I’m a junky for online advice columns. Carolyn Hax ranks in my top 5, and what I read today made me sad for humanity.
In the question “Family ties cause friction,” a woman expressed her concern over her mother doting on her stepbrother’s children. “Disrespected” is in a relationship and neither she nor her partner want to have/raise children. That pretty much means her mother won’t have biologtical grand-kids anytime soon. “Disrespected” is offended that her mother dares to treat her stepson’s children as her own grand-kids and make no fuss about the lack of blood relationship. Instead, she goes on, saying “Am I right to feel resentful? I mean, they aren’t actually her grandchildren at all. Shouldn’t she explain that they are technically the children of her husband’s children?”
My answer in short: No and no. You need to grow up.
I am a product of a blended family. You can’t tell me that my step-dad isn’t my dad. We just have a different genetic make-up. And just the same, his family is my family. They’ve been there for all of my life accomplishments and major milestones. Now, they’re around for my daughter. They’re just as significant in my life as my blood relatives, and in some cases, even more important.
Why? They have been a part of my life for more than two decades. There are no qualifications to my status in the family because half of my DNA comes from someone outside of their bloodline. I have never been treated as a lesser-than grandchild or made to feel like I don’t deserve the same love or doting because of that. When people ask about the grandkids, there is no “well my son has a stepdaughter and a real son.” My family never precedes my title with “step.” I am a DAUGHTER. GRAND-DAUGHTER. NIECE. COUSIN. I am FAMILY.
That’s what adults do! They recognize that the world is a complicated place and understand that children sometimes find themselves in non-traditional family arrangements. But they also realize that people are people, no matter their genetic makeup. If someone is taken into the family, they should be treated as such, not as a second-class member of the family because of circumstances beyond their control.
Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be part of a family that thinks such it’s OK to justify poor treatment of anyone, let alone children, because they don’t share blood. It’s extremely immature regardless of how you attempt to minimize your rationale. It definitely says much more about you and your values (or lack thereof) than it ever will about the people you half-way shun.
What are your thoughts? Have you dealt with this personally or within your family?