How Jealousy Affects Stepmom-Stepchild Relationships: It’s Not Easy Being Green, by Wednesday Martin, Phd
It has been said over and over: Children, even grown ones, feel threatened, displaced, hurt and scared when dad remarries. Less often do we hear how the stepmother experiences this reality: Hurt and threatened stepchildren are also frequently angry and jealous—and they want us gone.
A stepmother’s “vengefulness and jealousy” toward her husband’s powerless children may be something other than what it seems. Often, it is a fantasy and a projection, one that allows stepchildren of all ages to disavow a deeper, more disturbing truth. Feeling de-centered and enraged, envious of the woman who is now so important in the father’s life, a stepchild may transform his or her very own fantasies of revenge into a sense of victimization.
“Rather than acknowledging, ‘I’m angry and jealous,’ they tell themselves and anyone else who will listen, ‘She is a jealous, angry bitch,’” explains New York City-based Psychoanalyst Stephanie Newman, PhD. In other words, these intense and disturbing feelings the kids have themselves are so hard for them to cope with that they frequently put them on the stepmother.
Newman elaborates: “When I hear a story about a horrible, irredeemably jealous, petty stepmother from a patient, that is my clue to guide the patient toward understanding her own feelings of jealousy, anger, resentment and envy.”
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