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How to handle the BM with kindness?

Posted by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:30 AM
  • 12 Replies

Hi!  I'm a mom of four and a stepmom of two (one of them is grown).  We have just moved in together, and that is going well.  BF has full custody of SD, fifteen, for the moment; BM has some significant mental health/addiction issues and most recently assaulted BF in front of SD so has no contact with either at the moment.   I am working really hard to put aside my own feelings about BM and trying to act as a peacemaker with her and SD, at least as much as is possible.  BM hates me - but I don't take that personally since right now her head is just very messed up in general.  Because of my profession (which I don't want to disclose here due to security issues) I am very well versed in custody issues, addictions, and the importance of keeping kids the priority, so for me it's important to foster as much of a healthy bond between BM and SD as I can in my role. 

BF is a good guy, but he's a guy and so women's relationships are confusing to him at best; he also has his own set of emotions involved here especially after the assault.  It's very challenging to be supportive of him, which of course I am, and yet try to help SD find it in her heart to have ANY relationship with BM.  If SD had her way, she would just cut mom out totally and "pretend" that the life she has now is her whole family, meaning she would latch onto me and my kids and our household as if it were her only family.  I love her dearly and can see how this would be tempting, but BM is mom and while she is quite challenging, it's really important to try to get some healthy boundaries in place there and pursue something normal with her if possible.

Now, I should add, BM continues to shoot herself in the foot at the moment.  Recently she got SD "fired" by SD's therapist (long story); she continues to call drunk/crying and leave long, sad messages telling SD that SD is making her crazy because SD won't see her; she is not to my knowledge seeking help for her addictions (booze and pills).  It's quite sad, really.  But still I know that for SD to be healthy she and BM will need to work past SD current refusal to see BM or deal with her at all, and find some way, with healthy boundaries and lots of support, to have a relationship that is good for both of them.  I would very much like to NOT hinder that process just by existing.

Any advice along these lines would be great.  BF has a strong commitment to SD and a strong (although now weakening a bit) desire to see SD and her mom in a healthy relationship.  I support that and just want to be helpful to the process.

by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:30 AM
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by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:41 AM

People with addictions can be very hurtful and that is a rollercoaster or a relationship that, IMO, a 15 year old doesn't need to deal with given all the other issues of being a teen and a new family moving in with hers.  I think the best way to deal with it, and probably the way most recovery centers would suggest, is to not push SD to have a relationship with BM but let that be 100% her decision.  Maybe in time, encourage her to write BM saying she loves her because she is her mother but as long as she is using she cannot have her in her life as it causes too much pain..........also letting her know that if/when she chooses to get clean and go to a recovery program, she would possibly start a relationship with her again.

by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:44 AM
I like your wording. My situation is very similar, down to the unhealthy BM. There are times when it is hard to se her as just 'not well', especially when her selfishness and lifestyle is having a negative impact on the skids. My skids are much younger than yours. That gives me' hope that she may still turn her life around? Inspire of it all I still encourage them to have a relationship with BM. We are trying to set boundaries. Most recently BM is telling SS that BF won't let her and her family visit. The rules are 2weeks notice and the visit must be with all of the skids(not just SS9). They have only been denied visitation twice... Once when we gave them over a months notice that we would be out of town(they called while we were gone?!) and once this past fathers day (we had plans of course?!?!). Other than that they have only asked to visit once and they did... I guess from BMs skewed perspective I could see why she thinks 'your father won't let me' visit!' I still encourage the skids and get them all excited when she calls, remind them to say happy mothers day (all 3 times she called that day), and I even have them do art projects to send her. I really hope that she can someday put aside her hate and selfishness and just love her children.
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by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 12:00 PM

I guess I don't see why you would force/want SD to have a relationship with her unstable mother? BM is acting very hurtful (in many ways) to SD, and it's only making it harder/worse on her. Let SD lead on this one. If she wants to cut BM out, let her. She is ultimately the one that is going to be affected by it, not you. Eventually BM may sober up and realize what she did. Then it will be up to SD to decide if she wants to have a relationship with her or not.

by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 12:28 PM

I suppose I should have added that the court will impose the relationship/parenting time either way, and I would like to help SD deal with that in a positive way.

by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 1:18 PM

 That's fine. Let the courts force her. She can be angry at them. I think that if you or you DH are trying to force her, it will only lead to resentment issues down the line. It sounds to me like she has finally found a stable family that each child desperately wants/deserves. Support her in her decision, while making sure to not say anything bad about BM. Let her decide to go back to her Mother, when and if she is ready, or when the courts tell her she doesn't have an option.

Quoting fourandhoping:

I suppose I should have added that the court will impose the relationship/parenting time either way, and I would like to help SD deal with that in a positive way.

by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Apart from giving your SD information on what mental illnesses/addictions can do to a person, I can't really see what you can do to foster a relationship between them, especially not a "healthy" one.

Give her means to cope with BM's issues .. don't take them away from her by forcing contact. The boundary SD might need with her BM is "if you are not nice I'm not going to play". I know of two cases where this encouraged the BMs to tackle their addiction issues.

by Skeletor on Aug. 17, 2011 at 7:34 PM
This is such a difficult position to be in; you know the OP is not healthy and due to their personal challenges are incapable (at this point in time) of actually having a positive and healthy relationship with their child. And yet, morally, it is right to encourage and support ANY type of relationship. I encourage you, your DH, and your SD to attend Al-Anon and Al-Ateen respectively. This will assist you in finding a good path; it will also give SD a peer group who know exactly how she feels and what she is dealing with. You will also gain tools that you can use in interacting with BM. Good luck ~ xh is active in his addiction and its definitely NOT easy. *hugs*
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by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:06 PM
I've been in your SD's shoes only I was also abused along with my mom. Don't force or coax her to have a relationship with her mom as right now BM is toxic and unhealthy. Sometimes cutting someone out is the healthy thing to do. Give her time and her own space. You cannot force someone to heal it must be done on it's own. This is my opinion since I have been there.
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by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:21 PM

Speaking as a child who had a BM with mental health/addiction problems, let your SD choose.  Do not force her to be in the company of someone she doesn't trust, someone who probably doesn't deserve any trust right now.  This isn't about BM.  This is about SD being able to understand some of this, and wanting to get far from the hurt.  Maybe she'll learn to cope with it better in the future and want to rebuild a relationship with BM.  But that's her choice, as I see her as the victim here. 

Speaking as a CSM with a SS who's mom is an addict... I tried to "help" their relationship, too.  It backfired oh so many times in so many ways.  Now, I know that BM is going to do whatever she feels like, and no one, especially me, wanting her to be a better parent is going to change what she does.  Now, I just try to keep SS on an even emotional level, and clean up BM's messes as she makes them; comforting SS or making sure he knows we are always going to be here for him, that we are his rock.  

by on Aug. 18, 2011 at 12:39 AM

Wow! You have a difficult road ahead. I honestly don't know any advice to give except to be persistant and patient in your care of SD and BF. I'll be praying that you and your family can work this out. I also applaude for trying to keep a relationship between SD and BM. It would be so easy to just let everyone phase her out.

you rock

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