This was a Post from the BB-seemed important and common topic so I am posting the post and my reply here. Thanks to the SMOM who wrote it!
Here’s what happening…both SS’s are coming back from their BM’s in tees that they got on vacations that DH and BM took them on, by now even the ones that fit OSS are too small for YSS but they are still being worn and now BM has started putting HER tees from vacations that she went on with DH on OSS…WTF!! I think I preferred the scruffy look! They just go right back to where they came from…
Hi SMOM, I know I replied a short message to this post the other day but I woke up thinking about you and the situation and wanted to elaborate on some options and maybe even an alternative approach and response to bio-mom’s actions.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
Therapists agree that the things kids remember from their childhoods are NOT the daily living situations but are vacations, holidays and family rituals.
Kids know they are part of both parents: This is the reason it’s important to do whatever we can to minimize the negative talk about any hostile/dumb, thoughtless bio-mom act because children all know they are 50-50% part Mom and part Dad. Whether they’re conscious of this or not, it does sink into their psyches and can have a life long negative impact if the negative behavior of a parent goes unaddressed/unchecked as they grow up. With this knowledge we may be able to be more enthusiastic about actions of the bio-mom when the stepkids present it to us. Ex. They come over in the t-shirts and reminisce about the happy vacation they had with Mom and Dad (UGH, from one perspective that stinks) and yet if we realize they are wanting to remember a happy event AND it’s important that they get our attention and acknowledge that something good happened with biomom and bio-dad, we can give them our enthusiasm because it is a gift to THEM. This is not what the bio-mom may have wanted but it’s a way to turn annoying, tart lemons into lemonade.
These bio-mom actions are what we SMOMS used to called, “Trojan-horsing.” If you read the Smommentary about “The Loyalty Wars”, you can read more about it. Also we can compose ourselves to support the stepkids “Hey look at me” emotional needs, knowing we’re giving the skid’s much needed reassurance, we can process our disgust or upset just as you did…by coming to SMOMS.org and getting all kinds of support and emotional outlets and ideas.
OK, here comes the good part. With all the factors above…what about creating a new family ritual at your house, where you all get t-shirts from the events and places that you, your hubby and the stepkids do and go? Giving her, in their eyes, the credit for a wonderful new family tradition!?! (They can feel good) Going forward and as they grow, the times you all have together are going to give them a new wardrobe, tons of good memories and if they come over with some new t-shirt they got when doing something with their bio-mom, you can very graciously give them a chance to share their experiences with you all. (again a chance for them to feel good). This new attitude (which they will feel) reduces the annoyance you will feel and gives them time to share (tangible action on your part) and shows them, in a powerful way, that you and their Dad are AOK with them having a happy life in both homes. It’s such a deeply essential healing balm for kids of divorce and yet it something missing for many of our situations. What do you think?
By reframing her actions from something annoying into an idea for something that will create more and more fun things for you and your family, she may or may not stop but it will never have the same power to annoy you again.
I’m smiling as I think of them growing and ultimately seeing how gracious you and your hubby were/are. One day the boys will see their Mother for the person she is-people all do eventually. In the meantime, your are giving them such a gift. Sincerely, Cathryn