Dear Annie: When I married my husband, I suddenly became a full-time stepmother to his three young children, all under age 5. Their mother would pop up when it was convenient for her. She rarely called on their birthdays and often left them waiting for scheduled visits. I raised those children, and they called me “Mommy.”
Now, after 10 years, the mother has returned and plans to stick around. This woman is irresponsible, immature and impossible to reason with. There have been many problems, including drug use around the kids. They are afraid to upset her for fear she will abandon them again. She has threatened on more than one occasion to walk out on them if they tell their father about her drug use. She leaves them alone for hours or brings them around people the kids do not feel comfortable with.
She tells the kids that my husband kept her from seeing them all those years, which is patently untrue. He has gone out of his way to make sure they have some sort of relationship. I truly try my best to stay out of the middle. She says I’m “just the stepmom” and should keep my mouth shut.
Are my opinions irrelevant? She has violated every court order as if she is above the law. She also has no problem involving the kids in this mess and seems to have won them over by playing the victim. How should I deal with this problem that won’t go away? – Irrelevant Mommy
Dear Mommy: Those children desperately want their mother’s love and will eventually realize that it comes with strings attached. Until then, let your husband handle all problems so you don’t become the target of her manipulations. Keep a record of any damaging behavior, missed visits, drug use, etc., which your husband should report to his attorney. If the children have not had counseling, please consider it. And give them extra doses of affection, attention and stability. They need you to be their rock.