Hard for me to tell my step-children that I love them

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I am 31 yrs old and I am the stepmother to 3 children ages 15, 13 and 7 from my husband's previous marriage. Their father and I have been married for 3 years, together for 5.

The oldest lives with us, the younger two we have more than half the time. I love them and I do so much for them - attend ALL of their sporting events, school events, shop for them, run them around town, do school work with them, play with them, etc...so I feel like I SHOW them I love them, but I have the hardest time saying it. It makes me feel awful.

I notice it mostly when I am around my two nephews, whom I was there for their births and am very close to. I have no problems saying "I love you" to my nephews (or parents, or brother, or husband) - but I notice I never say "I love you" to friends or non relatives.

Why do I feel so uncomfortable saying this to my step kids when they are my family? Is this normal? It makes me worried that maybe I don't really love them deep down. I don't think I feel the same way about them that I do my nephews...in some respects I do - I do more for my stepkids, I'm around them more, and I'm just as protective of them as I am my nephews...but I just don't FEEL the same.

My step kids are very loving/touchy with me, which also makes me uncomfortable because I am not that touchy of a person...but they also don't tell me they love me very often...just every now and then - which doesn't bother me. I just feel like as the adult, it is my responsibility to tell them I love them and help make them feel comfortable enough to tell me if they want to. Any suggestions? Or any insight as to why this is so hard for me?

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Nov 26, 2009
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Stepmom Hard Time Saying I Love You
by: Anonymous

I don't have any step children and I always am telling my children that I love them, as my mum always has and does tell me, but my nan had seven children all of whom she adored and did everything for, her life was for her children and all her children knew that, she never once told them while they were growing up that she loved them, it wasn't her way, it wasn't how she was brought up, yet my mum and her siblings always said, she never needed too as it showed in her actions.

By the sound of it, you do just that so I don't think you should worry too much.
My nan now does say she loves us but more because I went on and on and on at her until she broke! But does now say it with ease, the more you hear it, the more you say it, I think it will become easier! GOOD LUCK

Nov 26, 2009
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Stepmother Has Hard Time Saying I Love You to Stepchildren
by: Laura Ramirez

Stepmother Has Hard Time Saying I Love You to Stepchildren

First of all, I applaud your honesty. Thanks for sharing your feelings. I'm sure there are other step parents who share your discomfort, so you are not alone.

Delving into why you're afraid to tell your stepchildren that you love them and how to heal that is really a topic for exploration as part of in-depth parenting coaching and if you're up for that, then I am available with insights.

In thinking about your issue, I've come up with what I feel will be a workable solution for you right now. Since you do show your stepchildren how you feel by taking care of them and spending time with them, you are doing a good job. But your discomfort with returning affection shows that you have deeper work to do and it's good that you are asking the right questions. Of course, some people will always prefer to show their love rather than tell it.

What I suggest to you is that you start by telling your stepchildren what you love about them. Rather than saying "I love you" which makes you uncomfortable, say something like, "I love how easily you express your feelings" or "I love how you help me with the dishes without asking because it makes me feel appreciated" or "I love just being with you" or "I love that you are part of my family," etc. You get the idea. Check your comfort level as you do so and of course, always be genuine.

I also suggest that you read my parenting book which teaches parents and stepparents what it really means to be the steward of a child and how raising children to develop their strengths can help you discover your own.

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