Recently, I spoke with a woman who holds a role very similiar to many of us. She is both a mom and a stepmom. She embraces her role as both and seeks a good relationship with her children’s stepmom. However, her kid’s stepmom recently did something that has this mom very upset – the stepmom had her stepkids’ (this woman’s children) names tattoed next to her own children’s names. The stepkids names were added to the tattoo she already had of her own kids.
Understandably, this mom/stepmom is upset. It hurts and angers her that her children’s names are tattoed on another woman’s body. She believes this woman crossed the line and is torn between whether to confront her or not and if she confronts her – what should she say.
It is hard for me to offer solid advice not knowing all the dynamics of this mom and stepmom’s relationship. What was the motivation behind the stepmom getting the tattoo? Did she do it to validate her role as stepmom? Was she feeling insecure as a wife and stepmom? Did she do it to spite the mom of her stepkids? The motivation is unknown.
If she did it to spite the mom or to make her role as their stepmom more real then confronting her will probably leave this mom more upset and frustrated. If this stepmom had the tattoo for selfish/negative reasons than she may expect an angry response from the mom and might possibly be happy that she is upset. If she’s the type that is expecting a response, the best response you can give her is to not respond.
It’s my understanding that this mom is considering confronting the stepmom to tell her she has crossed the line because she doesn’t want her to do something like this again. This mom asking the question would like clear boundaries set on the role of mom and stepmom. But in confronting the stepmom of her kids, I believe this mom may run the risk of her kids’ stepmom doing more things like this in the future if it is her intention to upset the mom and/or if she doesn’t care about the mom and her feelings.
A line that I read once when I was going through my divorce was this; “He who angers you controls you” anonymous. I love the quote and I remind myself of it daily as I do not want to give anyone that type of power over me.
I would encourage this mom/stepmom to work through her anger. She has a right to be hurt, she has a right to be angry. I know I would be if I were in her situation. But what we do with the anger is key. I don’t know what confronting the stepmom will accomplish. I don’t know if she will listen and be remorseful and agree to not do something similar in the future. One big possible outcome of confronting is to be left feeling more upset especially if this mom has an expectation of what type of response she wants from the stepmom. Unfortunately, that tattoo is there and is for all purposes – unremoveable.
Depending on this mom’s relationship with her ex-husband it may make the most sense to speak with him directly about how she feels. This way she can express her feelings without running the risk of getting into an arguement w/ the stepmom that could leave her feeling more frustrated and angry.
Here are some truths as I see them that can never be changed regardless of whether her kids’ names are tattoed on another woman:
You ARE the mother of your children
Your kids WILL ALWAYS be loyal TO YOU regardless of what the stepmom’s tattoo reads
Your kids WILL ALWAYS love you
As stepmoms, we know first hand that regardless of how much we love and take care of our stepkids they are most loyal to their mom and dad first. This is often very frustrating for stepmoms but should bring comfort to moms and communicate to moms that they don’t have to compete with stepmoms. Most of us truly want what is best for our marriage and for all of our kids (biological, adopted and step).
The above is my humble opinion on this matter. I wanted to open this up for other stepmoms to respond and encourage this woman and share any experiences that might be similiar.
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