Ah, the joys of some separate worlds...
If I opened up on this topic in some of my other favorite hang-outs, I'd probably be handing someone an "I told you so" type moment and I'm not one that ever likes to do that, so ... well, I'm going to take advantage of this old hangout and open up a bit more here than I might do so in other places.
Somewhere along the way, as I typed thoughts about what I'd expect and try to achieve in any (at that time) future relationship I said something about hoping that I'd be strong enough and sensible enough to welcome any future partner/spouse's children as I would my own. Meaning that I'd love them like they were mine, support them like they were mine, and expect that any future partner/spouse would do the same with my own children. The last thing I would want to do is find a partner/spouse that would become the evil stepmother for my children, and I would in no way want to be mean old stepfather to someone else's children. It wouldn't be fair to the children, and really doesn't seem to be a good way to live a life.
Relationships should be good for all involved, or at least as good as they can be for everyone that is involved, both directly and indirectly. I realize nothing is ever perfect and that there can be those that are in the extended family that someone is joining who will have their own agenda and own motiviations for their behaviors towards the relationship they see in front of them. That's part of the challenge of forming a new partnership with someone that has that extended family with them.
Now, I have to laugh a little here because someone else that I'm acquainted with (through the interwebs) had made some comments about dating that inspired some of my comments. That particular individual acknowledged being somewhat shallow in looking for a partner that was unencumbered -- they wanted someone that didn't have any children because they wanted the full and undivided attention of whomever that partner would be to be lavished on them, even though the same individual had a child of their own (actually more a young adult of their own if memory serves). I commented that such an approach was short sighted and potentially ignored what could be some very special and caring individuals (like myself) that are out there. I understand narrowing the search pool/criteria to get closer to the end goal you want, but to me it seemed dumb to wipe out so many people that might very well prove to be some of the best possible partners out there.
As I offered up my thoughts on the topic, another individual somewhat smugly looked at my relatively naive comments and pooh-poohed them with something along the lines of "oh, that's just so precious you think it'll be so idylic." I admit to being naive, and I admit to having idylic thoughts and desires, but I truly meant what I said when I said that I'd like to find someone that will love my children as their own and as I would expect to love their children. I truly believe everyone deserves respect and everyone should be treated as we would hope others treat us. That "Do unto others" is something that has been so long engrained in me that I just don't know any other way, no matter how some others may take advantage of me or other loved ones. I still try to see the best in everyone and try to give people the benefit of the doubt that what seemingly mean and evil things they may have done are exceptions rather than the rule.
It's months down the road from my comments that inspired the smug reaction and I'm left thinking that perhaps the individual that made the comments tossed one of those "curses of the parents" in my general direction. You know the curse -- I hope someday you have children just like yourself. I know darned well my mother did that with me, and I believe she got her wish in the form of my son, though my son is cursed with issues from the DNA on multiple sides of the family. From my mother, from my mom's dad and his clan, from my mom's mom, from my first wife's father, from me, from my first wife, etc. A strange brew of all that goes into making up a human that has left my son with ADHD issues and poor relationship skills that have threatened to keep the two of us from ever having a healthy relationship. We've had glimmers and hopes along the way only to see the slightest of comments irritate him beyond belief and leave him cutting off communication because he just doesn't want to deal with it and doesn't want to hear what I'm telling him.
That isn't the challenge to what I speak though. That challenge, where I fear I may have been cursed, is in dealing with my fiance's oldest daughter. Not her oldest child, but the eldest of the daughters she has. Her eldest daughter is one that seems to have many of the same issues that my son has had, and many more compounded on top for her as well. I don't want to go into the gory details, and don't want to be telling tales of the child. It's not my place and I wouldn't want to violate her right to privacy. I'd just say that the challenges I've had with my son are very well paralleled with my fiance and her daughter. The difference being that my son is a little older and more independent financially. Independence that came with a very heavy price (the death of his mother, my first wife, nearly two years ago).
My fiance's daughter had some of that independence as she was on her own and continues to be that way, but unfortunately she gave up on a job that was her ticket to her own freedom and has since floundered around hoping to find another job while also coveting the fiancial situation that a roommate of hers has. She apparently wants the world to give her the lifestyle she thinks she deserves and while she understands that her mother can't do it, she apparently had some misunderstandings of how I might be able to affect things that were only recently cleared up for her. So, poor decisions got made and those decisions continue to haunt the child as she tries to get through life with adult responsibilities and debts while having no current source of income.
Unfortunately I hadn't been able to spend much time with that daughter. Since she hasn't been living at her mother's home I've not been able to include her in activities, nor has her mother for that matter, that I've done with her baby sister or with my own daughter. I've had some activities lined up that do include her, and her mother has tried multiple times to include her in plans, but she has her own life much as my son has his own life.
Also unfortunately, that daughter seems to be doing everything she can to show just how much attention she needs and wants from her mother. Attention she hasn't been getting from other sources as she is currently not in a relationship, though she had been in one that ended about the time that I came to know her mother and start a relationship with her. So, that daughter has been, apparently jealously, watching her mother find happiness with me while having been unable to find her own happiness.
I wrote a long e-mail (gee, if you've read my articles before, you'd never know I can write a lot of text, would you? ) to that daughter in the middle of the night last night. I couldn't sleep as my frustrations with the timing of her latest apparent cries for attention and/or the results of her latest failures to deal with her finances boiled over and took away the time that her mother and I had hoped to be able to take away a few moments from. I don't know if any of what I wrote will help the child at all. I hope it does, and I hope it gives her a chance to see how much her mother and I care for each other and how much we both do care about our children.
Over time, I really do look forward to having a nice relationship with that daughter and the rest of my fiance's children (her son, the eldest, and her young daughter as well). My fiance has a wonderful family and has done a great job as (basically) a single parent for her children. Her ex-husband is still there and still able to carry on a relationship with those children if he chooses, but he has fairly apparently made different choices. Choices that are fairly obviously influenced by his own second marriage and his relationship (or desired relationship) with his second wife. I truly feel blessed to have found someone has caring and compassionate as I have and I am glad to be able to share my own compassion with her children and with her.
I hope these challenges get easier over time, and I hope for the best for her daughter.