I never used the word “step” even though it was obvious they were.
    When she and I were talking about getting married, her oldest daughter who was about 8 or 9 asked if she could call me daddy. I told her mom not until we were married, as I knew it wouldn’t be fair to the kids if something happened.
    Even though I loved them and they me, it was never easy. I knew they had a “dad” somewhere althopugh both were more like DNA donors.
    I also heard “You’re not my dad you can’t tell me what to do’. But, I always tried to treat them as if they were my biological kids.

  6. Hey Jessica,

    I don’t know why I am jumping into this, but here it goes.

    I don’t know if I agree with you or not. But I think it is really interesting that there is a disclaimer for adopted children. Because frankly, that is illogical. If you can’t love other people’s children as much as your biological kid, then adopted kids are shit out of luck.

    My guess is that you throw in that thing about adopted kids because it would just be too tragic too be totally consistent. It would be horrible if adopted kids aren’t loved as much. But if an adopted parent can love their adopted kid as much as a biological kid, then it logically follows that a stepparent can love a stepchild as much as there own.

    Just saying.

  7. I also have an adopted son and love him fiercely — just as I do my biological child.

    I also think steps can love their spouse’s children just like a biological child IF a) the stepchild enters the new family as an infant/toddler and b) there is no active bio mother/father. Two moms? Nope. The step mother will always be on the losing end and won’t invest. Two dads? Hell no. Men will try to compete and then will stop caring.

    I do agree that no one loves the kids you love in the same way that you do. Too many mothers lose sight of that.

  8. I’m adopted. My siblings are all adopted. My nieces and nephews are biological to my sibs but still not connected to me genetically. No one in my family on either side looks or acts or thinks the slightest bit like I do. And yet they love me and I join the circle of wagons without question – just as they do.

    My first husband’s family was adopt-o-phobic. They were the kind that married and abandoned ties for their children and in-laws. When he was diagnosed as terminal – they didn’t even know how to hitch up the wagons, so forget about circles and singing “kumbaya”.

    As a teacher, I was ring side for many an appalling display of genetic cannabalism. So I don’t buy this “genes” theory of family. I think it’s crap. I think it’s what people tell themselves to make themselves feel better because their parents didn’t do a better job when they married with children already or to discredit those of us for whom blood isn’t a necessary ingredient.

    I love my step-daughters. I still have a lot to learn about them and they me, but there is no line at which point I wouldn’t lift a finger. My husband loves my daughter. They have passed the point at which he will have parented her longer than her dad did. She doesn’t know what “step” is, he is Dad. His late wife’s in-laws accepted us without question – they are a blended family of several generations themselves.

    Do people outside love your child as you do? I would never say never. There really is no impossible when it comes to who you love and when and where. Unless, of course, you rule it out in advance.

  9. I respectfully disagree with you.

    You are just bat shit crazy on this one. I think the blanket statement that no one can love YOUR kids as much as you do is wrong.

    You have not had the experience of bringing a child into your home to learn that love grows. Surely not every step-child is loved equally but to make a blanket statement that a step parent can’t grow to love a child as much as their own biological offspring is ludicrous.

    How would you know?

    If that were true, people would never adopt other people’s biological children.

  10. It is true that most of the time blended families don’t always mix that well – but there are exceptions to everything. For example, a close friend of mine thinks of her step-father as more of a father than her biological dad and even though he has a biological daughter as well he has a much closer relationship with his step daughter. (Wow – that’s confusing – blended families are complicated!) And likewise there are plenty of biological parents who are pretty apathetic towards their own children.

  11. ugh, this is a tough one for me.

    My older son is from another relationship. My husband and i married when he was just 1. We now have another son who is 2 and another one on the way. I believe in my heart that my husband loves them all the same, in fact sometimes I think he prefers to be with my oldest just because they like a lot of the same things.
    Sometimes I torture myself (and him) by asking him questions like : If your car went in the lake and you could only save one, who would you pick?

    Because somewhere deep down, I know his answer. Although for some sick reason I want to bring it to the surface. :(

    like you said, it’s human nature.
    but it still makes me very sad because I don’t ever want my oldest to feel like he doesn’t belong or isn’t as loved.

    thanks for ruining my MOnday! (kidding…a little)

  12. I appreciate that you have the gall to shed light on the truth behind blended families and how some step parents might feel differently about their spouse’s children. My mother married a widower when I was 15 – he had two children, ages 13 and 10 at the time. My step siblings were a bit younger when their mother died and many of my family members and mother’s friends have long felt that my mother should’ve risen to the occasion and fundamentally understood that her step children needed a loving, affectionate mother. She provided them with every opportunity she afforded me, including a fantastic education, tutoring when both fell behind, counseling and psychiatry for my step sister’s mental health challenges, unlimited access to extra curricular activites, traveling the world, and more. But what others often criticize is her lack of tender affection and love towards her step children, although my mom was never been and will never be an outwardly emotional woman. She was raised in a Victorian household by a mother who was taught to never show emotion towards anyone. So, it comes as no great shock to me that she’s never been able to bestow great warmth and affection upon her step children. Privately she’s often told me that she feels she can only be affectionate with me, her only daughter and I’ve always understood that. But I’ve also seen how the scrutiny of others has contributed to her insecurity about being somewhat of a cold person. It’s easy to criticize from afar but I think until you live in a blended family, you can’t truly understand how some don’t feel the same bond with their step children as they do with their own blood. It’s impossible in any circumstance to force oneself to love someone “just because he/she should” – kudos to you for saying so.

  13. For me the difference between adoption and step parenting is that in adoption, generally, both parents are committed to the process of creating a larger family unit, usually(but not always) without ex wives and ex husbands intermingling into the equation. I don’t think my husband and daughter would have had the ability to bond as parent and child if my ex had remained in her life past age 2. The complexity of having an extra dad around would have created a situation where my husband would have been less willing to act as her father, leaving her bio dad as the “dad role model”. My daughter would have felt torn, is bonding with step dad betraying bio dad? It’s a fascinating topic if you try to really dig down and dissect it.
    I can try to assume that because my grandma loves her son, she would in turn love his step children. But because she has passed away, I can’t actually ask her. I would imagine that, because she held her first 7 grandkids as babies, watched us all grow up and was an active person in our lives, she would have a deeper bond with us and the addition of the 3 step grandkids who were all young adults would be warm, but lack the depth that comes with years of relationship. I can only guess based on how I feel I would react in the same scenario. OF COURSE, I would love my daughter’s kids. But if there were step kids involved I wish I could say I would WANT to love them the same. I would wish I could be that kind of person, but if they were older and they already had a mom and maternal grandparents, it could hinder a deeper relationship with me. UGH. I hope I don’t ever have to be put in the position to find out.

  14. I am going to leave in a comment something that I’ve been unwilling to say in my own blog. My stepson’s mother died this summer, after a devastating two year illness. He is living with us, and yes, I love him like I love the children that I gave birth to.

    If there were the Sophie’s Choice of “you can only save one”, what would I do? I’d be fucked either way, because I have three now. And life’s not like that. It’s not choosing one kid over another. People love who they love, and there’s no way that I love my stepson any less because I’m not his mother.

  15. Yeah. All love is different. Parents even love each of their own kids differently. Even if they are monozygous twins with identical DNA.
    You also change the kind of love you feel after you’re burned by someone, like if your kid screws up big and goes to jail. But yeah, you still love them.
    Love is not a mathematical function.
    So what?
    X
    Supa

  16. *Very* interesting. It makes some sense that having the kids join the family at a younger age would integrate them more, but I can also imagine people adopting teens and loving them fiercely. I just don’t know. Can’t know, being ‘just’ an auntie.

  17. Do I love my stepchildren as I love my children? I don’t quantify my love. As each of these children has come into my life, I have learned something new about loving, about the heart’s capacity for love, and the joy that loving brings to those who give it, as well as those who receive it.

    Each child has taught me something new. Each day brings a new lesson. I’m lucky. I love them all (six of them) and they love me. I would never ask “how” they love me. Love is different every day.

  18. I personally hated being a step-child. I knew that my parents’ new spouses didn’t love me. I know that my dad’s wife never liked me because she had to share my dad’s attention. I can see both sides of this issue. Being a step child sucks.

  19. I think it depends on the family and the particular people involved. I certainly love my husband (not a blood relative) more than many of my own blood relatives – who to save from a burning building? – not a question. On the other hand, my pain-in-the-ass brother or my equally annoying brother-in-law – also not a question – so I think it depends on the people.

  20. One of the reasons I like reading your blog is because you have a gift of the extreme in your opinions and a flair for your proclamations.

    I think in this case, every family is different. While there is truth in what you’ve said (and I’m not referring to the adopted children debate that started in the comments), I don’t think the truth is universal.

    In my case, it is true. Although I do love my stepdaughter, very much, I have kept my distance. Her mother tells her that I am a whore and not part of her family. It’s hard to forge a deep relationship with my stepdaughter when every time she goes back to her mother’s house, it’s being torn down again.

    It’s not her fault, and it’s not fair. I try daily to be a better stepmom to her and to love her more and more.

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  22. I agree wholeheartedly with you Jessica, I know for a fact that no one can love my biological kids like I do, and I can never love anyone’s kids as I love my own, If anyone tells you otherwise, its because their trying to fool themselves. I think that you can love your stepkids and care for them, but it can never be compare to the love you have for your own biological kids. There is a difference between love and loving as much as your own.

  23. I think this post speaks more about your experiences and capacity to love and receive love than what the world is doing/feeling.

    It sounds like you had a rough time with stepparents, etc. and now you’re making that assumption about all stepparents. I couldn’t disagree with you more. A close, loving family is a close loving family because they make an effort to love and support each other — not because they share DNA. I personally know healthy stepparents/children relationships that are indistinguishable from those of healthy biological parent/child relationships.

    Love is powerful. Let go of your past and keep an open mind. Travel more. Talk to people. You will be amazed at what you discover beyond your little corner. These black-and-white categorical imperatives that you defend will just keep you from enjoying the full breadth of love. And telling those you love how you feel shouldn’t be a resolution, it should be as natural as breathing.

    Good luck!

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  25. You are so right , my spouse and I just told some friends of ours , much to there disgust , that we did not love each others children . But we don’t . We tried to¬†¬†pretend for a long time and clearly it wasn’t working . We went through hell really , when were wern’t being honest , but when we finally came to grips with it . Things got better . We just got honest about it and realized , you can’t love anther persons child the way you love your own , and if someone says otherwise ,they’re lying!!!

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