Hello Auntie,
I am a woman who got married to a man who was married before. His first wife died and he has a son from that marriage. My problem is not that my husband was already married and has a kid. My problem is that his son is attached to me, but his maternal grandparents don’t want him to be attached to me. They don’t even allow him to talk to me or respond to my messages or calls when he is at their place. His mom’s sisters are jealous of me and keep reminding him of his mother by showing him her pictures and saying, “She is your mother.”

My husband is good with me and the children. We are a happy family and are ideal in many ways. His son doesn’t even talk to his own father. The other side of the story is that my ‘mother-in-law’, the boy’s paternal grandmother, wants him to be attached to me, but she also gets jealous when he spends time with me. Only my God knows that I am very sincere with my husband’s son and try to treat him like my own child.

I just don’t understand the situation. What should I do? I need your advice.

Dear Pleaser,
Thank you for having a heart and trying so hard to be a parent to a child who is dealing with the loss of his mother.  It is unfortunate that those around you are unable to see your good intentions for the child. The main issue seems to be that your husband’s ex in-laws are probably not happy that he has moved on with his life and remarried. It is unfair to expect a widow, a widower, or divorcees to remain single after a spouse’s death or the breakdown of a marriage. Everyone has the right to move on and find a new partner. Trying to prevent it and putting obstacles in the way is just controlling behaviour.

‘How can I have a good rapport with my stepchild?’

I don’t know how things are between your husband and his ex in-laws, but he should talk to them to stop any unjustified misbehaviour directed at you and, more importantly, to work on how the families will work out day-to-day parenting. You should be a part of all such conversations and any discussion around this should come from a place of love, keeping the needs of the motherless child supreme. Your husband should make it clear that the focus of all such discussion will be for the benefit of your stepchild.

For your part, don’t overdo the love and pampering with your stepson. It is not easy being a step-parent and you will need to play this by ear.

At the same time, encourage your husband to spend one-on-one time with his son. Your husband is the only biological parent your stepson has and if you are keeping the child’s needs supreme, then he deserves a strong bond with his father on his own. There shouldn’t be any competition between your husband’s love for his son and you. There is enough love to go around and you should know that.

You haven’t said anything about how long you have been married. Fact is, you need to give your blended family time to gel and for people to get used to each other and develop a shared history.

While you should work on developing a relationship with your stepchild, please understand that you are not his biological mother. If he or anyone else ever reminds you that you are not his mom, accept it, because that is the truth.

And if, at any point, your stepchild or his maternal relatives are rude to you and try to make you feel unwanted, understand that it is not about you. They both are dealing with the untimely loss of your husband’s first wife and sometimes these things take time to be worked though. Don’t take it personally.

As a step-parent you will be walking a fine line, so always come from a place of love for your stepson.

I wish you the best of luck.

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Published in Dawn, EOS, June 28th, 2020