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How is old enough?

Posted by mom2emall (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 18, 08 at 9:31

I have heard many people on here talk about telling kids the truth. So how old is old enough to discuss the truth with them? Is it ever appropriate for me to add my two cents in and agree with my sd's when they are complaining over a lie from bm?

Can I say "your right, there are phones everywhere now a days and bm was just making excuses for not calling you"?

Can I say "I also think it is wrong that bm did not show up to get you or even call to tell you she was not planning on coming"?

Can I say "yes it is ridiculous that bm lives 10 minutes from us and refuses to take you or even show up to watch your games"?

Or do I always have to sit back and listen to their complaints, but keep from validating them?

Sometimes I wish that I could point out to the younger two when bm was lying, instead of watching them eat up the lies and hang on bm's every word like it was the absolute truth.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How is old enough?

"Or do I always have to sit back and listen to their complaints, but keep from validating them?"

Much as you don't want to hear this, I think that is really what you need to do. You definitely should not support BM's lies but I think letting the SKs vent and just listening to their feelings is the best thing you can do. Validate THEIR feelings by listening to them without offering advice or opinion.

I say this because my parents are divorced and have a great deal of animosity towards one another. They have been divorced ten years (since I was 18) and I still bristle if one of them says something negative about the other--even if it's something I know to be true, or something I might complain about myself.

I know this is not really a fair comparison but it's the closest I could think of.

I can just see your stepkids feeling like they have a right to complain about their BM--but the second YOU say something negative about her or even just AGREE with them that she has issues, they might suddenly become defensive of her---simply because she's mom.


RE: How is old enough?

Hi.I agree with lovehadley.I personally wouldnt say anything because 9 times out of ten,the kid already knows their parent is crappy.Pointing it out to them will probably just make them feel worse.I mean,who really wants to hear out loud what is or isnt being done FOR THEM? Makes the kid feel like a burden.
I'm sure this will go over well here judging by some of the threads I have read,but if anything like that WAS to be said at all,I'd leave that up to the BIO parent.

RE: How is old enough?

When the kids are complaining about their mom, instead of jumping in and agreeing on mom being a jerk, what you could do...

When one of them says, Mom didnt show up and call, you can ask them, how does that make you feel? and talk about the feelings.

I think its important for you to affirm how the girls are feeling, without direct open criticism of mom. They see for themselves how mom makes them feel, and how you make them feel. I think its important to let them have permission to talk about their feelings, and to feel free to discuss this, without them hearing their mom directly attacked by you. Let them do the attacking, and focus on how they feel.

Not easy, I know.

RE: How is old enough?

Yeah -- If you agree that BioMom is crappy, then the kids will have to about-face and will try to convince themselves that she's not. Human nature...

Kathline's suggestion about acknowledging their feelings is probably what I'd do. "Yeah, that was disappointing that she didn't make it." Or "It would have been considerate for her to call if she had to cancel." That way, you can at least show what decent behavior is (and is not) so the kids don't grow up thinking it's OK to treat people like this.

RE: How is old enough?

I agree with Sweeby, just yesterday.. I slipped up. I was talking to SD about what she thinks her mom would say about her grades and she said her mom doesn't care. Without thinking of how it would sound to SD, I said.. I'm sorry your mom doesn't care. and right away, she started defending her mom that her mom does care. I also have to be careful of how it's worded. (Of course my SD isn't complaining much about her mom yet, she still holds onto any ray of hope)

The reality is that BM told SD this weekend that she can't come to the parent-teacher conferences this week. Yesterday, I went to our conference & the teacher said she is capable but spends too much time talking & getting up during class, so she isn't paying attention.

DH thinks she is failing on purpose because she thinks she will have to go live with mom if she fails. DH ended up telling her that if she fails, she won't be spending the summer with her mom, she will be here going to summer school. She smiled & shook her head... didn't even take him seriously at all.

RE: How is old enough?

I agree with Sweeby and Imamommy on this one. With my own DS, it's really up to me what I say. But with FSD, if she says anything about anyone, I let FDH handle it. She used to talk to me about her SF and all I would say is "I can see how you would feel that way". And since they are your SC, I would try to stay out of speaking your feelings as much as possible. The older one will inform the younger ones of the lies. You won't have to. And if DH wants them to know something, iti's really up to khim to tell them.

Keep your head up! You're a great SM with a ton of compassion and a very smart older SD! You've got a lot of good things on your side. You can't protect the kids that are being attacked by the very person that is supposed to be their protector. It's like who is supposed to protect the good people when even the cops are bad? Who is supposed to protect the children when it's the parents doing the damage?

RE: How is old enough?

What I have found w/my stepkids is they really don't want to know what I think about their mom. Not do they necessarily want a response/reply. They sometimes just need to vent.

My standard replies:
1. I'm sorry you're feeling sad (or angry, frustrated, etc.).

2. I'm sorry this is so hard for you. (in response to SD crying at the airport EVERY time she had to leave to go back to mom's after a visit)

Usually, just acknowleging their feelings has been enough. They know you care and love them. Mom doesn't need anyone to help her look bad...she's doing a splendid job of that all on her own. It took a while, but my SKs figured it out...all on their own. And, while it's sad that kids have to figure that out, it's better they come to their own conclusions, as opposed to you "filling their heads".

RE: How is old enough?

I agree that a simple statement to explain proper behavior - "Yes, it is nice to call and let people know when your plans change" - is appropriate, but the truth is likely not. I SO know how hard it is though, and there have been times I've slipped like Ima did. Your older Sd pretty much already gets it though, and the younger ones will soon enough. Validate their feelings, let them know they are appropriate and understood, and be an ear. Then, when they walk away, bury your head in a pillow and scream.

RE: How is old enough?

I don't think you need to directly attack their biomom, I can understand wanting to cut to the chase but it wouldn't be the best thing to do. I think it is important to talk about their feelings and in doing so you can talk about the truth without calling their mom out on the carpet.

How do you feel since your mom said she was going to come and pick you up but didn't? ....child tells you that their feelings are hurt or that they are mad....then you say ...This is why it is so important for a person to do what they say they are going to do. It hurts people's feelings if you don't keep your word.

I don't know why your mom doesn't call you. She must not be thinking about how it makes you feel or else she would call.

I don't know why your mom doesn't come to see your games. She must not understand what she is missing or she would be here. She must not understand how it makes you feel to have her not come to these things.

I would let them know when bm makes plans for something whether it is a phone call or a visit that it may not happen....."You know she may not call.....You know she may not come to pick you up. If she does thats great, if she doesn't I have some errands to do and then we can do them together." Something like that.

RE: How is old enough?

I totally understand how you feel. There have been so m any times when I just wanted to blurt out the awful facts about the girls biomom to them. I think they are dissapointed with her but she is (unfortunatly) their mother and they love I bite my tongue. I bite back even when they say things like "Well my mama let's me bring toys to school." I know this is just a default statement because their mother has never taken them to school and I want to point that out but it would only hurt them.

Now if they ask either J or I a direct question like say for instance "Is mommy on bad medecine?" then we will not lie. We will be honest and say yes. When they ask why we tell them it's a little too complicated for them to understand but we will explain when they are older. Then it's pretty much dropped. We answered without lying and at the same time we didn't go into alot of detail.

Validating feelings I is more important than spilling all the beans. Deep down the girls and probably your step kids as well KNOW their mothers have issues. They just want to be reassured their feelings are valid and that SOMEBODY is noticing that they are hurting because of the paretns actions.

RE: How is old enough?

"I don't know why your mom doesn't call you. She must not be thinking about how it makes you feel or else she would call.

I don't know why your mom doesn't come to see your games. She must not understand what she is missing or she would be here. She must not understand how it makes you feel to have her not come to these things."

I think these are really good answers. They validate the kids' feelings without saying anything really negative about the BP.

My DD only saw her dad once, when she was 6 months old. Obviously, she does not remember him at all.

She has asked me a couple times over the last few years why her dad doesn't want her. (BREAKS my heart. :( )

I spoke with a counselor about it and he gave me some good words to use, which I did the next time she said something.

I just told her that her dad doesn't KNOW her, and that if he did know her, he would want to be with her.

Pretty simple and straightforward and she has not brought it up again.

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