Mom, who do you love more- me or Sarah?
Yes, that was the question my daughter, Jessica, asked when she was 5 way back in 1998. With all siblings, there is usually some rivalry, and my children were no different. So I would answer by saying that I loved each of them, and I couldn’t possibly choose. I told them that they were each wonderful and unique, and there was a place in my heart for each of them.
When I became engaged to my husband, Mike, in 2001, my girls both wanted to know who I loved more, them or Mike. So I told them there was a place in my heart for each of them that would always be there. And that when I decided to love Mike, it didn’t mean I loved them less. It meant that my heart got bigger and Mike was added to it. I also told them that while I love Mike and I am committed to him, that I am committed to them and that I am responsible for them.
Our hearts do get bigger as we add people to our lives. And in the same way, we want to support our children in having “big” hearts. We want to help them make room for all the people that may be in their life- other parent, stepparent, stepsiblings, half siblings, etc. This seems to be one of the most difficult areas for single parents and stepfamilies. It may be uncomfortable for us, as Moms and Dads who have fears about not being as important or as needed or as loved by our children as some other person but be assured, your place in your child’s heart will never change.
I will not forget several years ago when my children had a new stepmother, and I was feeling very insecure. I told them that I knew that it was important for them to have a good relationship with her, and that I wanted them to. I was just struggling with some feelings that I would learn to deal with, and that weren’t their problem. My daughter said, “What are you afraid of?”. And I said, “I’m afraid you’ll love me less”. To which my wise daughter replied, “Mom, that is silly. You are my Mom.” I realized then that I was letting my fear get in the way of my loving. And that it was very important that I stay centered in the fact that my children could love other people too, and it didn’t take away from me.
Help your children to have hearts that keep getting bigger. Give them room to love all those people in their life- (whether you love all those people or not.)
And that is truly loving.
All the best,