Hey, dads – listen up.
One of the most common conflicts I hear in second marriages with kids goes like this:
“My husband/boyfriend wants me to be a ‘mother figure’ for his kids. I keep reading that it’s not the right approach but he doesn’t understand and I whenever I try to talk to him about it I feel like a heel.”
Yes, this is the little stepfamily puddle that has a way of turning into a sinkhole right before it swallows your house, man-cave and white picket fence.
Let me just say that I know this dynamic might work for some folks, but in most cases, a stepmom will work her butt off and it’ll never be enough. Wanna know why?
Because your kids already have a mother, and even if she doesn’t do any of the things a mother is supposed to do, most kids would say that the position is filled.
- Your kids don’t want another mother
A child with two ‘mothers’ can get stuck at some point in a ‘loyalty bind’ – they want to be able to like your new partner, and maybe even love her, but there’s only room for one mother in their heart. When they have to kick her out of the nest, they get stabbed with a guilty feeling and then they want to punish themselves.
You know what it looks like when a child wants to punish themselves? Yes, Bobbi, you do. Now you know what ‘that’ was all about!
2. It’s not good for ‘stepmom’ (or whatever you call her – I’ve always hated that word myself!)
She’s going to be activated in her ‘maternal instinct’, which has a way of making a woman run herself ragged to prove that she’s good enough in this like-a-mother role and there’s no way to win this. She’ll never get the affirmation she needs to make it all feel worthwhile. They won’t appreciate her efforts, and you’ll start to slide into expecting her to just do all those motherly things by default. This leads to resentment, and the statistics tell the story after that: 60-70% of second marriages with kids end in divorce. No wonder!
3. It’s not good for you, dad.
Parenting after divorce is hard a/f.
Hey, it’s hard enough for most people before divorce!
Nobody wants to use up their precious visiting time throwing red cards or sending kids to their room, but I have some bad news for you. There’s no room in a stepfamily to run the trusty “good cop/bad cop” play. You’re gonna have to learn to be both cops, all the time.
And if she starts parenting like you think you want her to, she’s going to start to notice all the things you do differently than she thinks they oughta be done, and she’s going to start complaining about stuff that’s actually none of her business. If you’re gonna make it her business by asking her to be a mother to your kids, you’ll probably be sorry!
You need to figure out how to stand in your boots as a parent and that’s going to take some practice. Yes, you’re gonna fail at it from time to time and it’s my job to remind her to resist the urge to rub your nose in it. These are your kids and that means you get to mess up, and figure it out, and try again as much as you want.
Now when it comes to learning new tricks, you might need help getting pointed in the right direction. That might include pointing yourself in my direction, because I teach that stuff to the dad who needs help figuring out what’s gonna work for you now that bio-mom is undoing all your parenting faster than she can cash a support cheque!
Join my group over at One For The Dads where I answer guys’ parenting questions and share some suggestions. This week I did a livestream video for the dads about how to create a culture of respect in your home, or even between homes. If you’d like to see that video, just reply to this email and I’ll be glad to send you the link!
I also offer coaching for those dads who don’t do social media but still have a strong feeling about how they want their kids to turn out and wish they knew how to make that happen in the 50/50 lifestyle!
Book a call and find out if my Undeletable Dad coaching program would be a good fit for you!