COPYRIGHT 1996 - 2008
Step Children 4/6/08

A long time ago and a short time ago. In a place both near and far away a professor figured something out about step children. I am sorry that you are exposed to the behavior of your mother and myself. It is not what I would say is a loving adult relationship at this time.

I do think having the child of one of the spouses involved puts an additional pressure on the relationship. I actually believed that if I was kind and loving to you that this would solve this timeless relationship strain.

I believe that you and I have done a good job of being kind, honest, and loving to each other.

I was unaware that this is not the total issue and there is a bigger underlying issue. I now believe that the exposure to another culture is stressful to the parent of the child. Especially if the step parent and the child get along.

It may be that the parent of the child sees a positive relationship with the new spouse as a loss of cultural power for their child. The parent may go to extremes to maintain cultural behaviors and punishing the spouse for challenging the culture of their child. The child is just as much at risk or perhaps even more critically when the step parent is kind and loving. To protect their child's cultural foundations the spouse may have to make the step parent and spouse a villain. The spouse may not be a villain if the spouse believes that the exposure to another culture is not bad but instead a gift of enlightenment and change to their child.

In a conversation on this subject with you and your mother you reinforced the cultural idea that it is difficult to see any affection between spouses. This is not done in China.

As you may have observed this is not considered in my culture as expressing a normal relationship between a husband and wife.

I am not talking about any extremes but simply a recognition that the husband exists and has value. This value can be expressed through both verbal and nonverbal behavior. This affection can be expressed by sitting next to the spouse and touching each other in socially appropriate ways within Western culture.

I do believe that there can be a middle road between cultures when people are married. I also believe that we can easily get caught in extremes in front of other members of the culture or family members. Especially with a child. You are by no means a child.

I would suggest that you consider supporting your mother in a different way than is perhaps cultural. To show attention and kindness in different ways to her and support this cultural exposure.

I am trying to help both your mother and myself find happiness together.

If you can consider assuring your mother that exposure to another cultural will not destroy you it may be helpful to us. Extremes of protection are not necessary. This is of course your decision.


Again it is amazing the influential and how Theory W can explain behavior. Our stories are so important that we consider it a betrayal of our child to allow positive exposures.