When Stepfamily Life Gets Messy…

Do you have triggers that send your emotions over the edge quicker than you want to admit? Unfortunately, I do and one of them is the emotional struggle with my ex-husband.

I’ve had a difficult week as a result of  his out-of-town visit with my daughters. The girls get caught in the middle between trying to do the right thing but honoring their embittered feelings toward him due to the unstable history of their relationship.

As a parent, I still feel responsible for helping them make wise choices when they call for advice, as my 18-year-old did the night her dad arrived. I was not malicious, but honest, when I explained to her that she needed to take care of herself and not get caught in an unhealthy situation, despite the poor choice her dad was making. Unfortunately, because of a history of addiction, drama and misshappenings surround him, but I have always sought to keep the girls from being entangled in it.

And the situation becomes more complicated now that we live four hours away and I can’t rescue the girls from their dad’s inappropriate behavior. But I can still coach them through sticky circumstances, teaching them how to protect themselves from others’ bad choices.

I wish it didn’t have to be this way. But it is. Life is messy. But I refuse to give in. My children may have unhealthy influences in their lives, but my current husband and I can continue to offer stable influences that overshadow others. Healthy role models are hard to ignore and will have a positive influence in the long run.

I have spent years teaching my daughters, 18 and 21 years old, the dangers of addiction and the consequences to bad choices. They are now seeing painful consequences played out in a defeated life. But I rest on the hope that my words and behavior have not been wasted and am thankful to watch healthy lifestyle choices played out as my daughters navigate their young adult years.

In what area is your stepfamily life messy? Will you make a commitment to sort through  the messiness? If so,will you please share about it?

Related Posts:

It’s Always Too Early to Quit

Dear Stepparent: Never Underestimate Your Value With Your Stepchild

Coping with Stepfamily Drama



5 Responses to “When Stepfamily Life Gets Messy…”

  1. 1 Sue January 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I think it's wonderful that your daughters still call you for advice. What a tribute to you. You are obviously someone they trust–someone they can count on and whose opinion they respect.My husband's ex-wife is manipulative and a pathological liar, and it is often difficult to know whether the kids see her true colors. They don't ask their dad for advice about anything dealing with her anymore, and he doesn't offer any for fear of alienating them or putting them in the middle.The situation is a source of pain and frustration in our lives, but my husband and I are trying stop to agonizing over it and "let go and let God."

  2. 2 Step Parenting with Grace January 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Sue, That's exactly what I've learned to do: let go and let God. It's not always easy and somedays I do it better than others, but it's obviously the answer. Thank you for your kind words. Hope all is well with you and your family.

  3. 3 Sharon August 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    My ex and I get along well, but my husbands ex has a long history of maliciously trying to alienate the kids from him and me too. She has told the kids and all sorts of people lies and exaggerations about him mainly, but me too occasionally. We did our best to not bash her in the process of correcting the lies with the kids but for years since age 6 my step daughter has taken on her mom’s lying behavior and now at 10 has herself begun malicious and deceitful behavior that’s just putting a real strain on family life. We know it’s not right to give in to the alienation but we also just don’t know how to have a child living 50% of the time with us when every word we say gets twisted, when she steals my phone and reads my texts, and slanders us so regularly. What do we do now?!

    • 4 Step Parenting with Grace August 14, 2012 at 1:40 am

      Sharon, You’re in a tough situation. I suggest you and your husband seek professional counseling and bring the stepdaughter in as the counselor suggests. Your stepdaughter is learning manipulative behavior that will escalate if you don’t get a handle on it. There needs to be consequences for the malicious behavior – stealing your phone, invading your privacy, etc and a counselor can walk you through the best actions to take to let your stepdaughter know you are in control. If you wait until she reaches her teen-age years, it will only get worse. I will be praying for you and your family. I hope you will seek help. Keep me posted. Gayla

      • 5 Sharon August 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm

        Thank you! That’s sort of what I’ve been thinking as well, but we’ve never found a good counselor in the past. One counselor actually told my step daughter its ok to lie if she thinks its necessary. Obviously my husband interrupted immediately and reminded her its never ok to lie. We’ve shown her in the Scriptures and whenever opportunity arises to use other people who are lying as an example we do, to show the foolishness. We need a counselor. I know. We just haven’t found one yet with any values we can respect.

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