Parents often do not realize what a step-parent’s role is and cast them into other unwanted ones.
Two step-parents resented their assigned positions of negotiator and grief counsellor.
Some step-parents said that they are a family friend to the children and not a go-between for the parents.
Trevor married a woman with children, who had gone through a contentious divorce.
Dealing with her ex was challenging and she admitted to being impatient and losing her cool. Her mild-mannered second husband was drafted to be the intermediary between these two warring parents. Trevor was the unofficial negotiator trying to find a middle ground for co-parenting.
When I saw him, Trevor was suffering from low back pain as a result of this stressful circumstance. He had heard that emotional issues could also affect the back, with not feeling supported correlating with low back pain. Using that as a wakeup call, we devised strategies on how Trevor would inform his wife and her ex that he was vacating the position of negotiator. His role was husband – to be supportive of his wife and to enjoy his step-kids without managing their co-parents.
Trevor convinced the former couple to work with a mediator and this was an effective solution to an unhappy situation.
No matter how well your new spouse gets along with your former one – allow them to be friends and not enlist your new partner as a messenger.
Find a professional for the negotiator role.
Angus and Katharine, both divorced, met at a conference and the attraction was powerful.
They got married and both had children who did well in this blended family, although only Katharine’s daughter Kim lived with them.
Katharine tried to be on good terms with her ex and he was invited over on holidays and family events. Angus and Edward became good friends and had similar interests. Kim would say how lucky she was to have two such great dads. Later when Kim turned twenty-three, she was killed in an auto accident. Understandably, Katharine and Edward had breakdowns and kept thanking Angus for his support and called him a rock.
Angus was crying when he asked me why they do not get that he had a ball of hurt inside and is grieving too. We discussed having Angus explain his grief to the parents and suggest that they meet with a grief counsellor since he could not continue this role.
Parents, please understand that a step-parent loves a child and is broken up by her catastrophic illness or death. They have to deal with their own grief and cannot be forced to take on other people’s as well.
Step-parents are great for lowering tension when an angry teen is annoyed at both parents.
At times mine seemed like aliens and my step-mum shared stories from her youth. Seems like her mum and dad did crazy things like mine did.
A step-parent is a loving, but more neutral party for receiving confidences. Step-parents may love their new children with an intensity that surprises even them.
In several cases both dads walked the young women down the aisle in their marriage ceremonies. If things are spiralling out of control, a life or divorce coach can help people get their lives back on track.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).
Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.
She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is globalguidetodivorce.com.