How Sabotaging Stepmoms Hurts Your Children

Reposted from ReMarried With Children

mother-with-sad-children

You expected mothering to be a solo job. You and your husband raising your kids together, with no one to interfere—okay, except the media and public education. You anticipated tender, private moments with your children.

So much for that. Along came divorce. Worse still, your husband remarried.

You didn’t sign up to share motherhood with another woman. Your dream of privacy and exclusivity with your children is shattered. Your profound sense of loss gives way to anger and frustration. As if that wasn’t bad enough, your kids like or even love her, making it more uncomfortable still.

Sabotage: Finding Your Motivation

Frustration & insecurity provide motivation for sabotaging stepmoms.

That dream’s loss may have been sour, but these special cases can make it that much harder to accept your children’s positive relationship with their step-mom:

  • As your husband’s lover, she was the wedge that split the marriage.
  • She’s younger, aggravatingly attractive, and is easier for your kids to relate to.
  • She’s less worldly, leaving you insecure about the “life experience” and maturity level that backs advice she gives to your children.
  • She comes from a different background, and is exposing your kids to different religious or cultural values.

Either way, it’s unnerving watching your children spend more time with a competing mother figure than you. You feel inadequate, your judgment clouds, and you make knee-jerk reactions in protection of your cubs. You catch yourself making unkind remarks about your children’s stepmother and demanding your children’s unwavering loyalty.

You’re just making life hard for her, right? Wrong.

Surefire Ways to Damage Your Child

Woman Manipulating Her Child

Information Warfare

  1. You treat your child like a mole by grilling him about every detail of what went on in the other house. It’s boring and annoying having to do seemingly insignificant reconnaissance work for a neurotic parent.
  2. You censor your kid’s ability to relay what went on at your house. Being unable to talk freely makes your child uncomfortable and unsafe.

Deny Your Child Permission to Like His Step-mom.

  1. You deny your child permission to be himself. You rob your kid of free will, which can make him feel unimportant and depressed.
  2. You force your child to focus on your needs instead of his own. Your child feels less safe and taken care of. Emotional energy towards fulfilling your demands is divested from your child’s ability to relax and be himself. Your child is left uptight and guarded, which can lead to anxiety problems.
  3. Engaging in the role reversal in which your child has to take care of his mother instead of the other way around can also set the stage for your child to become an enabler for people with other problems, down the line.
  4. You discourage your child from being in touch with his feelings, which can foment resentment, anger, and depression.

Forbid Your Child From Cooperating with His Step-mom.

Woman Forbidding Her Child from Growing Close to His / Her Step Mom
  1. Your child’s stepmother and father will become upset with him. Your child is causing problems on your orders, not of their own volition, and now has to take the heat for it. This leads to anxiety.
  2. This negative attention often comes with punishment, which will additionally leave your child frustrated and isolated.
  3. Your child won’t feel like the part of the family when at your ex’s house. It’ll impact his self-esteem. It’ll also damage his sense of belonging (a fundamental need) which, when missing, leaves a void that people try to fill with things like addictions and cults.

How You Hurt Yourself

Undermining your child’s positive relationship with his or her stepmom* also backfires. He will be angry at and resent you for not trusting his judgment and decision to like his stepmom.

*This assumes absence of any major indicators of abuse.

How You Can Fix Things

Woman Being Positive and Optimistic

Empower yourself with a positive and a proactive attitude by taking these practical steps:

  • Have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself. Write it all down and get in touch with the buried stuff that you’ve yet to examine.
  • Evaluate your concerns about the stepmother as objectively as possible.
  • Grant your children emotional permission to like her if she is indeed nice to them.
  • Give them permission to have their feelings independent of yours.
  • Listen attentively to your children. It’ll deepen your relationship.
  • Give your children your undivided attention when you are with them.
  • Get therapy if you still need help processing your losses or establishing boundaries.
  • Reach out to your support system, like friends and family, or join a support group.

Closing Thoughts

Let go. Your old dream of a private, exclusive family life chains you to the past. Releasing it lets you create a new, happy, and healthy vision for yourself and your children.

Most stepmothers won’t come between you and your kids half as much as your fear will.

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What’s The Best Alternative To Co-Parenting When Ex’s Don’t Get Along?

Shared from HUFFPOST:

What’s The Best Alternative To Co-Parenting When Ex’s Don’t Get Along

 

Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker and College Instructor

Studies show that conflict is what creates the most pain and anguish for children after parents’ split, and that keeping parental disagreements to a minimum is a key aspect of helping kids become resilient. Over the last few decades, research by child development experts has demonstrated numerous benefits to children when their living arrangements enable support from both parents. One reason is that parents who co-parent tend to experience lower conflict than those who have sole custody arrangements.

However, very few experts discuss the drawbacks of co-parenting when parents don’t get along or have high conflict relationships. According to parenting expert, Edward Kruk, Ph.D., children of divorce benefit from strong and healthy relationships with both parents and they need to be shielded from their parents’ conflicts. He writes: “Some parents, however, in an effort to bolster their parental identity, create an expectation that children choose sides. In more extreme situations, they foster the child’s rejection of the other parent. In the most extreme cases, children are manipulated by one parent to hate the other, despite children’s innate desire to love and be loved by both parents.”

It takes two special parents to navigate a successful co-parenting arrangement over time. Interacting with each other at drop-offs, making shared decisions, or even speaking to an ex who you’d rather forget can be a challenge. Often divorced parents have a lot of unresolved anger after their breakup which can make moving forward smoothly problematic for their children.

 

What is the solution for divorced parents’ who want to do what’s in the best interest of their children when they have high conflict? According to Dr. Kruk, “Parallel parenting is an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging from each other, and having limited direct contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner.”

 

In other words, parallel parenting allows parents to remain disengaged from one another while they remain close to their children. For instance, they remain committed to making responsible decisions (medical, education, etc) but decide on the logistics of day-today parenting separately. Dr. Kruk posits that the higher the conflict between the parents, the more structured the parenting plan should be.

 

The key to successful parallel parenting after divorce is to keep the focus on your children – and to maintain a cordial relationship with your ex-spouse. Most importantly, you want your children see that their parents are working together for their well-being. Never use them as messengers because when you ask them to tell their other parent something for you, it can make them feel stuck in the middle. It’s best to communicate directly with your ex and lessen the chances your children will experience loyalty conflicts.

 

The following are suggestions based on my own experience and advice from experts. First of all, it’s paramount that you gear your parenting plan to the age of your children and that it is consistent. Try to develop routines for them leaving and coming home when they are young. As they reach adolescence, strive to be more flexible and adapt to their changing needs.

 

Tips to help kids live happily in two homes with parallel parenting:

 

1. Utilize a third party mediator – This person can be a counselor, social worker, or even a member of your church. They can help mediate any face to face meetings between you and your ex-spouse.

2. Develop a parallel parenting plan – This should describe specific times and public places for exchanges, plans for cancellations, etc.

3. Limit communications to only those that are necessary for the care and well-being of your children. Communicate through email as much as possible and avoid text messages which can come across as hostile or blunt. A notebook can be passed back and forth between homes to communicate any important information.

4. Reassure your children that they have two parents who love them. If they balk at going to their other parent’s home, you can say something like “Even though mom and dad aren’t married anymore we both still love you and are good parents.”

5. Maintain a cordial, business-like relationship with your ex so that your children won’t feel intense divided loyalties. It’s important not to express anger at your ex in front of your children so they don’t feel stuck in the middle.

6. Help your kids anticipate changes in their schedule. Planning ahead and helping them pack important possessions can benefit them. However, keep items to a bare minimum. Most parents prefer to have duplicate items for their kids on hand.

7. Encourage your younger child to adhere to their parenting time schedule – being consistent with their routine will help your kids feel secure. Younger children often benefit from avoiding frequent shifts between homes. Whereas teens usually benefit from flexibility in their schedule because they may have difficulty juggling their busy life with school, extracurricular activities, friends, and jobs if they start working.

8. Remember to keep the spotlight on your children’s best interests. You and your ex may detest one another, but you both love your children. Keep in mind that your ex is your child’s other parent and deserves respect simply because of this fact. Encourage your child to spend time with your ex-spouse’s extended family since this will help them to feel more secure in the long-run.

 

Keep in mind that communicating with your former spouse is going to be necessary for the length of your children’s childhood into young adulthood. This may include special events, graduations – and perhaps even weddings. It’s important to keep clear boundaries so that your children wouldn’t harbor fantasies that you will reconcile. For the most part, this means less personal sharing and focusing on exchanging information, cooperation, and making good decisions about your children.

 

It’s also possible that even though you and your ex-spouse may not be capable of a cooperative co-parenting arrangement now, it may be an option in the future. It may take years, but eventually the anger you and your ex harbor for one another may dissipate sufficiently for you to consider co-parenting. Keep the door open for the future since it will benefit your children if you are cooperative colleagues.

 

In sum, modeling cooperation and polite behavior set a positive tone for parallel parenting. When children are confident of the love of both of their parents, they will adjust more easily to divorce. Keeping your differences with your ex away from your children will open up opportunities to move beyond divorce in the years to come. Ask yourself this question: how do you want your children to remember you and their childhood when they are adults?

 

Follow Terry at movingpastdivorce.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She is delighted to announce the recent publication of Daughters of Divorce: Overcoming the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.

 

A Day In The Life Of A BC Bonus Mom……..”A New Beginning”.

Hello everyone!

I am back after a few months away, due to personal reasons, and upon attempting to log into my blog “A Day In The Life Of A BC Bonus Mom”….I quickly realized that it was GONE. No longer available. My hard work, sweat, laughter, tears…had all been obliterated into the internet ether somewhere.

So, I find myself back and having to start all over from scratch, regaining my old contacts, finding all who I used to follow and support, so bare with me as I find my blogging feet again!

Nowadays, I am being found under “bcbonusmomblog” and I will be re-entering the world of Step-Families and not only looking for support but giving it on whatever levels I can. There will be posts on everything family related…kids….education….recipes….legal stuff….opinions….relationships as well as the constant struggle between bio parents and step parents. There simply does NOT appear to be much, if ANY support for step-moms…step-parents….in British Columbia at all. Now, I am not sure if I can or will change that but I am sure that I can endeavor to try.

I attempt to attend as many early childhood development workshops (psycho-educational) as well as step-parenting/step-family courses that I can annually, as well as having the day to day issues and drama that comes with being a stepmom coupled with first hand experience with an uncooperative co-parent with an evil streak. 🙂

For those of you that don’t know me, or don’t remember me, I am Nell and I am a Smommy to two wonderful young boys that entered my life 3 years ago now when I met the man who I would eventually marry. We did indeed marry a year after meeting and I officially got the name of “stepmom”….or evil stepmom as I have been so lovingly called…lol I have lived, worked and traveled overseas most of my life and have gained a plethora of life experience along the way. Although I now have a permanent base set up back home in BC Canada, my journey has not ended, it has simply taken a different road….and it is certainly a roller coaster ride!

So, join me! Follow me as I start the next chapter….share and care with flare!!

Nell xo