I want to start off this letter with one important note—I am an interloper in this blended family equation and I know it.
Before I came along, you had your rhythms, rules and nuances to your co-parenting style and I’m disrupting it by my very presence.
I understand this so am doing my best to tiptoe in softly.
Although it is my role to help my husband expand to allow me into his life, it is not my role to determine how I will fit into the life of your darling three-year-old daughter. That will come naturally over time and it is my intention to err on the side of gentleness and listening versus bulldozing into this delicate structure.
You see, I grew up as a stepdaughter.
It was not a good experience so I learned a whole lot of how to do it wrong. I am grateful to have the opportunity to put those lessons to use here. I sincerely believe I have a lot of unique wisdom to offer in this role.
It’s understandable that you would be cautious of me. That’s your job. It’s not your role to accept me or be my friend but to take your time finding your way to feel safe with me.
I believe you will over time.
I will be around your little girl a lot and it’s Mother Nature’s law to have your guard up.
I wouldn’t expect anything else.
It’s not my intention to try to convince you of anything but to just be myself and let things unfold in their own way, in their own time.
However, I do want to make some promises to you so we start this off on the right foot.
1. I will treat your daughter like she’s my own although I will always know she is not my own. I will never bad mouth you or put her in the middle of you and I, you and her Dad, you and anyone. Her relationship to you is important to me and I want to relieve her of that “in the middle” stress.
2. I will follow the rules you set for your daughter without questioning them—to you or to her.
3. I will keep your daughter safe at all times. I will trust my own gut with this and it’s a good guide.
4. I will allow your daughter, over time, to decide who I am in her life. At times I may be her friend, her stepmom, her father’s wife and those roles may twist and turn even in one day. I follow her lead on this. I am not attached to any labels.
5. I want you to know that if there is anything that I propose for your daughter (a gift, a trip, a place to take her) that you feel uncomfortable with, all you need to say to me is “I’m uncomfortable with that” and that’s all the explanation I need.
6. You set the tone and timing for any communication with me. I’m just here.
7. I will see you as an ally, as a woman, and I’ll be here of help to you with your daughter in any way that I can but—I won’t push in to that.
8. I will always keep your daughter’s growth a top priority, and if she feels unsafe or uncomfortable in any situation, I will listen and respect that so she can develop her own compass in this world.
9. I will do my best to not spoil her, but not having been blessed with children of my own, I might overstep that. Know that I will back off if you feel I am overstepping.
10. Finally, I do (and will always) appreciate your sharing your precious daughter with me in any ways that you do and will value that in my heart deeper than you can imagine.
I embrace being a part of her “village” and look forward to all of the ways we, as a blended family, enhance each other’s lives.
With love and respect,
Author: Kathy Monkman Higham
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Courtesy of the Author