Curiosity is a natural occurrence in the human mind. It can be a dangerous or healthy phenomenon, but it definitely unavoidable. We want to know why, how, when, where, who…And it is when things are different than our own that our curiosity spikes. I’ve seen this first hand between first, or nuclear, families and families that have been divided and sewn back together with new pieces. Original vs. blended. What’s it like on the other side of that white picket fence?
I’ve been asked everything under the sun. What’s it like to be a Stepmom? Does the Ex like you? Do you like your stepdaughter? Don’t you want your own kids? What does your visitation schedule look like? How does child support work? I welcome the questions because I can handle the answers. It’s when my stepdaughter is brought into the discussion that I get apprehensive. Because of our natural tendency to wonder and inquire, I try my best to keep my cool when the inevitable question to my stepdaughter comes flying out of people’s mouths and pulls on my heart strings.
When do you go home?
Ugh. This is hands down my number one pet peeve. It makes me boil with anger and my claws of defense come out. You see, I guarantee each and every time this question is asked it is simply out of innocent curiosity. And that’s fair. But what’s not fair is to insinuate one house is more of a “home” than the other. What you are doing when you ask my stepdaughter that question is subliminally training her to view her mother’s house as her home, and her father’s house just as a place she “visits.” Non-custodial parents work very hard to give their children a loving home, sometimes more so than custodial parents because of the shortness of time they do get to be together as a family.
This question gets asked by adults and kids alike, to both my stepdaughter as well as to my husband and me. For those reading this that are shaking their head remembering a time they blurted this out to a child with two homes, don’t fret. It happens, and it’s going to continue to happen to families like mine. What I hope to do with this teeny tiny article is hopefully get people’s brains turning and spark discussions around stepfamily etiquette.
If you find yourself curious about the logistics a child of two homes has, by all means, ask away. Just be aware of the way in which you ask. Consider the fact that there is a good chance this child of two homes has seen and heard turmoil in their life, and probably experiences confusion and episodes of being homesick even though they are in fact in one of their homes. Two home living can be a very emotionally overwhelming lifestyle for a child. Try putting a positive spin on your questions. My favorite?
How many days do you get to be with your Dad?
My husband and I have made sure his daughter has everything she needs in our house, and we put extra effort into making sure she never feels like she has to come with a suitcase during her weekends with us. Her dresser is full of clothes, her own toothbrush is in her bathroom, and her favorite snacks are in the pantry. The next time you find yourself wondering this question in a split home situation, please be aware of the language you choose to use. My stepdaughter has two homes, Mom’s house and Dad’s house. She has family in both, and no matter which one she is in at the moment, she is already home.