Open letter to my son's stepmother

sweeby

Dear Stepmom,

Thank you for opening your heart to my son. Through your patience, your warmth, and your tireless efforts, you've shown him that he is lovable and loved. That he hasn't lost his father, and that he now has two mothers instead of just one. Thanks to your efforts, he has two real homes where he is cherished and welcomed.

True, there have been times when I felt your involvement stepped on my toes, especially when people thought you were my son's mother, and didn't know who I was. Or when you met with his doctors and teachers without consulting me. But even though my own feelings haven't always been 100% noble, I've tried to stay aware of how much my son has benefitted from your involvement. It's much better for him to have two caring mothers, even if we don't always see eye to eye, than just one. And we're working it out.

You've also been forced to stand in that hard spot between my ex and me. There were a lot of bad feelings in that marriage that didn't get resolved during the divorce. It's a difficult position, but it's one you've managed with grace.

Under different circumstances, I think we could have been great friends. As it is, you have my respect, my admiration, and my gratitude. Not to mention, my son's love.

------------------------------------------------

To the forum folks -- Yes, it CAN be done.

Please, please try.

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Comments (8)
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bnicebkind

Simply beautiful. The amazing gift of grace...It is such a hard thing to give sometimes, and that is why it is so precious. Thank you for sharing.

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dutrilife

I cannot tell you how wonderful a gift you have given your son by the very act of "allowing" him the love of another woman. To not make him or the stepmother pay for loving each other; to encourage another healthy relationship instead of selfishly trying to limit who he can share his life with...For that very simple act, you will surely always be his number one hero when he is old enough to understand how different and painful it could have been. I love my stepson so much yet I feel like sometimes I cause him more pain than he can bear because by loving me back he engenders his mother's anger and engulfing depression that he feels is his job to make go away. What I wouldn't give to work hand in hand with a mom like that and what a beautiful family women like that could help build..Please keep it up and your reward will be a happy and healthy son, the greatest gift of all.

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sweeby

"I feel like sometimes I cause him more pain than he can bear because by loving me back he engenders his mother's anger and engulfing depression that he feels is his job to make go away."

That is exactly the tactic my ex. used to get my son to stop loving my husband. It's so sad what that did to everyone, and I vowed never to make that same mistake. At our house, my son is very affectionate with me, but in the presence of his father, he doesn't even hug me or my husband, won't say "I love you", and is clearly very uncomfortable. It's so sad that he feels this is necessary. But the ex. is happy, and when he isn't happy, there's tension and trouble. Seeing someone else's viewpoint is something he just isn't able to do...

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eandhl

I am so impressed with the insight and love shown in this letter and thread.

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dutrilife

It is funny, I had read another thread last night before reading this one, the one about the tired stepmother who would like to have children of her own. Later on in that thread, you responded to someone's comment about letting the son choose to stay with his mom and forego the custody time with his dad by saying not to let him and to be the adult. I had not really noticed that exchange last night nor had I realized that it was written by the same person that I later responded to (you)until tonight. I say it is "funny" because we got our son back today after a pretty long time of not having him (we share 50% custody) because of his vacation time with his mom and for the first time in a couple of years he started crying about missing his mom and for the first time ever asked if he could go back to her house.It was pretty upsetting after missing him while he was gone for so long to have that be how he was feeling, but neither my husband nor I were that surprised. His ex has recently taken us back to court to change the custody order, claiming that our son is miserable with it and wants it to change. It has only been in effect for 6 months and we have only noticed very positive changes in him since then. It isn't really that different from what it used to be and all of the things she is claiming ring false and have us convinced that this is really about proving to everyone that she controls what happens in our son's life, not anyone else. It has become clear to us that she is drilling him on what he "wants" and has actually put in her declaration to the court that the judge needs to ash him what he wants so he can tell her and thus have the order changed. He is 7. The fact that she wants to put him in that position says everything anyone needs to know about her, in my opinion. Anyway, when he started asking to go back to her house tonight I was so tempted to just say fine and let him get what he (thinks) he wants so tht he could learn from the regret for next time. But that was mostly an emotional reaction, not very rational and thank god my husband thinks a little more clearly than i do in these kinds of situations. we ended up sitting down to talk to him about why it is important for parents to do the parenting not the kids and that letting children go from home to home according to their wishes is not necessarily what is best for them. We talked about it for a while and by the end what came out was that he is sad for his mom when he is away because she is all alone and needs him there to take care of her. Also not surprising, but very sad that he is burdened with that responsibility. I don't know how much he understood by the end of the conversation but then he wrote her a note saying how much he missed her and we mailed it for him and that semed to help him feel better. I just thought it interesting that you had the same reaction that I feel ended up being the right reaction tonight. You obviously are a very selfless, caring mom who has succeeded in putting the true needs of her child before her own. I am wondering how you have gotten to that point. Were you always like that or did you go to counseling following the divorce or co-parenting classes? Not many people in your situation behave so maturely. I want more than anything to get to the point where that is always my first reaction rather than the selfish, emotional one which I then have to fight to finally do the right thing.

Any advice you want to give would be thoroughly appreciated.

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sweeby

Oh I hear ya... It's really hard on a child and the other parent to hear these things.

"His ex has recently taken us back to court to change the custody order, claiming that our son is miserable with it and wants it to change. It has only been in effect for 6 months and we have only noticed very positive changes in him since then. It isn't really that different from what it used to be and all of the things she is claiming ring false and have us convinced that this is really about proving to everyone that she controls what happens in our son's life, not anyone else. It has become clear to us that she is drilling him on what he "wants" and has actually put in her declaration to the court that the judge needs to ash him what he wants so he can tell her and thus have the order changed. He is 7. The fact that she wants to put him in that position says everything anyone needs to know about her, in my opinion."

I think you've got it exactly right. She's feeling threatened, feels her control slipping, and is reacting in a selfish, destructive and emotional way to "get her son back." Probably, without realizing the cost to his emotional health.

I went through the same tactics, starting when my son was about 3. He'd come back from his father's house feeling terrible because "My daddy's so sad when I'm not there." For 3-4 days, he'd spout all sorts of 'daddy-centered' stuff about how sad his dad was, how much his dad missed him, how it wasn't fair that his dad didn't get to see him more often, and about how he wanted to live with his dad, and when he was 10, he'd get to choose. My son didn't even realize at that time that living with his father meant he wouldn't be living with me. At first, I tried talking to Ex, and asked him if he could rephase it to how happy he was to see DS and how much Ex enjoyed spending time with DS instead of how sad Ex was without him. Ex denied there was a difference. I explained how DS felt sad and guilty for making his father sad; Ex said I should just give up custody so DS could be happy.

This went on unproductively for years. Later on, Ex's parenting tactics got progressively worse - extreme Disneyland syndrome, over-empowering DS, badmouthing me, ridiculing my husband, who DS had quickly grown to love... I asked him to go to counseling (7 years post-divorce) so we could "learn how to parent more effectively." In truth, knowing Ex, I didn't expect it to work, but I knew Ex would make an @$$ of himself in counseling, and that the counselors would be consulted in the inevitable custody battle. That is, in fact, exactly what happened, with Ex admitting to and defending all of his slimy self-centered tactics, and the counselors practically beating their heads against the wall trying to get him to see any perspective other than his own. DS's new SM even went to some of the sessions, and it was clear that she could see the error of Ex's ways -- but of course, she was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Some good did come out of the counseling. The therapists recommended the book 'Divorce Poison' to me (not within Ex's hearing) which deals with parental alienation syndrome. A gut-wrenching read, but very valuable for understanding Ex's tactics and counter-acting them. I changed some of my responses, and DS's emotional health started to improve. That book helped me find the fine line between stating that I thought Ex's actions were not right and why, without crossing over into Ex-bashing. I also learned a few valuable strategies for dealing with Ex -- like *never* proposing my preferred solution to a problem, because any solution I proposed, he would veto. And discussing issues with SM instead, because she was reasonable, had less ego involvement, and was able to see DS's perspective in addition to her own and Ex's. (Ex honestly could not.)

As it played out, the day DS turned 12, Ex initiated legal procedings to have custody switched. DS signed the paper indicating that he wanted to live with his father. Ex. delivered that paper to me on our son's 12th birthday. (DS really didn't have a choice; the consequences of refusing to sign would have been horrific. Plus, he'd been so brainwashed...) With lawyers, counselors and negotiations, I managed to delay things a year, but on his 13th birthday, DS went to live with Ex and SM.

Surprisingly, things have gone quite well since then. DS has gained a lot of insight into his father, most of it not so good. He's also developed a better appreciation of my 'mean' rules and the reasons behind them. And he loves his SM. She's the one who spends time with him at Ex's house. She makes his lunch, takes him to school, takes him out to dinner and movies, buffers Ex's rants and lectures. We're ALL lucky she's there. And DS still loves me. In fact, in private, it seems he's able to love me more since he stopped getting so much brainwashing pressure (still can't show it in front of Ex, though) and since I'm not always the one saying "No". Teenagers are difficult 24/7 -- twice a week plus every other weekend, they're easy ;o)

I'd love to have him back with me, but know it's not going to happen. So I need to work with what I've got -- a DS who is seeing more of human nature than most kids his age, yet still making mostly good choices, a SM that's loving, kind, responsible and reasonable, and a pathological Ex that's best to be avoided (and thanks to SM, I can).

Anyway - That's my story...
My advice to you is to read Divorce Poison. Make the time - expect to get very angry - then work through that anger and develop some strategies for coping with BioMom's tactics. Some of them will be legal defense tactics, but the more important ones will be ways for talking to your SS about BioMom's tactics. He's being put in a terrible position, and needs your help to deal with those pressures. The right actions will allow him to understand what BioMom is doing and why (in a simple, kind but truthful way), and that you love him very much and he is not to blame for all of the bad feelings.

Good luck to you, your DH and SS.

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organic_maria

I wish you were the biomom of my SK. But unfortunately those are very rare gems! I have a biomom that uses tactics to poison her kids but fortunately it is not working. In fact it is backfiring on her now cause the kids are old enough to compair both houses. Her boyfriend is very mean to the kids. I on the other hand am not. I wake up in the morning to make breakfast for them, constantly cleaning which they see. WE go shopping, we play games together. I help them with projects plus arts adn crafts. Since my husband has started proceedings to lower the child support she has become aggressive in every way. Even with her kids. She calls me a liar and yet doesn't have any explaination for it. The kids turned around a few days ago and we all had a long talk about it when their father was out of the house. They said they know their mother is very jealous of me and their father adn the new baby. They do not like how she is acting and they dont like their SD either. He calls them all sorts of names under the sun behind their moms back. And if they tell, they get punished. Thats my story . I feel really sorry for the kids. They dont deserve this. But my husband has made me realize it will be worse for them if we engage in a custody battle. And i agree. BUT, if one should get physically hurt, he will take custody then.
I just wish this woman would just let go of her hate and resentment. Her kids are tired of her anger and degrading remarks. They know i'm a good person and for me, it makes me happy to see they are not blind. But sad because i cannot protect them from their own mothers poison.
That was a lovely letter and wish there were more biomoms who would think that way. instead of the hate for their ex that blinds them and all they want to do is make him pay for leaving her in everyway shape and form.

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sunnygardenerme

Thank you sweeby for letting me see that bio mom's can be wonderful people. My step children's mom has made it difficult for me to have a good relationship with my step children. She has always caused trouble with everything when it came to the children and me. I pray that someday the children will like me and accept me. Thanks, maybe there is hope.

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