Monday, April 27, 2015
To the Stepmother of My Children,
I am writing to you as the mother figure in my children’s lives in their dad’s home. Children need mothers to be nurturing, comforting, and gentle teachers. In fact, the root word for “discipline” is “teach”. The two boys feel very stressed when visiting their dad for the weekend. They feel they are barely tolerated and aren’t allowed to make small, normal mistakes without immediate punishment or constant threats of punishment. They feel they cannot respectfully speak up for themselves without being told they are “sassing”, when they are people who simply are trying to be understood. I don’t know if you and their father truly understand how deeply stressed they are. They love their father, but have an extremely difficult time when it is their weekend to be there. Of course there will be some adjustment going from one household to another, and that is to be expected. And there will always be things about each household that they don’t like, and that’s normal too. But it has come to be that they are asking and pleading not to have to go to Indy when it’s their weekend to go. And when they come home, they each break down sobbing about their time there.
I understand I am only hearing one side of how things are. This is their perception of how things are, and what they perceive is what their reality is. What the boys are asking for is compassion, patience, and respect.
Are they loud?
Are they bouncy?
Can they try our patience simply because they are children?
Are they perfect?
None of us are. As children, their brains are still developing, and they are still learning about the world around them; how things work, how to behave in various situations, how to read other people, how to handle their emotions. As adults, when we make a mistake, or lose our patience, what helps us in that moment? Support? Empathy? Understanding? Kind guidance? These two boys need these also.
The boys did not have a say in their father moving 100 miles away from them. They really didn’t have a say in whom he chose as a partner and to share their household. But when they told me that you and their father were marrying, they were very happy. They liked you so much and always said how nice you were to them. Those two sweet boys asked me to teach them how to bake and frost a cake so they could make one as a gift for you. They’ve never done that for anyone else.
Being a parent is hard. Being a step parent is hard, too. You are helping to shape their childhood and creating memories for them and with them. What kind of memories do you want to make?
When they are adults and look back on their childhood, how will they remember their time at home? How will they remember us? How will they speak of us?
You have such an influence on how these sweet boys grow up. As the mothers of our households, we truly set the mood for our family. The world can be a tough place, but we can make their home a safe and comfortable haven. A place to be themselves, make mistakes, and have a soft place to land. And learn how to do better the next time.
I don’t know if this will affect how the interactions continue between you, but I needed to speak up on their behalf. My sons are the most precious gifts God could have ever given to me. I love the way the older one thinks. His imagination and cleverness is out of this world. He’s ridiculously smart, and has a thirst for knowledge and how things work. And the younger one is so sweet and tender-hearted, things affect him deeply. He’s very perceptive to people’s feelings and extremely compassionate. And SO funny! He makes me laugh every day, even when I’m starting to lose my patience with him.
I hope you are able to enjoy each of them individually for their own unique personality.