I’m part of a blended family private group that I don’t participate in much (a time thing), but I do check in occasionally and read the issues that members are posting about their challenges. One really hit me, so of course, I gotta blog about it!
I was intrigued because the couple that posted are together for 7 years (like us!), married two of those (not us yet). Together they have a blended family of four children (like us!). So naturally, whenever I see posts involving kids, divorce, blended families etc., my ears perk up and I take notice. There is always something to learn!
They posted their story asking for advice on what to do in their troublesome situation. I didn’t know I was about to get real pissed off. They were having a very difficult time with the biological mother of the man’s children. They said that up until now, things were really great and they would often pinch themselves at how well their family is blending.
But, about a year ago his kids asked to be with him more and when it finally came to be through a court order, things got really bad with the ex wife.
The children (two girls) love being with their dad and even get along extremely well with their step siblings (one boy and one girl). In fact, she said it’s very minimal that they even have feuds, which is even rare with biological siblings. When they do, it’s quickly addressed, everyone is heard and they move on. Healthy and normal in my book. I’m sure this came with a good amount of practice.
The woman said her step children and bio children often say, “We have the best family ever!” “We are so lucky!” And they are always asking how soon the other kids are coming when they are not there. She was proud of this and you could tell it warmed her heart. How can you ask you for more in this type situation? After all, we all know of situations where it ain’t so pretty. I related to this feeling so I continued to read.
Here’s where the disturbing part comes in. Every time the girls go back to their bio mom, the father receives reports from their mother that the girls had an awful time and that they are extremely unhappy when they are with him. A completely opposite description of what this couple witnesses when the girls are with them. The bio mom sends a barrage of negative and hurtful text messages to the father telling him he is an awful father because they only want to be with her. He has learned to ignore it, but still it is a cycle that keeps repeating itself and he and his wife are growing tired of it.
After a long period of time dealing with this, the father has learned to separate the hurtful words with the truth and realizes this has nothing to do with him, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not troubling. See, after consulting with professional therapists (for him and the children), legal council and even an accidental confession from the ex wife, the father finally understood the motivation behind it all. Change in time share means change in child support. Still though, each time he receives those text messages, he will sit down with his girls and check in with how they are coping. The most revealing response he received at their most recent talk was when his older daughter said, “I feel like mom will be mad and I’ll hurt her feelings if I say I have fun here and want to be here with you.”
WTF?! My stomach dropped when I read that and perhaps it’s because this is a common thing for children to feel and it’s not fair! These children are afraid if they don’t share the same opinion as a parent, they will not be loved or accepted the same. Gross.
The last thing these growing minds need is this type of pressure and guilt. They especially don’t need to learn this kind of manipulation. Mom hates dad and I’ll get more points with mom if she thinks I hate him too. She’ll feel sorry for me and I’ll get whatever I want. Yeah, I’m sure that’s going to pan out real well as they try to have adult relationships. Way to go!
It is NOT the responsibility of the children to make their parents happy! This crap is happening a lot because some parents are more worried about how they feel about themselves than they are about their children’s feelings. *News Flash* – you are not contributing to your child’s mental well-being and self-esteem by pressuring them to love or not love their other parent. You are robbing them of a gift of a loving relationship and the day will come as they mature that they will recognize this. They will blame the negative talking parent.
Now, here’s what else was interesting. The couple said that all of their kids will have some complaint about their other parents from time to time. “Dad makes us have a bed time at his house. “ or “Mom gives sister all of the attention and never gives me enough.” Or “Dad will get really mad if I don’t bring this back to his house.” And sometimes there are more serious issues. But I learned something valuable when I read their post and the comments with advice they received. We have to remember that kids have a different perspective on things and they are learning how to get certain reactions. So, of course, they will test that with anyone, not just parents. As the adult, we have to be one step ahead and see that and take that into consideration. There are definitely things children will say that are cause to be concerned about and to bring to the attention of the other parent. Likewise, there are also things that one parent can deal with, understand the perspective of the child and not have to alarm the other parent at all unless necessary.
This kind of thing happens within the workplace, friendships and even families, whose parents are still together. I have great compassion for this loving family who are really going out of their way to provide stability for their family and are doing a really great job. It’s obvious how much of a priority their family is and to know that someone is trying to take that away is really disgusting.
What would your advice be to this family?