How to explain ex step mom has moved on?

june1972February 4, 2010

Has anyone else had to explain to a child that their ex-step mom is a 'past relationship'....and then explain how people can move on after relationships?

My step son is 11 yrs old, and his ex step mom been separated from them for 3 yrsÂ. SheÂs had some visits with him here and there over those yearsÂbut they have gotten less and less, and the last time she scheduled a visit she didnÂt even follow through, then last month, she wanted to set up another visit with him, and so it was told to her that maybe it's best to let him 'move on' (as he wasn't asking about her anymore....and didn't seem to miss her... and we are starting our family together).

Then last Sunday after a family fun day, he says out of the blue "when do I get to see her again" Â..and IÂm not going to lie and say it doesnÂt hurtÂ. but I think our family outing triggered memories from when she was in his life.

What do you say when they ask ÂWhen do I get to see herÂ?

He also did this with a girlfriend that was in their life for about a year between the above relationship and meÂ.apparently this girl and my stepson didnÂt even like each otherÂ(and this was the first time he brought this gal up) he said he missed herÂ.then said "even tho she was mean sometimesÂI still miss her"

Which is why I think itÂs time that something is said to him, It seems to me he doesnÂt understand why people are in your life for a period, than are not.

How do you say it without it sounding as though heÂs been abandoned by them?

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June - I have a similar situation, although it deals with my own son, and not a step. My DS's dad was married to a woman after I had my DS. My DS went to visit with his dad & step mom while they were married, and after they divorced the ex-step mom still wanted to see my DS. I've always been gracious with the situation because she's always treated him very well and ex-step mom does have his half-sister, and I want DS to know his family, so I continue to let him have visits. He's older now, and the visits have gotten less, but she and her daughter are still part of his life so I'm not standing in the way of that. Family comes in all shapes, sizes, etc. We should embrace all we get.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 11:58AM
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Poppin, I think June has a slightly different situation, in that former SM appears to move on.

I think it is appropriate to tell child that after divorce people have other commitments and my not see Xs family members as much. Remind him all the new things he does. And that this doesnt mean FSM doesnt like him (although I wonder), just that this happens.

This is one BIG reason I think bioparents should have a much bigger role in kids lives than steps. Rate of divorce for second marriages is very high. I dont wish divorce on anyone, but kids should bear this.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 12:40PM
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It sounds as if this kid wants to maintain an attachment with his dad's ex's and if the ex tried to schedule time with him, she should not have been told no. This kid seems to have been put through a lot of women in and out of his life and he may have trouble with trusting because of it. Even the one that he said was mean... he wants some sort of acknowledgment that it meant something. So far, all he sees is that the women in dad's life come & go... I wouldn't cut off one that hasn't cut him off. I might explain that people move on with things in their life, like new relationships & jobs, but that doesn't mean she doesn't love him any less... and maybe now she can only see him occasionally. Can't they exchange phone numbers or email & keep in touch that way?

I know it's hard for you to have your DH's ex, who isn't even the mother to his child, in the picture at all. But, if she isn't interfering in your new life together, I would look at it like his long lost aunt that he wants to see him a few times a year. (the key words "AS LONG AS SHE ISN'T INTERFERING" in your life) And I would also tell her that if she makes plans, she needs to KEEP the plans because it hurts the child if she cancels & it disrupts YOUR life, which IS interfering.

And I'm sorry if this sounds mean, but your feelings are not as important as the child's feelings... in this regard: You are an adult. You are capable of thinking rationally and objectively. He is a child. He has had more than his share of women come & go, he may not really believe you are permanent. The fact that he asked about her after a long period where you thought he had moved on, only shows that he still thinks about it after all this time. He may not talk about it, but he will continue to think about it and wonder if relationships are just temporary things.. his parents marriage was.. his dad's ex's were.. maybe his mom has had a few too.. For that reason, I think it's important for you to put your (valid) feelings aside and do what you can to facilitate a relationship to continue between the child and his exSM...

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 1:52PM
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It seems to me that the former SM has been ambivalent at best about seeing the child

"SheÂs had some visits with him here and there over those yearsÂbut they have gotten less and less, and the last time she scheduled a visit she didnÂt even follow through, "

Its time to move on.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 2:01PM
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"then last month, she wanted to set up another visit with him, and so it was told to her that maybe it's best to let him 'move on' (as he wasn't asking about her anymore....and didn't seem to miss her... and we are starting our family together)."

Sounds to me like she still wants some contact, though with her new life/activities, maybe she is having trouble fitting it in. I would tell her that she NEEDS to make a commitment to seeing him if that's what she wants.

"Then last Sunday after a family fun day, he says out of the blue "when do I get to see her again" Â..and IÂm not going to lie and say it doesnÂt hurtÂ"

and this tells me the son still wants to know she cares.. and if she called the month before, she seems to care at least that much. and I don't think it's fair to the child to cut off someone because it 'hurts' SM... as long as it's not hurting the child or disruptive to the family, an occasional visit or contact would not hurt anything. She may eventually fade off, but at least it's in the course of things and not SM cutting it off because SHE feels hurt by the relationship existing.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 3:13PM
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If this woman were a dear family friend or beloved former babysitter or teacherinstead of a parent's Ex, how would you handle it?

I guess I would neither try to encourage or discourage the relationship, but if the child asks, explain that while the 'official relationship' has ended, the love and special feelings the adult and child have for each other are still there and that it's nice to be able to see them again.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 3:33PM
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Thanks everyone for your have given me a lot of things to think about...and to have in the back of my head when dealing with the situation!

To clarify more on the last couple of attempted visits...she wants the visitations to be all 3 of them, (ex-sm, ss, and dh) when dh said he wasn't going to be involved in their visits together, she didn't show, and he didnÂt hear from her for quite some time. then last month she asked to see him...and the date was set for it, until she said that she would 'hang out' at dh's work visiting with ss....and it was then that dh said 'this is just not a good thing to continue' (at that point he hadn't talked about her....and so we assumed that he was ok not seeing her) until last weekend....

I guess dh is trying more to protect him from someone who seems to have alternative motives and doesn't show that much interest in ss. (I donÂt know full story from her side ...this is what I've gotten from what dh has said)
but I do believe if she showed good faith....dh would have no problems with her seeing him.

and I guess my hurt feelings were more because we had a good 'family fun day' we were all in good moods....I felt like we all connected a bit more.....and then my little bubble kind of got popped that she got brought up.

I do believe it's about the child...not my own feelings....but I do worry about his feelings if she's not going to be a solid fixture.

I guess we have to let her fall on her face on her own...then it's him learning vs us saying she can no longer see him....

Dh just wondered what he should say to him (if anything)Â..

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 5:50PM
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it sounds that SM might be more interested in your DH than in her former sad for a child...

several years after our divorce my ex met a woman and lived with her for 10 years and had a son, they never married but still lived a as family, she was OK SM, she wasn't very involved but she was not nasty to DD, DD was very upset with this development 2 years ago.

DD is grown and doesn't need arranged visitations, she sees former SM on occasion at activities involving her brother. But her exSM never ever initiated any contact with DD, all contacts between them were initiated by DD, her grandmother and her dad, SM never ever called DD or emailed or did anything to express any interest in her. I find it somewhat upsetting. I only knew SO's DDs for few years yet i have great interest in them and their DD's former SM knew her since she was 10 till age 20! like a life time and nothing coming from her...

On the other hand exSM is known in a community for causing troubles, she is banned from her son's already 2nd school due to causing troubles like attacking teachers and causing other embarrassing situations, she is known for other job related issues etc, so maybe that explains her lack of interest in DD (her overall tendencies for antisocial behavior). But DD always liked her and always got along and i was always supportive of that...

so not every SM has interest in maintaining anything, out of sight you know...sad though..

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 7:54PM
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Absolutely would have changed my opinion if you had included that she wanted to involve your DH in the 'visits'. That is definitely disruptive to your life/family and doesn't even vaguely appear to be about the child... how sad for the child to want his exSM to care, but if she only wants to use him to get to his dad... UGH!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 8:18PM
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I would have been more specific...but didn't want my post to be toooo long .... believe me I could go on and on and on....but didn't want to turn it into a bashing the ex post.... trying to concentrate on 'what should dh say to ss'

dh had a talk w/ss last night.....I'm not sure exactly what was said...but it was quiet and somber in our home :( ss was visibly upset.... dh was too... knowing his son was I didn't ask to many questions. (yet) :) wait for him to be ready to talk I guess... sigh... it is sad all around.... because in the back of your's hard to fathom using a child to get to an you give her the benefit of the doubt.... but so far she's only proven herself to be worthless which is why dh is finally at the point he thinks it's better for ss to break ties now vs letting it go on....

Where's my crystal ball when I need it?!!! ;)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 11:10AM
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From FD - "it sounds that SM might be more interested in your DH than in her former sad for a child...

I think this is actually former SM, but no matter. I think this is one big concern of many moms, that children may not understand that the SM/child relationship is generally dependent on marriage, and that the divorce rate for second marriages is high.

To compare with family friends, former babysitters is not quite the same thing, imho. Those people, if they do stay in touch, are not likely to disapper in event of divorce.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 1:32PM
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