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Biological Mother Very Hard To Deal With

by Trying To Do The Right Thing

My husband and I are dealing with a malicious Mother (ex-wife) who wants me, the Step-mom, really to have as little interaction with their daughter as possible. We get her every Wednesday night and every other weekend.

My husband is having real difficulty with his ex not wanting me to interact with her. For example, my husband works until 4 and I don't work. My stepdaughter gets out of school at 3:20 on Wednesdays. We are less than 2 miles from her elementary school and his ex-wife will not allow me to pick their daughter up from school.

Instead his ex-wife has her sister pick her up and take her back to her house, where my husband has to pick up his daughter. It's been like this for a year and a half now, and he doesn't want to go pick her up there anymore. It would be so much easier if I could just pick her up instead of my husband driving out of his way.

Any thoughts??? Please.....this hasn't been the easiest road for my husband or myself. My step-daughter and I have a great relationship! She's 8 and we have a mutual healthy love for each other.

Please help! Is it OK for my husband to not want to pick up his daughter at his ex sister in law's house? This sounds so normal to me - but to his ex-wife it's like a foreign language.

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Making Child Access Arrangements Work - Part One
by: Annie Desantis

It is very tricky in situations like yours, co-parenting after a divorce can be a mire of difficulties, particularly when one or other partners re-marry. It is always very hard for parents who have ended their relationship, realize they still need to have a positive relationship because they are parents of another little being. Sadly more often than not, the difficulties that caused the relationship to break down in the first place, are going to make it very hard to co-parent cooperatively.

Good communication is critical for the child to have healthy relationships with all parties. But it is a big leap for angry hurt parents to put their own stuff to one side and think what is best for their child.

Really what is most important is that this child needs to have as much support in dealing with any changes, and both parents ideally supporting each other in her best interests. She needs and has a right to easy access to both parents. She needs her relationship with all the parents involved to be supported and nurtured. And she should not be involved in power struggles with her as the pawn.

But clearly the Mom is still very hurt and resentful and is carrying her feelings over into the access arrangements for her daughter.

My advice to your husband? Firstly see if she will agree to some mediation or counseling together to negotiate the details of an access agreement or co-parenting arrangement. If she would go, it may be that with a mediator present she might be able to put her daughters needs first. However, I suspect she is not willing or able to put her own pain to one side and make arrangements that are in the best interests of all concerned.

Since she is using you as a focus of a lot of her anger, she is likely to believe it is better for her daughter to have as little contact with you as possible.

Unfortunately it is very difficult for you as the third party in the situation. My advice to you personally, is keep out of the icky stuff as much as possible.

Even though you are involved as a parent to this child, and it would make sense for you to be involved in arrangements etc - in actual fact you in the dynamic is making it much harder for the ex-wife to let go of her stuff.
Part Two Follows . . . .

Making Child Access Arrangements Work - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

Ideally we would like Mom to be supporting your relationship with the father of her child, but clearly she is a LONG way from being able to do that. So it is critical that you don't buy into her stuff and feel you have to present your side to the daughter, or show how unreasonable her Mom is being. The child should not be in the position of being involved in this. When she is older, she will no doubt make her own arrangements, but for now the negotiations need to take place between Mom and Dad.

Of course it seems to us the logical thing would be for you to pick up the child from school. But if Mom won't agree, it is not fair for your husband to insist you do it, as it puts you in a very difficult position.

One of the most important things you can maintain, is the wonderful relationship you have with your step-daughter. Keeping it simple and keeping that clear of the murky stuff between your husband and his ex, will be much better for her.

You are not in competition with the Mother, you are an additional parent for this child, and that can be a very special relationship.

You can be the one to help build bridges between you all, by making sure you never undermine or complain about Mom around your Step-daughter, and trying to keep neutral when your husband is venting his frustration. Don't fuel his annoyance by adding your complaints.

At face value, you don't have very much control over Mom's behavior. However, you two are actually contributing to keeping the energy fueled that is underlying this unhealthy dynamic. And unfortunately, this little girl will also be picking up on some of this. Her loyalties will be torn, and that may get worse as she gets older and can see more rationally what is happening.

Given that Mom is unlikely to co-operate, you and your husband can go a long way to shifting this unhealthy communication by shifting how you both react, respond and talk about the situation.

You are both adding fuel to the situation with your frustrations at the way Mom is behaving. Particularly when your husband digs his heels in and refuses to comply with her demands.

You guys have formidable united energy that she is feeling she has to fight back against. No doubt the daughter goes home excitedly talking about the great time she had with you and her Dad, and Mom will see she has all the drudgery part of parenting, and you guys get the fun part. It will simply be fueling her resentment. Sadly the little girl will start to hold back her joy to protect Mom's feelings.

Part Three Follows . . .

Making Child Access Arrangements Work - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

I suspect when Dad is feeling annoyed he has to drive across town to pick his daughter up, when it would be so much easier and quicker for you to do it, then he is not picking his daughter up with clear energy.

He is likely having to face the disapproval of an ex sister in law, he may grumble about the inconvenience, may try to get her to change her sister's mind, and generally be tied up in the annoyance of the whole arrangement. And clearly this will not be the only example of his ex wife making things difficult.

But he could totally turn this around by seeing this as his special time with his daughter on his own - which it is important that he has. They could maybe get a burger together and then bring dessert home to share with you. Seeing this as special time to look forward to, rather than an irritating waste of his time, is a HUGE shift in energy.

Finding a different way to view a scenario goes a long way in making a change - even in the other resistant person.

When you are expecting Mom to be uncooperative, and trying to force her to agree to what you think is reasonable then she has no-where to go. She has backed herself into a corner where she is convinced she has to oppose and obstruct any arrangements. When someone is coming from a position of feeling hurt, feeling powerless, and feeling jealous, she is going to scrabble for what ever power she can in the situation.

Unfortunately that impacts on the child.

Hard though it may be, it would make a huge difference if you two can start thinking of her with compassion instead of frustration, with respect as the Mother of this child, instead of annoyance with her unreasonable arrangements, and reinforce the good in her instead of emphasizing her attempts to sabotage your relationship with your stepdaughter - or each other.

I would suspect the child is well aware of your irritations and frustration with Mom's demands and unreasonableness. And I would be pretty sure she is also well aware of Mom's anger, hurt and resentments.

As the third person you have more ability to step outside of that, and also to be able to influence your husband to shift his perspective and thoughts.

Whilst you can't force Mom to change and get help to deal with all the unfinished stuff she is carrying, you can actually significantly change the situation if you change your side of the energy behind it. Of course that is a lot harder for your husband to do, since he will have a lot more history of difficult interactions and communication with her, and will much more easily get pulled back into adversarial interactions.

Part Four Follows . . .

Child Access Arrangements Work - Part Four
by: Annie Desantis

From a "higher consciousness" position, you can actually make significant changes though. By starting to see her as someone who is hurting, that needs love and compassion and deserves respect despite her behavior you will shift things energetically enough that it will change the dynamic around the whole issue.

If you two can stop buying into the drama, difficulty, tensions and stress around it all, and treat her gently, I promise, it will eventually start to shift the way she deals with you. When she is not getting added energy and examples to reinforce her pain and entrenched position, she will start to gradually let go some of it.

So as much as possible, unhook from seeing her as malicious and destructive, and look for the good in her. Reinforcing that for your Stepdaughter is really important.

Focusing on figuring out how to find a good outcome or focus in each situation instead of staying stuck in the frustration of arrangements that don't seem ideal. The more that you and your husband can make the time with your Step-daughter as clear as possible from the negative energy around Him and Her Mom, the healthier for her. The more you can both put positive energy out about the Mom, the better for the little girl, and the quicker Mom will be able to let go some of her entrenched behavior.

There is a lot of Mom in this little girl, and no matter how awful the relationship got between Mom and your husband, there are still a lot of good qualities in her (the Mom). When we are negative about Mom, we are also negating her daughter. It is far more powerful to build up the good qualities and keep the focus on that. It all filters down and will start to have a positive effect, not just on your Step-daughter, but also on the underlying energy around Mom.

Make the most of being a Step Mom, it can be a very special kind of relationship,

All the best,
Annie D :)

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