Do Your Stepkids Tell Mom Everything?
BY MARY T. KELLY, MA
“All violations of essential privacy are brutalizing.” –Katherine Fullerton Gerould
Like me, you’ve probably never heard of Katharine Fullerton Gerould. She was a well-respected writer who was born in the late 1800s. I wonder what she would think of stepfamilies and the very real and consistent problem of privacy.
Let’s not mince any words here.
It is absolutely brutal to live in a family system where you don’t know what your husband’s children are saying about you when they return to mom’s house. Or when your husband gets a call from his ex-wife who is saying, “I heard that your wife … such and such … blah, blah, blah.”
I don’t know what you have experienced in this regard, but all too often this happens to stepmothers on a daily basis, leaving them feeling naked, exposed, violated and betrayed. And powerless.
Nothing will depress a person more than feeling powerless.
As a therapist, when I run a group I ask each member to pledge confidence about what goes on in our meetings. I ask that what is shared in the meeting stays in the meeting. I also tell the members that (because it is a group) I cannot guarantee that each group member will honor the request for confidentiality. The more people there are in a system, the more opportunity there is for leakage.
It’s no different in a stepfamily system. You cannot control what comes out of the mouths of your husband’s children when they are not in your home. You cannot control the distortions, accusations or judgments.
That’s the bad news. But the good news is there is a potential solution that provides your husband and you, if you so choose, with an excellent opportunity to teach the children a lesson. …To read the rest of this article, log in and download the August 2018 issue. Don’t have an account? Click here to subscribe.