Dear Bio-Mum

This will be the one and only time I reach out to you. I have, until now, maintained my silence, and have watched from the sidelines as your son and daughter have become more and more distressed by the conflict between their parents that they have experienced and on occasion, witnessed first hand. I have remained silent while trying to maintain some normality in their lives, and encouraged them to be the carefree, fun loving children that they used to be.

I don’t know, nor do I need to know, the reasons why your marriage to their Dad to failed. Of course, I know the story from his perspective, and recognise that there is a great deal of bitterness and ill feeling on both sides, and I am certain that you feel as vindicated and justified in those feelings as he does in his. Why else would you both continue to bear such ill-will towards each other when it is having such a devastating effect on your children?

The damage that has been done to your son and daughter over the past 2 years will never be fully undone, and definitely not forgotten by either of them. Milestones have been missed, experiences have not been shared and more painful memories are being created every day.

Your feelings of hostility towards me are both natural and understandable; I too have experienced the feeling of loss when my daughter is in her Dads care, and knowing that she is also developing a relationship with his new partner is upsetting and frightening in equal measure. But, this is a consequence of choices I made, and rather than dwell on the negative feelings that it causes me, I am trying to focus on the benefits that this provides. Our children all have opportunities to experience two very different lifestyles, with different priorities and values, and benefit from contact with a wide network of friends and family. Of course, this means that sometimes they will forms opinions, and attitudes, that are different from our own, or those that we would prefer them to have. But, in truth, I know that even if I ensure that my daughter is only exposed to people I approve of, and only do things that I would do, it only delays the inevitable. She is going to leave home, to study or get a job, just like your children will, and I will have to trust her to make her own decisions, and will be there to support her when she makes mistakes.

Your children are both incredibly sensitive to the feelings and emotions of the people they love, and their choices are strongly influenced by that. Your daughters choice, not to spend any time with her Dad, despite the close relationship they shared for years, is the ultimate illustration of this. She knows how betrayed you feel when she chooses to spend time with him, and that betrayal is multiplied 100-fold now that I am also a part of their life. For her, the choice was simple – she doesn’t want to hurt either of her parents, but she lives with you, and if she hurts you, she will see that pain in your eyes every day. She has made a choice that hurts her Dad instead, because she can avoid seeing the pain that she has caused him. She has seen first hand the pain that rejection caused you when her Dad left the family home, and her choice to reject her Dad reflects her anxiety to avoid subjecting you to further pain.

Over the last few weeks, I have seen your son become more and more confused and scared as he struggles to deal with the emotions that he is experiencing. He has desperately tried not to betray the loyalty he feels towards you, while at the same time, he enjoys the time he spends as a part of our family. He shows a great deal of responsibility towards you and your feelings; reassuring you that he loves you, and misses you, blowing you kisses down the phone to you when you call. This responsibility is beginning to extend to only accepting people into his life that you accept; it takes a great deal of effort on his part to avoid interaction or even eye contact with me when we are all together, and it is heartbreaking to see the fear return to his eyes when he realises that he has “forgotten” and has been having fun with me. I am beginning to adapt my behavior, to avoid putting him in positions where he will be faced with this conflict, but I will not reject him, as that will only compound his insecurity and fear.

Your children have both taken on a burden which is far beyond their years; one which they have not been given, but which they are currently putting ahead of their own happiness. I hope that together, you and their Dad will remove this burden from them, and support them to regain the remaining years of their childhood, whilst maintaining close, loving relationships with both of you. A child’s love is infinite; they always have more love to give, without it affecting their relationships with the people who are already in their lives.

from,

your children’s Step-Mum

~ by Stepfamily Letter Project on February 25, 2011.

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