Daily Press (Sunday)

Kids more excited about mom’s baby

- Email tellme@washpost. com or write “Tell Me About It” c/o The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I’ve been happily married to my husband for two years, and we have a beautiful almost-3-year-old son. I was always disappoint­ed that my teenage stepchildr­en never seemed that interested in or excited about their little brother, but marked it down to teenage self-involvemen­t.

Now, however, their mother, “Jen,” had a baby and they are much more excited about their little sister and much more involved with her. My mother-in-law even threw a shower for this baby, which she did not do for us. Her excuse was that Jen is a single mom in her 40s and needs all the support she can get. I want to be happy for Jen and the baby, and I even sent a small gift, which is more than she ever did for our son, but I can’t get over the hurt about my stepchildr­en’s attitude. They clearly feel a stronger kinship with their new sister than they do for their little brother. What can I do? — Hurt

Dear Hurt: Nothing. Your disappoint­ment makes sense — you want his siblings to love your little boy. But there are so many reasons beyond your control that could explain why your stepchildr­en feel as they do, it’s pointless and self-defeating to dwell on them or wish for something different.

For example, they may be closer to their mom than their dad. Boom, done. Doesn’t mean your husband isn’t wonderful, your marriage isn’t wonderful, your son isn’t wonderful — it just is. The pull of history is strong.

Or, of course, they may blame your husband for the split, not their mom, which carries over, however unfairly.

Or, maybe they and/or their paternal grandma resent you, distrust you or feel you don’t need them, or whatever, based on some real or imagined experience they had with you when you got together with your husband. Remarriage­s involving kids are crisscross­ed with misunderst­andings and jumped-to conclusion­s and raw nerves. You can make yourself crazy with it, or you can stay your own loving course and accept it.

Or, they have had access to this child that they didn’t with your child, and bonded accordingl­y.

Or, they are three years further removed from their parents’ split, or just three years older and more mature, and therefore more receptive to a baby sibling.

Again — so many reasons that might be out of your reach. And maybe the ex really did need support in the form of shower gifts.

So you have two choices: Love your child and your little family and embrace your stepchildr­en where they are, no questions asked — or dwell on the enthusiasm gap and gather up all the little bad feelings into a single significan­t grudge, tainting every relationsh­ip involved.

I highly recommend the former.

This is the situation in this family. He can be brought up to see it as a grievance, or he can be brought up to not really notice it one way or the other.

A reader’s thoughts:

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