Know-It-All: Evil Step Mothers

Editorial Note: I have witnessed first-hand step-mums who have done their best and tried their hardest and plowed through to the best of their ability and strength…only to be met repeatedly with abuse and oppression. This article isn’t about them. This article will never be about them. This article is about the abuser (regardless of which parent — bio or other) and no one else.

Hey MAha,
I am living with a man whoi has two children from his first marriage.  I want to have a family with him but don’t want his first family involved and I think he spend soto much time with his kifds./ I don’t like his xwife and all hid 8 and 11 kids do is make trouble for us whjenm all I wanna do is get on with our oen fsmily. I don’t know how to do this and don’t think we should do this with them around.

Dear Step,

I think you’re doing yourself a kindness by calling yourself a ‘mom’, so I’ve decided to just call you STEP.

Thank you so much for sending this my way.

I am going to give this to you from two angles, first from the hard angle, and second from a softer angle.

Are you kidding me with this question? Honest to God, when I read it on my blackberry I nearly threw it across the room.

You have absolutely no right to take a man away from his children. As a woman who once struggled very very deeply with the loss of her father to a second wife who on a few occassions was forced to engage me and did so coldly, who never opened her arms to me, who would not welcome me, thoughts (because nothing tells me you have turned them into actions yet) like yours are only deserving of a big fat fuck you.

I will plant and raise a flag here: The step mother is just as responsible as the biological parent. Where one of them is a weak link, the other one needs to do double duty because the absolute innocents in this situation are the babies. 8 and 11 are babies still — and they will remain as much, emotionally, well into their teens and young adult hood. Your job and obligation is to be there for them — it is not to be there for you and only you.

Additionally, children are extremely smart and even more intuitive than adults because they have neither bitterness nor defensiveness from shit experiences. THEY KNOW. And they will react in kind to your ugliness if you continue on this path.

Plain and simple, you shouldn’t be with this man. If you are not capable of allowing his children into your heart and your home, you need to break up with this man immediately. Else, you will be doing such a gross disservice to little people, the repercussions of which they will carry into their adult lives, and if you are not held accountable for creating this pain in this world, make no mistake that you will be held accountable in the next.

If you decide to stay with this man and build a family, then unequivocally: Your home is their home. Your family is their family. You impart a level of fairness and justice to the children of his first marriage as you would to your own with him. If you feel like you can not treat his children with the same love and kindness you would your own, then you need to walk away because they’re not going anywhere (NOR SHOULD THEY HAVE TO).

Sorry. This subject makes me yell-y.

Bottom line is — and I’m not saying that you are adopting them (because you are not, because they have a mother and you should not be an interloper, but rather a support system to that situation) — if you don’t believe that you can love someone the same way you would your own seedlings, then this may not be the relationship for you.

Please please please tread gently.

Speaking of gently, here’s my gentler and kinder advice, with which I will close: You have been presented with the opportunity to make your heart a little bigger.

You have been blessed with the opportunity to become a friend, a mentor, a safe haven.

God has given you some football gear and said: If you want, you have the choice to be the third line of defence in the world of these two children. (And maybe some day have your own.)

You have the opportunity to engage your partner’s first wife and recognise that she will always have a love shared with your man, and you need to pay that some very real and deep respect. She needs to be a part of your life, because that eases the way for the babies. She needs to be a part of your life because we Sisters need to do this for one another because this is not a competition. That “I don’t like his xwife,” is simply unacceptable from either of you (unless she is the devil, and there are some) — all of you need to deal with this shit and check your asses accordingly.

You have the opportunity to learn and to love just a little bit more, and these are not opportunities we get very often in this world.

Step, you have already made a choice to become involved with a man who has a very real and present history that you can touch and hug and cuddle. Whether you choose to call these children “baggage” or “family” is entirely within your field of decision making.

Finally, if you really love him, and if he is dumb enough to accept your initial reaction which is to disengage from his children…if you really and truly love him, you will ask him to be a better man. You will ask him to not disengage. To never disengage. You will work ten times as hard to talk to these children and to remind them that their mum and dad’s separation is not about them, never about them. That they are loved, always were, always will be, and now there’s one more person to love them even more. If you really and truly love him, you will make the active choice to be a better woman.

The little girl inside of me is sad to think that you might be selfish enough to hurt two little children; the woman inside of me is angry that you would even contemplate it. Again, I will remind you to please please please tread gently. Also, to get in touch in six months and let me know how you are doing and what choices you have made, please.

– M