A bit of a furore came to my attention last week; It concerned a ‘discussion’ on parenting forum Mumsnet as to whether a woman was wrong or right in not allowing her 24-year-old stepdaughter to stay with her and her husband in her flat whilst looking for a job.
Feelings from the audience were heightened – with many contributors not only ‘having’ feelings, but expressing them quite vociferously. I took this as confirmation that the age-old issue of Stepmums and boundaries was a heated and challenging as the days of fairy tale witches.
I’m always amused by how we all – myself included – feel the desire to get so het up about the lives and decisions of others. We don’t really know much about the circumstances, but we are ready to jump in – passing judgement in a Judge Judy ( VERY much my style ) sort of way! Whether it’s because we are all rulers of our little world – we are able to read a situation and act on it immediately – allowing us time to get on with the next thing.
So what was my immediate decision – should the woman be sent to the gallows, or were there some extenuating circumstances that could possibly be used in her defence?
Well, I know girls; I know they can be jealous. Protective of their father and not often happy to give up their roles as his ‘little princess’, even well into maturity. Sadly, they can often natural haters of the ‘wicked stepmother’ and on occasion troublemakers, particularly if they feel they’re competing for parental love and attention.
I also know women; I know they can be protective of what they have (especially and rather ridiculously in this case – ‘her’ flat – What happened to agree to share all our worldly possessions?).
I find many stepmums are burdened with a ton of parental responsibility, but very little of the unconditional love or appreciation, from either parent or child.
They may not like to admit it, but they can also be jealous of their man’s love for his daughter which is very often incredibly intense!
It can also be incredibly frustrating to see an adult woman treated like a little princess by a man you love, and to feel like you have no say, or rights to challenge the status quo, despite the impact on your life because said ‘princess’ isn’t your biological child.
I find many stepmums are burdened with a ton of parental responsibility, but very little of the unconditional love or appreciation, from either parent or child. It’s not hard to see how one would become resentful under such circumstances.
So – summing up – what does this embattled old warrior say – especially in knowing next-to-nothing about the circumstances.
I’d say; ‘Girl, be sensible. Go to the stepmother first. If you are genuine in your desire, then clear it first with her. You’re asking to be in their flat, following THEIR rules – it is only polite to do this, and if you can’t, then there’s clearly an issue and maybe that should be sorted – as it probably explains the whole reason for the situation’.
Woman; ‘Girls have a habit of going through life elbows first. They are often struggle with equality and respect for other women because in our society we don’t tend to treat women well. Talk to your husband rationally explaining your feelings – and get them both around the table and discuss. Lay down the rules; Set the agenda – and if necessary even write it down’.
I say girl, despite the age of this young woman, because our young people these days are that – young. They do tend to need more support than previous generations, but it isn’t a good idea to treat them like children forever.
There do need to be boundaries in place and respect for another adult woman that you wish to live with is a fundamental right. If either side can’t deliver that then both need to have a long look at their expectations – and how it is making the man in their life feel to be stuck so royally in the middle of the two important women in his life.
So easy to sum up with pure logic if you have no possession of the facts – but wouldn’t it be nice if people understood this.
It was last year when the idea of a site for other women like me dawned – active, busy and ambitious women who just happen to be older.
Firstly it was going to be just fashion, but very quickly I realised that if I were going to write anything – then it would have to have more meaning than just that.
I decided to incorporate lifestyle and wellbeing and make the whole thing truly interactive and inclusive. I felt that with these issues covered, then there really was no end to what could be discussed and discovered – and who may benefit as a result.