ASK NAJA: BM is a terrorist but my Stepkids love me
Q: I’ve had HCBM blocked for 5 years. Since the kids are with us for the summer, DH and I decided to allow her to contact me. That lasted for 2 days!!!
“Thanks for taking great care of my kids.”
(2 minutes later)
“You will never be able to attend a birthday, graduation or wedding of my kids! You are NOT welcome. If I ever see you, I’ll knock your teeth out! You are ugly. I am pretty.”
I just got both of these texts within minutes of each other! BM is troubled, to put it nicely. 5 years of court fraud, death threats, stalking and severe parental alienation has proven that she is a toxic human. When she wants money, she’s pleasant but MOST of the time she is a ticking time bomb of fury and hatred. Although she had a whole boyfriend before, during and after she filed for divorce from my husband, she targets me. She knows I didn’t meet him until they were well into their court proceedings, he was already paying support and they lived in separate states. During a calm convo, she even admitted to me that she started the infidelity in their marriage!!!
In hindsight, it was messy. I know.
Anyway, my question is how do I maintain/form a bond with my stepkids when they have a toxic mother? We have finally been able to ENFORCE my Husband’s visitation! This b*tch sent them for their 1st summer visit, out of state- without even a sock. Mind you, we have bought airfare/clothes before and the kids were a no-show. She even refused to send us their sizes, so we had to wing it! By the time they arrived, we had their space fully stocked!
They adore me and I simply adore them. I thought they would hate me because of how she feels. I was dead wrong. I recently became aware that she has trained them not to take photos with me, not to get close to me, not to allow me to touch their hair etc. I can, however, cook, clean and buy them things. Basically, she has tried to relegate me to being the help while they visit their dad. She has involved my teen SD in the drama while she’s been here, but this girl seems so well adjusted that she has not changed her polite temperament with me. She and I still have our nightly talks and she’s very open with me. The younger kid loves to cuddle with me and expresses her love often. They are leaving soon and (per usual) I’ve already been told I will not be “allowed” to communicate with them. Not because the kids don’t want to, but simply because their mom is triggered by me.
*Fun fact- I’ve never met this chick. Me and DH live in separate states from her and the kids.
A: I have a LOT to say because this hits so close to home. One thing that you have to accept is that this person NEEDS to blame someone bc the mess she seems to have made of her own life is too much to admit self-infliction. While it takes 2 to tango, you found yourself at the tail end of some mess. WHat’s alarming is that a significant amount of time has passed, but you all cannot seem to move past the drama. When I see BS drag on this long, it’s far deeper than normal woman scorn and beef. I suspect TRAUMA. This woman is battling repressed trauma and you’re just a trigger. I don’t mean to minimize YOU, but this isn’t personal against YOU. You represent a something terrible for her. Does she self-harm? Is she depressed? Is she abusive? I bet one of these answers is YES.
NOW LETS FOCUS ON THE KIDS- At this point, since you and dh don’t even live in the same state, the kids are 100% at her mercy. Imagine being helplessly dependent on a volatile parent?! These types of parents become enmeshed with their kids. They are domineering but they portray themselves as victims. These types of mothers are emotional terrorists to their kids. The oldest is usually indoctrinated with false principles of codependency and given the responsibility being their moms’ caretaker. Boys typically form unhealthy neediness (aka Babyboy syndrome). As SM, you should play the role of a ‘babysitter’. You have authority and you command respect. The kids will associate you with a loving woman with their father. You should focus on creating good memories and bond with them over common interests. I keep updated family pictures and baby pics of them) all over our home so that my SK can feel included and the happy images of me, dad and them can be etched in their minds. The power of the mind is an amazing tool when used for good and not evil. Everyday, I catch one of them just starring and smiling at the pictures. When they leave your home, you should decompress and enjoy your Spouse. Do not impose when they are away because their mother will be able to “punish” them because they LIKE you. You don’t want to be associated as ‘something that sets their mother off’. They will become afraid of you and you will see a stark difference in how they treat you next time they visit. Remember, this woman has fostered a sick-dependency while she alienated their dad. My guess is he probably isn’t even seen as a real parent. She has likely painted him as just a guy that abandoned them who she ‘allows’ them to hang out with. I would also advise you to have dh enforce the privacy in your home. They don’t need to go home doting about how great you are and how much they love you. This will only cause their mother’s visceral to heighten. For now, be cool. Enjoy these kids because they are enjoying you! Send them back with a family photo album (sorry, YOU can’t be in it) to show their friends at school! Understand that you are planting emotional deposits in the lives of these kids. Stepparents, especially SMs have a VERY fragile role. You get to assume the responsibility of a parent, but you may not get the reward. Your role is conditional. The bioparent/child bond is unconditional. Show them love while they are with you. They will never forget that you were fair to them and that you love their dad. As they reach young adulthood, some may fight off their mother’s manipulative stronghold and embrace you as a Bonus mom, some may always be a little standoffish and some may not ever fool with you. As SMs, remember, ALL you signed up for was to ride Daddy’s wang! You have my permission to eject yourself from the drama, block bm to infinity, be the fun parent and kindly detach when your heart feels like it’s about to break. Sis, you got this!!!