If I’ve heard this from one stepmom, I’ve heard it from hundreds… “why is it when I bring a concern about my stepchildren to my husband, he blames me and tells me to be the adult and before I know it we are fighting each other and the concern I have doesn’t even get discussed?”
To answer this, you must first understand this truth:
Most biological/adoptive parents view their child through a different lens than a stepparent does and the lens each looks through impacts what they see.
Click here to read my full article on this.
You see, a bio parent first looks at their child through the lens of love and therefore is more likely to give grace. Sometimes a parent unconsciously moves into denial and/or excuses.
A stepparent is more likely to view that same child through the lens of responsibility and therefore more likely to see negative behaviors and have a higher drive to “help” the child.
The bio parent feels like the stepparent is critical and the stepparent believes the parent is passive — and they are talking about this in regards to the same child.
Therefore, when a stepmom brings a concern to the father he may:
- minimize the concern/behavior. It can be hard on a father to think that his child is lying, manipulating, etc… If your husband equates his child’s choices with his parenting — he may feel guilt. You say “your child did this….” and he hears “you are a bad parent.” You didn’t tell your husband he is a bad parent but it is often how he takes it.
- shift the blame to you. Easier to debate with you then to address the issue with his child.
- dismiss to avoid upsetting his child. They may know their child can be “set off” and so they choose not to “wake the bear.” For the father, this seems like a smart choice. For the stepmom, it feels like the child’s behavior controls the home.
It is true “he who causes the most chaos, controls the home.”
For a stepmom, it can be hard when she sees her husband as strong and decisive at work and with her yet passive with his kids. She knows he moves into problem solving mode in most situations. She desires to help her stepchild and wants her husband to move into problem solving mode with his child.
That’s hard for a stepmom when she has a heart to help but is not only brushed aside but often made to feel like she is being critical.
If you’ve been told “be the adult” by your husband when you’ve brought something to him, you know what I am talking about.
May I suggest never responding with “be the husband and father and lead this family. Do something about it,” to your spouse in response. Just say’n — it most likely won’t work.
So what is a stepmom to do when she’s living in the consequences of a stepchild’s poor choices and the father seems unwilling to do anything?
- Boundary setting
- Look at things through your husband’s perspective
- Disagree but support (see yesterday’s post)
- Take yourself out of the message delivery whenever possible. If it’s a call from school have them speak directly to your husband.
- Stop trying to convince your husband. Share your concerns with him and if he comes back at you with concerns over you then simply end your part of the conversation. “Sharing the facts. I’m trusting you to handle it,” and walk away. If your convincing hasn’t gotten you anywhere to date, try this. You have nothing to loose except some heated disagreements.
Sometimes it becomes easier for a husband to “fight” his wife then deal with what his child is doing. Taking yourself out of the “fight” leaves him with the information only. This nugget comes from a conviction my own husband had in regards to one of his daughters. He admitted it was easier to challenge me then it was to see the truth of what she was doing. Think about that. When someone we love is making poor choices, isn’t this something we all might do unconsciously … make excuses, divert our attention etc.
Be sensitive to your husband. It’s not easy seeing your child walk down a path you would never carve out for them.
Day 4 of Reboot Your Remarriage is here. What are you going to do with this info? Can you apply it to the next time you have to share info with your spouse that might be potentially hard for him to hear? Can you look at his children through his lens and have compassion for him? Think about what this could do for your marriage. It may not stop the behaviors but it most likely won’t pull you apart.
Would love your thoughts.
Feeling worn out with stepfamily drama and want to restart? Join us for a weekend of help, hope and healing January 29-31, 2016 in Rome, Georgia at the amazing WinShape Retreat center. This all-inclusive weekend is full of workshops, encouragement, alone time to recharge and you’ll meet and make friends with other women on the journey. You’ll go home refreshed and you’ll bring that back to your marriage and family. Join us! Click here. Space is limited.