My husbands ex-wife manipulates his children against him and I. I am constantly made out to be this bad person and his children are allowed to stay away from us because of me. I am a "mean" person because I make them do chores and expect them to pick up after themselves.
The mother feeds in their mind that I do not have the right to tell them to clean up and agrees with them when they say I am mean. She acts as their "savior" and creates problems bigger than what they should be. She texts me telling me what I should do and not do and how I need handle certain situations. SHe trys to control me and the things I own and how I live in my own house.
I am so tired of being made out to be the bad guy because of her own downfalls as a mother. I love my husband very much but after 10 years, I am feeling very discouraged.
How do I handle her and the children when they flat out lie about how I treat them?
I hear that this is a common situation that can arise in divorced and remarried families with children. The situation you describe would most definitely invite feelings of frustration and discouragement, especially since have been coping with this for 10 years.
Of course there have been a series of events leading up to this point and a history that you have all been creating together. Some mom’s can be very loyal to their children and their ideas about how best to raise them. Sometimes the idea of another woman having an influence of their children will trigger a sense of vulnerability, leading to an urge to try to hold on and control the situation as much as possible. Whenever there is such anger between people there tends to also be some fear and sadness underneath.
That being said, where is your husband in all of this? He is the person you mention the least in your email.
What does your partnership look like? Most importantly, are you a team or is the emotion of the situation coming between you? Do you spend most of your energy dealing with his ex-wife or focusing on building a strong relationship together? What has been his reaction to his ex-wife and their relationship? How would you describe his relationship with his children?
There are many possible reasons for the lack of boundaries between you and his ex-wife. I would be interested to know if you and your husband talked about what your role would be with his children after you were married. Is he also a disciplinarian or do you take on that job? Do you each agree on common rules for your home? Sometimes step-parents choose to take on the role of being a friend to the children, leaving the discipline up to the parents, but this is also dependent on the age of the children. There are many possibilities for your relationship with his kids. Think about the fun you could be having!
As an experiment, if you were to take a step back from managing the situation for a period of time, what do you think would happen? I would guess that your husband and his ex-wife would finally have to communicate and sort out their own parenting issues without putting you in the middle.
Thanks for writing. I’m positive your question will help other step-mom’s out there who are in a similar situation.
*From 'Family Therapy' Q&A on myshrink.com
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