Below is a letter I wrote to my stepchildren. It is in response to letters they had sent to their father, essentially telling him to they wanted nothing to do with him. I came across it a couple of months ago. I re-read it to my husband (he saw it before I mailed it). I told him I felt maybe I came across a little too harsh. He said he did not think so. He told me it sounded like it was coming from a place of love (for him).
At the time, Stepdaughter was 16 and Stepson was 13. When my husband received the letters they sent him, I thought they sounded as though the words and feelings were coming from my stepdaughter. However, after this one particular phone exchange between my husband and Mrs Potato Head, I realized the children may have written the letters, but the words and most of the feelings were from their mother.
Being a parent is hard. Sometimes, being a stepparent is a little bit harder . . .
Thursday, 10 December 1998
Dear Stepdaughter and Stepson,
I have seen the letters that the both of you have sent to your father. They were identical with the exception of a line or two. Because they are identical, for the most part, I am going to write one letter and send it to each of you. This way here, there will be no confusion and you will each have a copy. Both letters have been addressed in this one. So, if you desire, you may send just one letter in response, instead of, the same letter with very little changed. Your letters did not come as a surprise – the writing was on the wall, so to speak. I am going to address the things in your letters. You are probably thinking that it is none of my business. However, because I am married to your father, it has become my business. Whatever affects him, affects me. I love your father with all of my heart and soul. I made a declaration at the beginning of our relationship that I will NOT stand idly by and watch him be hurt – by the two of you, my three children or anyone else – and not say or do something. I have said it to your father and my children, now I am telling you.
You may very well end up regarding me as the Wicked Step-mother from Hell. If that is to be, so be it. I can only hope and pray that, in the years to come, it will change. I speak honestly and from the heart. I also speak bluntly and get straight to the point. With having said that, I am now going to address your letter(s) point by point.
- You say that the letters you received on 17 November “would have been real nice if only it were true.” What your father said in those letters came from his heart – he expressed his feelings. He does not want to hurt either of you. As a fact, he wants to spend more time with you. You may not believe it, but it is true.
- You claim that his remarriage is not the issue. You told him to stop listening to me about what I don’t completely understand. Let me set you straight on something – I understand a hell of a lot more than you think I do. You both are attempting to put the blame for all of your life’s problems onto your father’s shoulders. I am not saying he is innocent. What I am saying is that you have TWO parents and two step-parents. Therefore, the blame for whatever your problems are should be shared by all.
My father abandoned his wife and five children when I was 12. My brother and sisters were 10, 9, 8 and 8 respectively. His last words to us were, “See you this weekend.” Guess what. That weekend never did arrive. In 20 years, he has NEVER called, NEVER written a letter and he damn sure NEVER came to visit. You should be grateful for the fact that you have a father that loves you; one that calls, writes AND visits. He may not have shown how much he loves you in the past, however, he is trying to correct that. He is changing little by little. I ask that you have patience and that you communicate with him. No matter what, you are his children and he loves you.
- You both claim that you don’t care whether he’s married or not. You also claim that he is hardly in your lives and it has very little to do with you. You are both wrong in that thought process. I am married to your father and you now have two step-brothers and a step-sister. Because of that very fact (our marriage), we ARE a part of your lives. It may not be on a daily basis, however, when your father comes to visit, we will ALL be coming to visit. What happens with your father does have an impact on your lives.
- I don’t know what your lives were like before I met your father. You may very well be speaking the truth when you say that you are happier since he left. You say that the only thing he did was hurt your mother and take up space in the house. Let me tell you right now – it takes TWO to be in a relationship. What happened between your parents is between THEM. They are the adults that were involved in that relationship. Therefore, whatever happened between them will have to be resolved by them.
You were both young when your parents split. However, you were NOT too young to have a general understanding about what was happening. You had a good relationship with your father before the divorce. Do you think he’s changed so freakin’ much that he no longer cares??!!?? You both need to sit down and listen to your hearts.
It is unfortunate that you do not want to hear your father’s side of the story. That way, you could have both sides and then pull the truth from the middle somewhere.
- With regard to your visiting your father here and him asking you to decline, I can say this…You know your father. You know how your father does not always make things clear. I have a feeling that he did not clearly state his reasons why he wanted you to decline or for how long he wanted you to decline. In the entire time that we have been together, he has stated his desire to have you both here. The duration of the stay would be up to the two of you, but he DOES want you here.
Stepson, with regard to your trip to Mexico, if I remember correctly, YOU stated that you did NOT want to go. You said that the only reason you were going was because Stepdaughter would not go without you. Stepdaughter had made the comment that your mother was supposed to be getting the money put together by Wednesday. Obviously, she never did. Therefore, the issue of the two of you “losing your chance to go to Mexico again” is actually a non-issue. You are picking piddly things in your attempt to put all the blame on your father.
Before either of you begin to throw stones, you had better get all of your ducks in a row. In plain English – before blaming someone, get all your facts straight.
I am not trying to make your father appear innocent. Lord knows that in the year that we’ve been together, he has made his fair share of mistakes!! However, they are learning experiences. We pick up the pieces and move on.
- With regard to the rape, Stepdaughter, I am going to be brutally honest. As you know, I was raped at 13 by a man claiming to be a police officer. I did not tell anyone until I was 17 ½. For over four and a half years I lived in silence with the shame, the guilt, the disgust and many more emotions. I did not think that I had anyone that I could tell. I was molested by my mother’s best friend’s husband at age 6. I have been raped twice as an adult. One was date rape and the other by my former husband. Each and every time, I have dealt with every emotion – ALONE. I did not even tell my counselor when I was in counseling. In your letter, you attempt to put blame where blame should not go. It is NOT your fault. It is NOT your mother’s fault. And, it is NOT your father’s fault. Put the blame where it belongs – on the rapist. I cannot say what happened on the day that your father found out because I was not there. However, I can say that whene3ver your father discusses it, he can barely contain the rage that he feels toward the son-of-a-bitch. So, do not think for one single minute that your father does not care. When you said you passed the counseling and everything, you made it sound as if you were taking a pass or fail test. There is no passing or failing. It happened, period. I understand every last damn emotion that you have with regard to the rape. It is NOT an easy thing to live with. However, it has happened. You are no longer 10 years old. If it is still affecting you this much right now, then it is time to see a counselor, a priest or get involved in a support group. It takes time to heal and learn to live with it. Doing it alone is not easy. I know because I speak from experience.
With regard to your surgery, Stepson, it was your mother’s responsibility to contact your father. He should have been informed well beforehand. Like Stepdaughter, you are attempting to put blame where it does not belong.
- As far as support and any other money issue is concerned, that is between your father and your mother – NOT the two of you and your father. Be grateful that you have a father that IS paying support. As a fact, he is paying MORE than what the courts ordered him to. As far as the money not covering “even one medical expense”, that’s what your damn dependent ID card is for. There is no reason that your mother should be having outrageous medical bills when the government pays 80% of the freakin’ bill. If she is electing not to use the ID cards, then it is her own fault. However, as I stated earlier, this issue is also between your parents. As I said a few sentences ago, be grateful that he does pay. My father NEVER
- Ok fine, your minds are made up. I can only hope and pray that one day you both will change your minds. Your statement, “I don’t want to be around just so that you can flash your new life in our faces” is a jealous and childish statement. I sincerely doubut if wanting to be around you and sharing in his happiness is considered ‘flashing’ his new life in your faces. You claim that your father’s new life does not have much to do with you and that you don’t care. Well, if that statement is true, then (a) you would not have made the freakin’ statement to begin with; and (b) you would want to come out for a visit. You both are bothered by the fact that your father’s new wife has three children. Those three children are doing something that you cannot – see your father every day. Those are perfectly normal feelings. If you remember correctly, I told you that I was a step-mother at 19 through my first marriage. So I am familiar with what you are going through. I had to deal with major resentment from Daughter (my oldest) when your father and I first got married. You both have never had to deal with step-siblings before. I do know that when I found out that my father married the bitch he ran off with and then had a child with her, I was very angry and very bitter. No matter what, the bottom line is that your father loves you with all his heart and soul.
- You stated that your father divorced you when he divorced your mother. If that were true, do you think that he would bother to call, visit, send cards and letters or even pay support? Hell no he wouldn’t!!!! The ‘keys’ to your relationship are NOT buried, they have been misplaced. Your father is attempting to find them. It would be nice if you both would try as well. He knows that he made mistakes in the past. He is now attempting to ensure that those mistakes are not repeated. It is going to take time. We all know that. You may not be interested right now, but in my heart, I feel that there will come a day when you will.
- You both claim that you do not care whether or not he adopts Son Number Two and that you feel sorry for Son Number Two. Do NOT feel sorry for Son Number Two. Neither of you should feel sorry for anyone. However, it’s obvious that you are feeling sorry for yourselves. Your father may not be there physically, but you both know damn well that he is only a phone call away. Both of you are now old enough to pick up the phone and dial the number. You have both the 800 number to your father’s office and the 800 number to our house. If you honestly did not care, you would not have mentioned it at all.
- You claim that neither of you will ever tell him to get out of your lives, however, the very essence of your letter says otherwise. Your father made it PERFECTLY clear that he will NEVER tell you to get out of his life. He also stated that he will ALWAYS love the both of you NO MATTER WHAT. He did not attempt to lay any damn guilt trip on you. He did, however, express his feelings. He was and still is deeply hurt that you do not want to spend time with him. Children (10 and under) play the tit for tat games. Adults learn to forgive and move on.
What I mean by tit for tat games is this – your father had asked you once to decline an invitation for you to visit. You both were hurt because you thought that he didn’t want to be around you. So now, when he invites you again, you are ‘paying him back’ by basically telling him to screw himself. Granted, you didn’t come out directly and say it, but the message came across loud and clear. With having said that, which would you rather be treated as – young adults or young children? The decision is up to the two of you.
All throughout both letters, I heard Stepdaughter talking. Stepson changed only a few things to make the letter suited to him. We know how Stepdaughter feels. What I want to know is how Stepson feels. I want to know in his own words.
Personally, I feel that this entire situation should be dealt with face-to-face – with both sets of parents present and the two of you. Then, everything could be laid out on the table. That way, EVERYONE involved would have the chance to say their piece. It should be done on neutral territory so that no one would feel intimidated or anything else.
The bottom line is this…Your father loves you very much. If he didn’t, he damn sure wouldn’t be depressed because his children have basically told him to piss off without coming directly out and saying it. He may have a new wife and children, but we do not fill the space in his heart where you children are.
I can only hope and pray that in time you will find it in your hearts to open the other half of the door. I will never have the opportunity to do that with my father. You two do.
I realize that I have come across as a Mega-Bitch from HELL. I do not nor will not apologize for it. As I stated at the beginning of this letter, I speak honestly and bluntly. Whether you realize it or not, you both are now a part of my life as well. I will speak to you as bluntly and directly as I do with my own children.
I also hope and pray that one day we can build a good relationship. I do not want to have animosity between us.
If you do not understand something that I have said, pick up the phone and call. I’ll be more than happy to clear up any misunderstandings. You know that you can call any time of the day or night.
I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts. Take Care.