Are we bullying our stepchildren into allowing us (step parents) into their space? Sometimes, I wonder. Many define bullying as persistent, unwanted behavior perpetrated by people who feel inadequate. Over the years, I know that much of my behavior has been unwanted and I have certainly felt inadequate as a parent and step parent. Have I been an unwitting bully?
Has my mere presence forced my stepchildren to feel pressured to share their life story? Ideally, we choose the people in our lives to whom we would like to share our stories. We tell our best friends what is happening in our lives and how we feel about the events and people that we meet and see. We certainly don’t approach a stranger on the street and start sharing our personal feelings and family events.
Can you imagine being mandated to bring a stranger into your story? Isn’t that what we ask of our stepchildren? If we were to be honest, we really want our stepchildren to share with us. We want them to like us enough to see us as a confidante and a positive factor in their home lives. But, in most cases, we have been imposed on them.
The white elephant in the room is the story of their parents’ divorce and their feelings about that cataclysmic event in their life. That story can be a very personal and painful one, full of grief, shame, sadness and a myriad of conflicted feelings. I wonder if stepchildren feel bullied into sharing their deepest private worlds with their naïve step parents?