Thursday, February 11, 2010

Q&A - A Stepmum's Challenge

The following is an email I received some days ago. I have attempted to respond to it by private email, however, as it kept on bouncing back and the question posed is the type of question I get asked time and time again, I decided to post both question and answer on this blog. I hope that you, dear stepmum who has asked this question will revisit and find your answer here.

I've found your website and I would really love some advice on how to help my partner come to terms with his divorce and the kids. We have the kids one week on and one week off (as their mother wishes). He still feels very guilty. He is finding it hard to discipline them as he is worried he will lose them. So our life is run by the children and their wants. In addition if his ex wants to do things in a certain way then our lives are turned upside down for this, but she will not change anything for us. I am finding it very hard to cope with and becoming very angry and bitter towards the kids and the ex. We've been together for 4 years so I was hoping by now my life wouldn't have to be run by the ex and the kids.

Hi stepmum,

Unfortunately how you describe your world is extremely common in stepfamilies and in my experience the only way this ever really changes is through counselling. A third party is far better able to explain that parenting from guilt is just as detrimental to the children as it is to the second marriage. Generally speaking, most husbands suspect their new wives of jealousy or other unsavoury motives when they attempt to help them see the truth in this matter. Far from encouraging the desired changes this frequently causes the partner to be even more lenient with their children which, of course, only increases the chasm between the couple....and so it becomes a vicious cycle. Thus, I cannot recommend counselling strongly enough as I've seen it work time and time again, sometimes even in circumstances that seemed almost beyond the point of redemption.

Good luck and best wishes,

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