I, too, grew up with divorced parents, but the alienation came wholly from the insecurities of my stepmother. My “real” mom never said an unkind word about my father, never said an unkind word of my stepmother. However, my stepmother made it a point to constantly put my father in the unsavory position of having to choose between his children and his wife, and the children lost. We were all grown or nearly grown, so we weren’t under foot too often. Eventually my father just gave in to her demands and gave up having a relationship with his children.
He died last year and, although I hate to admit it, the pain is still there. You see, I tried for nearly 40 years to have a relationship with my father. Yes, I knew he loved me, but he was not free to express it in front of his insecure wife.
People will tell you that in time you’ll hurt less. This is not true. In time you learn to suppress your feelings of abandonment and loss, but you never stop having those feelings.
My hope is that stepmothers will read things like this and realize the enormous impact they have on the lives of their stepchildren, and ultimately the children of their stepchildren. My father was forced to choose, and so he lost the opportunity to know my children, and they lost the opportunity to learn from him.