Reality Sets In

This is a part of a series on stepfamiles. To read the previous post click here.

From Cinderella’s perspective, she has three problems in life. A stepmother, named Lady Tremaine and two step-sisters, Anastasia and Drizella. Never mind that Cinderella’s biological parents are not on the scene, we assume they died because real parents don’t abandon their children, at least that is our concept, only where was the extended family that would have swept in to care for their granddaughter, niece or cousin? Our questions remain unanswered. The only thing we know for sure is that somehow the universe has been very cruel to Cinderella.

That is probably the only truth for which we can be sure of. Cinderella has been given a raw deal. For whatever reason her mom was gone first. If you haven’t been a product of a divorced family then your perspective is limited but you can be sure that losing a mother or father in death or divorce is traumatic for a child. Compound that with a remarriage and the child gets the idea that people can be replaced. That isn’t such an easy concept to swallow when you’re a child because while the adults are thinking in terms of adults and romantic love, of failure and loss, a child is thinking that they themselves can be replaced, that maybe love isn’t forever, foundations are not really set and maybe down the road they will be put away for another.

You see, as adults we have a bit more understanding about love, but children are limited in their understanding. All they know is they have a mom and dad and they don’t want or need another. Only they’re children and they don’t get a choice. The choice is made for them and they are told they have to like it and get along. Well, let’s be real, that’s not so easy.

So the kids come with baggage of resentment and loss, of misunderstandings and misgivings and it’s all perfectly normal, only it certainly puts a wedge in adult plans doesn’t it? Walls quickly go up, feelings get hurt and trampled on all the way around, and well, we won’t even discuss the guilt the biological parent feels as they get caught in a trap of being in the middle of a war they call home. Reality sets in and it’s not pretty.

All camps begin to pull in opposite directions and territorial lines begin to be drawn. Any upset in a plan or ideal becomes a major deal and the fight is on. Parents pull for their own child and loyalties rise. Fights ensue among the newlyweds as both feel torn between their love for their child and the love for their new spouse. The children complain as they are shuffled from house to house and suddenly houses are fighting because they hear, as we did, only Cinderella’s side of the tale and it looks dark and dismal. No one considers that every party to this war has a point.

For a stepmom her challenge is difficult, and I dare say, even more than a stepdad’s challenge because a mother is called to calm and influence her home. She is the peace in a normal house and suddenly all fingers are pointed in her direction, not only from the camps within her home but society at large who faults her because people are not happy under her care. What she does next will be critical for the survival of her marriage and her family.

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