Dear Annie: My incredible husband of two years has a 4-year-old daughter with his ex-wife. I have actively helped raise “Christie” since she was barely a year.
We haven’t communicated with the mother since the time we took her to court for refusing visitation, but my husband and I have always provided for Christie in every way possible, above and beyond the court-ordered child support. This little girl loves me. I have never tried to replace her mother or encouraged or expected her to call me “Mom.”
But lately, Christie has been questioning my relationship with her father, saying the reason her mommy and daddy are not together is because of me. When I ask her to do something she doesn’t want to do, she says her mommy says she doesn’t have to listen to me because I am not her mother. Even worse, she’s been told that when my husband and I have a baby of our own, Daddy won’t love her as much as the new baby.
Christie is obviously too young to draw these conclusions on her own, so Mom is giving her these impressions or telling her these things outright. I don’t know why any mother would want to hurt her child this way, but I worry it is going to cause Christie to resent me. How can we handle this? – Stepmom in the Middle
Dear Stepmom: Many courts now recognize parental alienation. Suggest that your husband speak to his lawyer about this possibility. In the meantime, when Christie is with you, do your best to counter the negative brainwashing. Let her know how much you love her and always will; that a new baby means she will be more important than ever, and the new baby will need a big sister; that everyone in the household has chores to do, and you want her to learn to be a big girl. As she gets older, she will recognize her mother’s bitterness, so please don’t play into that drama.