Return to the Stepfamily Forum | Post a Follow-Up

will the real mom please stand up!

Posted by CWH123 (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 11, 14 at 4:15

I'm all confused. My kids bio-mom abandoned us with no explanation when my daughter was 5, and my son 1. As it turned out, she ran off with another man she fell in love with on the internet. Six months later she came back to town, tail tucked, and wanted a relationship with "her" children. I had filed for divorce and gotten full custody of the kids, which she didn't contest. Since I felt it was important that they know their biological mother, and have a relationship with her when it was possible, I began to allow limited visitations after about a year when I felt she was stable.
I remarried after two years, and my wife took over the role as mother to my two small kids. They have always called her by her first name. Over the years we have established a regular visitation with bio-mom, and they continue to call her "mommy."
My feeling is that she is getting that title, and the respect that comes with it, and my wife (the person who is a real mother to them) is being slighted. And bio-mom seems to revel in being "mommy" the twice a month she sees them.
So how do I help the kids understand where their "mom" respect should really lie? Should I make them start calling their step-mom "mom?" Should I make them start calling bio-mom by her first name too?? I'm confused. My wife is, for all practical purposes, their mother. My son (8) doesn't even remember a time when she wasn't, and my daughter (12) barely does. I know she feels kinda like the "hired help" sometimes, and it just isn't fair. She's a good mom. Help!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

What does your wife want?

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

Upon whom are you going to bestow these children when you get angry at your new wife or when she can't live with a vindictive, bitter, angry man any longer & looks for love somewhere else?

Your ex *is* their mother, always has been, always will be.

Of course she loves being 'mommy' twice a month;
that's how often you *allow* her to be these children's mommy!

You've kept her away from her children, you've made her 'prove' to you that she's 'stable', even though her crime was rejecting you (which doesn't indicate instability, it happens all the time), & even now you want to give her children to another woman.

Eventually you'll run out of punishments, but your rage will still be there;
please get some kind of help & support to get rid of this poison before it ruins your life & your kids' lives.

Life is short;
Relish it, enjoy it, give your children a father they can love without fear & uncertainty.

I wish you all the best.

RE: will the real mom please stand up!


I think you were a little harsh on the OP. I agree making biomom wait an entire year before seeing her kids again was harsh, but biomom DID leave her kids to run off with some other man and didn’t come back for her kids until six months later. Maybe biodad’s reaction was a little overboard, but the mom did kind of bring it on herself.

OP, a name is just a name. You should not make your kids call their bio-mom by her first name, or make them call your wife mom. You don’t have to call someone mom for them to be a mother to you. If your kids want to call their stepmom mom, let them come to that conclusion for themselves. Forcing things will only cause resentment.

Now, I would caution you against the desire to have your wife step in and "replace" the kid’s mother. Not saying that’s what you’re doing, just be careful that your wife does not feel taken advantage of or that you push biomom entirely out of the picture. Even though biomom has made some mistakes in the past, don’t think that the answer is to push her out of the picture entirely.

Let your children come to their own conclusions about their mother without you bad mouthing her. I’m not saying you’re doing that, but the temptation is there to let your kids “know the truth” about their mother. I’m sure you know talking negatively about their mother is not healthy.

And if you don’t want your wife to feel like the "hired help", having the kids call her mom isn't the answer. What you need to do is always let your wife know how much you appreciate everything she does for your kids. She may say she doesn’t mind, but after time she may grow resentful of everything she has to do for kids that “aren’t hers.”

Step parenting is a thankless job, make sure she knows she is appreciated, make sure the lion’s share of parenting does not fall on her shoulders, and be sure to be an active parent yourself.

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

Thanks for the critique, Amber, but I meant exactly what I said.

You might re-read the original post;
this man is filled with vindictiveness & anger.

People are pretty consistent, & behavior reflects personality & character;
a person who behaves in a hateful, vengeful, obsessive way to one person generally treats anyone who crosses him the same way, & it's because rage & entitlement ("How DARE she?*) *are* their personality.

I couldn't find even a hint that he's as concerned with the effects on the children or the effects on the new wife, heaven help her, as he is with destroying his ex.

A husband's obsessive, punishing personality might go some distance toward understanding why his first wife, a mother of three, was vulnerable to the temptation of somebody she met online.

& what was his vindictiveness & rage doing to those children, when their mother was in the household, when she left, during the time he was refusing to let her see the children, & even now?

I'd bet that they've heard & seen a lot of demands, resentment, threats, yelling, & frightening facial expressions from their father, & that they still see it on a lot of days.

Those children know that what he's dished out to their mother is exactly what they'll get if they disappoint him or cross him.

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

If I were in that situation I would just leave it the way it is. I think in the long run they will know who loves and cares for them. Don't make waves.

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

I think the fact that you are so aware of your wifes feelings, the fact that she may be hurt speaks very well of you and bodes well for your marriage...Keep showing her that respect and your children will follow your example.The kids shouldn't be told, certainly not forced to call her mom, that may come on its own in time.They will recognize part time real mom abandoned them and didn't fight to get them returned, eventually..Sounds to me like you re on the right track..Did you use the wrong term tho, when you said you allowed visitation? Only the court determines that..The fact that you didn't fight against visitation shows your lack of bitterness.. You and the kids should just reinforce how much you do appreciate wife and her efforts, and I feel it will all work out...

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

Thanks for all the insight.

first, my wife wants only what is best for the kids. If that means quietly accepting what may not be entirely fair, then that's what she will do. I was only trying to come up with ideas to help her feel as important as we know she is to our family.

Secondly, it is true that I will never believe in or trust bio-mom completely. After a week of her absence she finally called and told me where she was, what was happening, and what had been going on with her since before we were even married. A week in which I had been telling my 5 year old little girl that mommy was on a "trip" and I didn't know when she would be home. I will never forget when, while cradling my infant son in my arms, I had to tell that beautiful little girl that mommy was not coming back.

Even still, I forgave her long ago. And yes I gave her that forgiveness personally, verbally, and sincerely. I don't like her. I will never really trust her. But I don't hate or resent her either. Life is indeed too short for such.

And I did specifically ask for visitation, at my discretion, be included in the divorce papers. This against the advice of counsel who advised "You don't have to giver her anything." I did, and still do, believe that my children have a right to know their mother and decide on how their relationship will develop. I chose to control when and how that visitation occurred because of what I learned of her lifestyle and activities outside of our home during our marriage (from her directly).

The welfare of the kids was, and always will be my first concern. She was not well. She had been, for lack of a better way of saying it, leading a "double life" for a very long time. It's a long story, but it was imperative that her state of mind be considered in this situation. She has come a long way through a lot of counseling, but monitoring the situation is still prudent.

I sought extensive counseling, both personal and family, immediately, and was advised every step of the way from the time she left t to the first supervised visitation. I have never spoken ill of her. I have shared nothing of the circumstances of our separation with the kids. First of all they don't need that information, and second it will be their her place to share it if she chooses, or when they ask. I don't resent their relationship with their mother. I wouldn't allow it if I did. Just the opposite in fact. I often make concessions to assure that the children have ample time with her. It is her that often doesn't have time for them. It saddens my heart to see her expressing little interest in them as they clamor for her love. If I have any anger, it comes from hurting for them.

And finally, understand that I work every day to show in every way how much my wife is appreciated, and I am always sure to point out and illustrate just how much she loves and cares for our family. She loves them and they love her.

Our home is a happy, functional, and honest one. I strive to do everything I can to ensure the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health of everyone in it. And I think it hurts my wife a little sometimes to feel like second place. And that hurts me.

Dotz, I think you're right. I have learned that consistency is the one thing that children truly crave and respond to. We will keep doing what we're doing with the faith that our love, commitment, and honesty will prove what is real, true and right. It's working so far.

And Sylvia, If I am, or ever become what you perceive me to be, I hope one of my children's mothers will have the good sense to kick me out. :-)

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

Sylvia - I did read the OP's post and I fail to see any “rage” or "obsessiveness" anywhere in it. Yes, there are always two sides to every story, and we’re only getting one, but a woman that is willing to leave her children behind and not try to see them for six months speaks volumes to me. My exH abused me but not even for a second did I consider leaving my children with him. The thought never even crossed my mind. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this point.

OP, just keep expressing to your wife how much you appreciate what she does and make sure your kids respect and thank her for everything she does. For example, when she cooks dinner, be sure the kids say thank you, when she drops them off at school, be sure you tell her thanks, etc. Be sure the kids pick up after themselves and that they help out around the house. Include your wife in the decision making process, does she think your daughter needs tutoring or does your son need to see a therapist for that stutter . . . you get the point. Don't let your kids dictate what goes on in the house. You and your wife decide where you're going on family vacation, you and your wife decide what you're going to do on the weekend.

Your wife will only feel like second place if you don’t put her first. Many times people will say “my kids come first.” That is true, when it comes to their NEEDS. A child’s needs always come first, but their WANTS should not come first.

Also, have you told your wife that you worry she may feel like second place? If you talk to her about it, she can tell you if she feels that way or not. It may be she doesn’t even feel like that. Or if she does, she can tell you what you can do so she doesn’t feel that way. Communication is the key.

My BF does something that I really like, I call it "relationship monitoring". He will ask me Is everything okay? Am I happy? Most of the time the answer is yes, but sometimes it's not and that's when we talk about whatever's troubling me. I think him doing that helps catch and resolve problems before they grow completely out of control.

Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders, and despite the hurt your first wife has caused you have determined to move on with your life. Good for you. You will make mistakes on the way, but if you continue to talk to your wife I think ya'll will be able to work through things.

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

C, Your wife sounds like a keeper, sigh if only more stepfamilies could operate this way..."Our home is a happy, functional, honest one" Great job, I don't think you need advice, sound s like you have it all covered...Congrats!!!

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

I'm the product of a bio mother who ran off...left three children behind, ages 6, 8, 9.
My "other mother" (real to us) stepped in to not only parent, but to love each one as if we were the best thing to have happened in her life. Our younger half sister was never favored and in fact I cringe a bit to write the word "half".

Our father had one particular iron rule: Never (and he meant) NEVER were we to disrespect nor sass our other mother.

I do remember collectively deciding to call her Mom instead of her first name unprompted by our father. I think we were being naughty one day, knowing that when my dad got home we would catch heck. Mom didn't tell and I know for a fact we knew she had our back from that day forward.
My bio mom was rarely in our lives, yet resented and forbade us to call our step mom (cringe at that word) "mom" in front of her and let us know in no uncertain terms who our mother was! Of course one of us would slip and get scolded, which was just so wrong of her on so many levels.

Please CWH, just know that we kids knew who was who and what was what.
Our bio mom didn't fool us us for a minute who mothered us. Yours know too.
All these years later, me in my 60's now, my other mother IS my real mother.
Our bio mother loved us I'm sure, she just wasn't the person who cared for us.
And if push came to shove, my other mother gets my loyalty. Hands down.

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

Thank you so much deborah. You are so spot on. I know in my heart that they know who their mom is (both moms), and you just helped me see it through the eyes of one who's been there. Bless you.

This has helped me so much. Thanks to all of you who responded here. I feel validated in what we are already doing at home, and that's what I really needed. I need to be sure I don't miss anything that I should (or should not!) be doing for my wife, my kids, and the kids bio-mom.

On a really happy note, we just made an offer and were accepted on a new house. My wife and I have dreamed of a home in the country, and we finally found the perfect one! All four of us love it, and we can't wait to start this fantastic new journey for our family. :-)

I just don't have anything more to say. Thanks again to all of you! And if you ever need a dad's point of view, don't hesitate to ask!

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

Deborah, great post and I agree with you. The kids know who their "real" mother is.

Congrats on the new home, CWH. Feel free to visit here, it's always nice to have a dad's point of view.

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

I may be reading more into this as well but, we all make mistakes. There may be more to the story then CWH123 is saying. Is there a reason he is concerned that his wife feels slighted? Have you given her the impressions that she is your children's mother? Whether you like what she has done or not bio mom is mom. We all make mistakes and I think your children's mom knows she made a big one. If your son was so young could it be that she was suffering from postpartum depression? You elude to a double life but not to the possibility that the children may not be biologically yours. Are you angry with her about the time she spends with your children when in fact you admit you are the one controlling it?
Many children in the past spent every other weekend with dad. That was just the way it was done. That did not make him a bad dad or that he loved them less.
You can not make a fantasy life and pretend your ex wife does not exist. I think the person that may have to look in the mirror may be you.

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

This situation seems mostly resolved, but after reading the replies, I cannot leave without adding something:

Sylvia: You are completely and entirely out of line. As a counselor, I recommend counseling for you. Your name-slinging and accusations fall way out of the spectrum of rational, and you somehow misinterpreted this father's best intent for all involved as some type of delusion of grandeur. Any type of hesitation towards giving the biological mother time with the children were a result of a very parental instinct to protect his children, and also a very human tendency to self-protect.

To all: Yes, a year was a bit long, but honestly, I've seen situations where parents have gone off, then came back wanting to see their children, then ran off again, doing double-damage to their children, or even sticking around but still being so unstable that they did lasting damage. I am not saying the original poster has done everything correctly, but I am posing one question, and it's because I've seen this double standard as a glaring example of something we can benefit to look at closely- If the father had run off with another woman and then come back, wanting to see his children, and the court already allowed full custody to the mother, how many of us would be in support of the father's rights to see his children? In my experience, not very many.

Our system is out-of-date and sexist. It sounds like this man has a nice wife, a nice life, and is trying to do what is best by the children. If some professional counseling was involved to see the entire dynamic, and they were deemed healthy, I'd give this father a thumbs-up.

As far as the question goes about why his current wife would feel slighted, I get why he would ask that, and the readers not need be suspicious regarding his intent. It was because he stated his children call their stepmother by their name, and their biological mother "mommy". That should entirely be the choice of the children. Regardless of whether or not she's a lousy mother, she's still the mother. However, if you're not sure if it's an issue of comfort, you could always pull the kids aside and tell them NO PRESSURE, but they are 'welcome' to call their stepmother "mom". Sometimes the kids just don't know. If you don't feel comfortable doing that, you can likely rest easy knowing that your wife is happy being the stepmom and knowing she's with them the majority of the time, and regardless of title, she gets to be the mom more times than not. That is surely reward enough.

RE: will the real mom please stand up!

Kleigh, if you really were a counsellor, you wouldn't be diagnosing me based on what I've posted on an internet forum.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Stepfamily Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here