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Friday, September 23, 2016

My Children Have Stepmother

Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine
Copyright 2015, Disney Cinderella
My former spouse, who is the father of my children, was remarried this summer and I haven't mentioned it because it isn't really part of my story...except, it is, because my children now have a permanent woman in their life...who isn't me!  She is "the mom" at the other house.

I don't know this woman well, though she has been present in the life of my children for quite a while. She is at the children's activities, performances and celebrations. Sometimes, we even sit next to each other.

From what I do know, she treats them with respect and they all like her.  My outside observation is that she provides a sense of stability and care for them while they spend time with their dad.  Because they spend time with her weekly, I know she will have an influence in their lives and shape part of their experience while they are apart from me.  I don't relish the idea of a woman I didn't select having a priority position in the lives of my children.  But this experience is a common aspect of life after divorce and simply part of our reality.  I can live in denial and rail against what is, but that is futile and leads to anxiety, depression and despair.  Instead, I choose to work with the factors that play in the lives of my children and find the positive (more on that another day).

As a stepmom myself, I know the challenge it is to accommodate and serve children who may or may not recognize your role in their lives.  I understand that it can be difficult to find your place.  I have to respect that a unrelated woman is choosing to share her life with my children.

Stepmom life isn't for the weak, so I know she makes sacrifices on behalf of children that aren't her own.  I am grateful that during the times we are together for the sake of the children, we have avoided awkward least so far.  I appreciate that she defers to me as their mom and doesn't attempt to usurp my role.  Ultimately, I do think we both desire to operate in a way that minimizes their confusion.  I can live with that.

Five Essential Stepmom Skills

Stepmother Influence Family Identity

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