There are so many stories unfortunately of stepmothers feeling the brunt of hostility from the birthmother. Is this true for you? Stepmothers did not sign up for this when they fell in love with a man who had children. So many stepmothers experience verbal hostility, criticism and at times physical attack from an angry birthmother.
Have you experienced direct hostility from your step children’s mother?
When I hear of these situations I often ask myself, ‘Where is the stepmother’s partner when this is happening?’ ‘Why is it that she is having to face such difficult situations and be put in a position where she feels ridiculed, alienated and stigmatised for caring about her stepchildren?’
I have no intention of pointing the finger at stepmother’s partners however I would like to ask you if you happen to be reading this, ‘Where are you when your beloved is being attacked?’ Stepmothers are not responsible to remedy or complete the unfinished business which exists between the biological parents. The stepmother can offer support to her partner as he embarks on establishing new boundaries in regards to communication, physical space, visitation with the children and financial commitments. The best way to be able to establish these boundaries would ideally be for the stepmother and her partner to work really closely as a team in consultation with the biological mother. However, this is not always possible as a stepmother can feel uncomfortable and anxious about being in the presence of the birth mother based on prior experiences of hostility.
This topic is an important one to be addressing because it is more common than not in stepfamilies. Many stepmothers are faced with on going hostility from the birth mother which creates so much anxiety, confusion and self-doubt for a woman who is caring for the children of her partner.
Here are 4 suggestions to help you navigate this often challenging component of your stepfamily:
1. Take a step back from any conflict and ask that your partner be the one to receive any form of communication from the birth mother. For example, ask her to no longer send you emails, text messages and to stop making direct phone calls to you. If you need to block her from your phone and email go right ahead.
2. The times when your partner would like to talk about what is going on with the birth mother, really ask yourself if you wish to know what is happening. You can create a boundary between you and your partner in relation to how much detail you get to know in regards to any problems. It’s really important that you know your limit and if hearing any information compromises your well-being then it is clear that there needs to be a very firm boundary in place.
3. If there is immense hostility and you feel a great threat to your livelihood then an intervention order may be required. Your partner may need to talk with legal aid or a family lawyer to gather more information on how to do this.
4. Counselling maybe what your partner needs to help offer him support in gathering strategies and a deep understanding about how to be in relationship to his ex partner. Where you can, encourage him to speak to a professional and to seek help.
Stepmothers, where you can step back from any conflict and encourage your partner to be your much needed buffer. He needs to do the very best that he can to protect you from harm. Do you currently feel that your partner is your buffer?
I would love to hear from you and I would love to hear how you have been able to negotiate with your partner a really healthy way of managing such a difficult situation. You can head on over to my Facebook group Amazing Stepmum Support Group and share with us your insights, experience and wisdom. You can also comment below.
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