Help, I’m Jealous of My Stepchildren

One mom realises she is not the wicked stepmother she feared she was
By Chareen Boake

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Do you know that there are at least 900 stories, fables and fairytales with wicked stepmothers in the plot? I made this rather discouraging discovery when I turned to my favourite search engine looking for literature on why I was experiencing strange pangs of jealousy towards my stepchildren.
I’d wanted to find out if there were other desperate stepmothers dealing with similar emotions. Feeling jealous of one’s stepchildren is a taboo topic – not the kind of discussion that you casually bring up over a glass of wine with friends. You can talk about politics, sex and your husband maybe, but certainly not about jealousy towards two young girls. After all, who wants to be the clichéd evil stepmother?
I’d spoken to a few confidants about the way I was feeling and the response was always the same: “But you knew what you were getting into when you married a man with two children...”
My mind understood the logical implications of accepting a man and his children, but my emotions knocked me completely off kilter. For some reason, it felt as if there was a short circuit between heart and mind. My husband would cuddle up to his two girls and I would be jealous that he wasn’t with my daughter and me.
The more guilt I felt, the more jealous I became of the time they spent together. I was reluctant to approach my husband because I was ashamed of the way I felt and didn’t want to hurt or disappoint him. My guilt eventually led me to a therapist and when I explained rather sheepishly why I was there, she just looked at me and said, “oh, another one”.
I could have hugged her and whooped with joy. I had discovered that I wasn’t the only stepmom covering up these feelings and that many other women experience similar emotions.
After some counselling, I opened up to my husband who was more supportive and understanding than I ever could have imagined.
Through our journey together as a family we discovered that I wasn’t jealous because I actually was the evil stepmonster. My jealousy stemmed from being in an unknown place; feeling shut out, excluded, and disempowered when the girls were around.
As a family we’ve now learnt to compromise and include each other in as many decisions as possible.
One obviously has to be realistic; there are decisions regarding our children where only the biological parents have a say. But there are other decisions that will involve our new family unit.
My husband and I separately spend a day alone with our own children every so often and they have come to look forward to these “special days” with us.
He had no idea that I was harbouring these emotions because it didn’t manifest in nastiness towards the girls.
I had managed to acknowledge and deal with my feelings before they evolved into anything else.
I’m a long way from being a perfect stepmom and the green-eyed monster still rears its little head every so often.
But when it does, I try to put myself in the shoes of two little girls who are more afraid of losing their dad than of having to share him with someone else.
I’ve learnt that my husband doesn’t love me less because he loved them first and I have also accepted that, just because I’m an adult, I don’t always have to hide my hurt and vulnerability behind a facade pretending that everything is okay.
By being open and honest, even when it’s embarrassing and difficult to admit, I’ve found support from people who try to understand my dilemma and offer help rather than criticism.


Anonymous wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I feel the very same.

I think my emotions come from the fact that he separates us at all time. He is either spending time with me or spending time with his daughter. We could never spend time all together. I sometimes feel like he lessens the value of our relationship in an attempt to protect her feelings, but in turn, that hurts mine. We have spent multiple holidays apart (like Christmas ) and I think it is because of this reason.

Calypso wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'm glad I'm not alone. I knew what I was getting into when I started dating Arden. He's 57 and I'm 23. I knew about his past wives and his sons, but recently he discovered he has a daughter with an ex-girlfriend about 20 years ago. And so he learnt about her and how she badly wanted to see her father since it was kept a secret from her until now. I had mixed feelings. I was happy for him because he told me he wanted to have a daughter and also nervous because I didn't really know what to expect. Two nights ago, they finally saw each other and told me it was an overwhelming moment. I also met her that night. We're the same age. I understand the part where she was looking for a father figure because I have a step-sister who met her real father when she was in college. I'm just jealous of the time that they spend together; ironic because I was the one who told him to spend more time with her. I can say I'm also insecure because we're the same age. Jealousy is terrible and I've talked about this with friends and it kind of helped. Now I'm trying to just be cool with it and be open-minded of everything. It's a slow process but I'm determined to overcome it.

Anonymous wrote 5 years 3 weeks ago

I only wish my husband was so supportive and understanding. When his daughter is not around he has the "head space" to listen and even promised not to walk off and literally leave me behind when his daughter was with us. As we had an upcoming trip to the romantic city of Paris coming up (our first) and his daughter was coming, I wasn't looking forward to being the third wheel and have those two strolling off arm in arm while I'm still literally still sitting at the table finishing lunch. Well, he left me every single day. We fought every single day. He broke his promise and when I got upset, he said I was selfish, childish, immature. So much for our holiday in the romantic city of Paris! I was happier when I went off on my own, so I did. Perhaps there's a simile there? Pray for an understanding and supportive husband, or bury your feelings, self esteem and self respect as I have done.

Am I really the wicked step mother? Or are the insensitive promise-breaking Kings at fault here too?

Anonymous wrote 5 years 47 weeks ago

When I read this article it helped me a lot. I'm dating someone 10 years older than me and he has a daughter. His daughter and I get along fine; however, I didn't realize how out of place I felt when he was with her. It still hurts, but I'm also seeing my therapist for this.  

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