Caring for the Children of Divorce
I have recently remarried and become a stepmom. I wanted to share a bit of my experience with other moms out there.
My husband is a devoted father, which is sometimes hard to find. His ex-wife does so much to prevent him from seeing his child, even just for an extra 2 hours here and there. Why? Why do some mothers stop their children from having a healthy relationship with their fathers?
I'm obviously not speaking to the mothers that have absentee fathers, and I feel for you, I really do. But I see so much of the other side, where it's not the man's fault but the woman's. Divorced moms, I plead with you—if you have an ex-husband that is a healthy person who WANTS to spend time with his child—don't hold him back. Stop giving him a hard time. My husband and I are always giving, and we are always nice to his ex, and all we get in return is her complete control over his child. We have to constantly hear, “I have sole custody. I am the primary caregiver.” We get it—you are the mom; no one is taking that away from you. But think about your kid. Your child wants a relationship with BOTH parents.
These poor children didn't ask for this. They didn’t expect to be shlepped back and forth between households, to follow different rules at each parent’s house, to remember which of their belongings are where. Make it easier for them. Say yes—yes to allowing your child to spend more time with his or her father. Things don't have to be so difficult—just be kinder to each other.
And to all the stepmoms out there—this is the most thankless job that you will have. You take care of these kids, you are kind and caring, you want them to be happy and live a balanced life. Kudos to you!! Every time I have a successful weekend, I give myself a treat. Because you’re acting with a great level of chessed; it's not the natural way of things to take care of someone else's child so wholeheartedly. Good for you! Allow yourself to have bad moments, and remember that you’re human and are doing your best.
For those stepmothers that are having a hard time...I hear your pain, but please remind yourselves that this is not the child's fault. He or she is the most innocent party here. Be kind. Do fun things. Make your stepchild want to come back to you. Follow the guidelines from the mom, because she is his or her mother; you are the stepmom, so don't step on her toes. Remain neutral with her. You never know when you will have to be the mediator—things can go from good to bad in an instant, and if you are the only one who is neutral, you can help in a big way.
Try not to discipline these children too much—you want them to enjoy themselves with you! But you should demand respect; don't allow any disrespect in your home. For example, if the children are misbehaving, say the following: “I know that I am not your mother, but I do care for you, and you need to respect me" or "I understand that I'm not your mother, but I still need you to clean your room." These are all just personal thoughts and ideas. I don't mean to insult anyone or to overstep, but I know firsthand what divorce is like, and what it is to be a stepmother. It is hard, but if everyone keeps in mind the things I mentioned above, a successful and supportive environment can be created and maintained between everyone involved in divorce and remarriage.
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