Stepping in Love : What’s my role anyway?

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I’m a mild Tiger-Mom who happens to be from the Caribbean so my kids have to deal with high expectations. Sorry, it’s in my blood. Actually, I’m not sorry at all. I expect them to aim for high grades, work hard at activities that they choose and never live with a sense of entitlement. I have a hard time lowering my expectations…except when it comes to myself. (More on that in another post)

I grew up in this type of environment, so it’s all I know. My bio-daughter is used to it as well. She is the classic overachiever and seems to thrive when she is challenged. My stepdaughter is also brilliant, insanely athletic and very creative but being pushed doesn’t motivate her. It actually stifles her. She needs more nurturing. I realized when she came to live with us, I had taken on the role of “Governess”. For those of you who don’t know what this means, think back to The Sound of Music and the oldest daughter, Liesl repeatedly saying “I don’t need a governess!” A governess is an educated woman who teaches children in a private household. I helped my stepdaughter skip a grade and end the year with A’s and B’s. I’ve  taught her how to do a back walk-over. I thought I was giving her the things she wanted and needed but the connection never seemed to deepen.

My stepdaughter’s favorite scene from the Sound of Music – ENJOY!

It would have been easy to focus on everything I was doing for her and blame her for this lack of connection, but I knew I was the problem. Just as Liesl never embraced Maria until she became ‘Mother’, my stepdaughter would never really connect until I moved away from the governing/ruling role into the mothering/nurturing role. She was setting the pace and I needed to follow. Our disconnect came from a place of her not feeling like I loved her the same way as her sister, my “real” daughter.

I still teach her things and push her to get good grades, but I also hug her more, laugh with her more and be a mother to her, because that’s what she needs and that’s the role I am privileged to play in her life.

Photo Credit –  Pinterest

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