‘Be­ing a step­mother is a won­der­ful priv­i­lege’

The step­mum

Woman & Home - - Exclusive Interview -

Geeta Sidhu-Robb, 50, is the founder of Nosh De­tox, a nat­u­ral food de­liv­ery ser­vice. She lives in Lon­don with her two daugh­ters, Simi, 17, and Chaan, 15, and son Am­man, 21, from her for­mer mar­riage; and step­daugh­ter Emma, 15, and step­son, Jo­hannes, 20, from her re­la­tion­ship with part­ner Hannes. the in­dian cul­ture en­cour­ages a huge re­spect for fam­ily and i see all chil­dren as a bless­ing. i’d hap­pily have had an­other child – so to have two ex­tra in my home as a re­sult of my re­la­tion­ship with their father is won­der­ful! i make no dis­tinc­tion be­tween my birth chil­dren and stepchil­dren, and al­ways think of my­self as a mother of five. i love the strength and se­cu­rity that comes when there are so many of you in your fam­ily unit.

the role of step­mother can be chal­leng­ing, but Emma and Jo­hannes were five and 10 when i first came into their lives, and i think it helped that they were young enough to be un­ques­tion­ing of my au­thor­ity, so i was able to say, “this is the kind of par­ent­ing i’m go­ing to be do­ing.” Hannes sup­ported me in this and in the main we’ve man­aged to in­te­grate very well. the trick­i­est times were at the be­gin­ning when the chil­dren, who were forced to­gether, had to learn to re­spect each other’s dif­fer­ences.

When Emma is with us at the week­end she shares a room with Chaan; they’re the same age, but quite dif­fer­ent and it’s im­por­tant to recog­nise that. it’s an equal play­ing field at our house – i yell at every­one and care for them ex­actly the same. How­ever, ev­ery child needs some­thing dif­fer­ent from you, and when it comes to the girls, simi needs some­one to dis­cuss things with, Chaan a safe space and Emma needs my fem­i­nine strength and girli­ness.

We’ve bonded over shop­ping trips, and she’s also been very good about ad­her­ing to my non-negotiable rules such as no dat­ing un­til the age of 16. in the past two years, we girls have got even closer as the boys have been at uni, but it’s lovely when we’re all back to­gether.

Emma says…

i was quite young when Geeta met my dad but i’ve al­ways got on with her. she never made a big thing of us join­ing the fam­ily, it was just “the same rules ap­ply”. i live with my mum in the week so i’m with Geeta and my sis­ters and brothers ev­ery other week­end, and i al­ways look for­ward to time there. some­times Geeta’s and my mum’s rules vary – for ex­am­ple my mum wouldn’t mind if i dated – but it hasn’t caused any is­sues. Hav­ing two mums is cool as i get dif­fer­ent opin­ions that al­low me to take a balanced view. Geeta has been a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence in my life and i re­ally ad­mire her.

Simi and Chaan say…

Peo­ple are al­ways look­ing at Mum when we all go out to­gether and she laughs and says, “imag­ine! i’ve got five!” she loves hav­ing a mas­sive brood around her and treats us all as her chil­dren. our fam­ily chat on What­sapp is al­ways ping­ing with seven sets of mes­sages, and it’s fun to have so many peo­ple’s sup­port in life. some­times Emma lis­tens to Mum more than we do. the other day some­one asked why she doesn’t date and she said, “oh, you know, be­cause i’m in­dian!” We ap­pre­ci­ate and love Mum so much – fam­ily life al­ways comes first. >>

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