Dearest Residential Stepmom

I’ve known for years you perceive me as a sorely lacking mother because I signed a settlement agreement making me the non-resident parent.  Of course, you choose to ignore all the events leading up to that point because if you actually dared to confront those realities, you would realize what you are married to and what that makes you as well: an accomplice.  You see, if not for your adultery with the father and support in his legal fight, a little three-year-old girl wouldn’t have lost her primary caregiver and same-sex parent on a full-time basis.  Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that the right attorney, having more money than the other parent and ability to falsely accuse the other parent to your child is what it takes to win custody rights, not parental fitness.  Believe me, it took me by complete surprise. Talk about a miscarriage in justice and due process and I’m sure you have to confront your demons in the parts you played in it.  It’s probably why you have an insatiable need to demonize me and have a persecution complex.

My baby girl shouldn’t be constantly subjected to parental alienation, emotional abuse and a household hostility towards her mother. She shouldn’t be experiencing her father betray her to placate insecurities you need to confront, process and resolve without involving either of them.  Let me give you a little tip since it still hasn’t registered for you in almost eleven years: you are NOT her mother.  You are not LIKE a mother to her.  You are not her bonus mother. You are not her OTHER mother.  You cannot EARN your way into being the mother because it’s not void.  I didn’t pass off the baton or even hint I would.  You are her stepmother. A role that is NOT mother otherwise you’d have real, enforceable responsibilities to her separate of any relationship you have with her other parents.  I can’t even sue you personally for your misconduct with my child. Why? You aren’t a legal parent with any individual responsibilities outside of your spouse.  I know, I know…you’ll semantically argue your social relationship with the child and a laundry list of what you do for her believing you are entitled to with her but no one can hold you accountable for a thing.  I’d love to.  I’d love to seek damages for a child  that has been harmed by you, attempts at alienation of affection for her mother, her paternal family, influencing a father to abuse/neglect his own child, abandon his family and all universal boundaries you’ve traipsed all over…brought out in court and line-itemed for real sanctioning only you can pay for.  If you were a real parent to her that would be possible.  Yes, I said REAL parent.  You know, the ones that unconditionally love children with enforceable responsibilities not based on mood, relational attachment or whim.

And no, your residential stepmommy status (no, you are not a custodial stepmother unless you have individual custody rights) doesn’t elevate you to a higher status than a non-resident stepparent.  It doesn’t make you a PARENT, just a harder working stepparent with the exact same rights and entitlements: none.  If you choose to take on responsibilities that don’t belong to you then don’t point the finger in my direction as though I have a thing to do with that reality in your home.  As painful as it might be for you to accept, you and/or your husband holds responsibility for whatever resentments you are feeling about too much responsibility, not enough recognition/gratitude for your labors with children-not-your-own.  You lament on and on about how put-upon you are by a “absent” mother but did it ever occur to you that the mother didn’t want this set-up or dynamic?  That your spouse fought for it, with whatever fancy legal tactics and monies the mother obviously didn’t have?  If Dad wanted to be the full-time parent, it is now his responsibility on his watch because Mom doesn’t get an option anymore?

While I want my child to have a loving, meaningful relationship with you, I don’t want her emotionally manipulated to help you validate and legitimatize a confusing role for you without her naive help.  She has a mother.  She has a father.  She has stepparents.  The stepparents need to figure out and define their role outside of that of other roles held in her life.

Mostly, I want you to stop breeding discontent and distrust between the actual parents through your influence with the one.  Cooperation between the homes is not possible if one of the parents is unwilling because of a loyalty bind and yes, a stepmother can create one with the father just as easily as a mother with her child.  I would have loved some kind of reconciliation between us but I know that bridge was burned years ago in the court battles.

Please stop doing my child’s post-divorce world harm.  If there is nothing else you can emotionally muster, please at least show evidence of your professing love for your stepchild by now longer doing her harm.  Otherwise, I fear you will lose whatever relationship she has left with you and you’ll blindly believe I’m to blame for it.

Praying for your evolvement,

The Non-resident (never-going away) Mother

~ by Stepfamily Letter Project on August 10, 2010.

4 Responses to “Dearest Residential Stepmom”

  1. Parental alienation is a destructive family dynamic where one parent damages, and in some cases destroys, a child’s normal, healthy relationship with the child’s other parent.

    I hope the parents and step-parents in the above letter can put their own needs aside and recongize that all children want the love and attention of both parents. A failure to recognize this fact and facilitate the parent/child bond is the essence of parental alienation.

    For more information and resources on parental alienation, please visit

  2. Exquisite! similar circumstance, but SHE only lives w/ex and children. Has a record, refuses to work, and through lies and abusive manipulation, has CREATED a false, harmful and blatant attack on my life. THEY HAVE LEGALLY TAKEN EVERYTHING, THAT MY FAMILY gave us. I REALLY DON’T HAVE ANY HOPE. BUT, MAYBE, SOME ELSE WILL BNEFIT FROM MY PAIN. I LOVE MY CHILDREN SO. MY EX-HAD MY WORLD. HIS NARCISSISTIC DISORDER WILL KEPT TAKING MOVING, HURTING. BEWARE GIRLS, I HAVE NOTHING.

  3. Perhaps you “need to figure out and define their role outside of that of other roles held in her life” for the step-parents since you so clealy articulted throughout your letter that you dissaprove of everything that the stepmom does.

  4. I love this “letter” post! You seem to live in the same sort of evil jealous world of stepmoms as I do.
    Hope u dont mind, but im going to use some of your thoughts as I’m getting ready to dive into (again) the verbal and emotional abuse that my 10 yo son continues to battle. I especially like you pointing out that she takes on responsibilities that arent hers then complains because she hasnt figured out her role.

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