Recognizing a False Sense of Connection

by childless stepparent

I stepped back this week and had a big realization. When it comes to my husband’s daughter, I have often experienced protectiveness as love.

Trouble is, it’s a false sense of connection because she doesn’t need protection. No one asked me to involve myself in that way. Not my husband, and certainly not his daughter.

Nonetheless, I have been most engaged with her when my ego tells me I must step in because her mom or dad – most often her mom, who exhibits characteristics of NPD – has neglected her in some way. When I’m in that mode, I am passionately involved. I feel connected to her.

Something interesting happens when I take a step back, breathe, and let go. I recognize that she and I have very little in common. The sense of connection fades.

That’s okay. She is an easy child. I care about her and intend to help my husband create a happy home for her. I will be present and patient. I will let things unfold.

But I will no longer follow my ego and act as if I am somehow saving her. She doesn’t need rescue. I have exaggerated her needs – creating a sense of urgency where there is none, feeding conflict and competition with her mom unnecessarily – in order to feel useful. Truth is, my husband’s daughter is just fine.

The more I let go of that false sense of connection, the more I will allow an authentic connection with my husband’s daughter to develop. And I will leave the parenting to her parents.

Manifesto #1 | I am a childless stepparent. My stepchild has two involved parents. I don’t need to take on a parenting role.

Question: What makes you feel close to your stepchild? What connects you? How has that changed over time?