I’m sure divorced moms experience this as well, but this complaint seems to be more prevalent among stepmoms, probably because moms hold more power when it comes to their children.
Pick a situation, it could be anything: you think things are going well and then you get a nasty email or text telling you how it’s going to be. Telling you what you can or cannot do.
A Demand from the other woman.
For most people, when someone makes a demand of them, their initial instinct is to resist and push back.
Their initial response is something along the lines of: “Excuse me? Who the hell do you think you are? You can’t tell me what to do!”
Only in this situation, sometimes the other woman CAN tell you what to do. For instance, sitting in on a family therapy session. If mom doesn’t want you there, unless the therapist agrees to separate sessions, you’re not going to be there.
So now not only are you pissed that you were treated so rudely, but you have to sit back while she gets her way. Talk about throwing salt on the wound.
I have no doubt this dynamic adds to the resentment stepmoms and divorced moms experience with each other.
Now, take the same situation, but imagine she asks you for something instead of demands it.
Something pretty amazing usually happens. You don’t feel so much resistance. There’s nothing to push back against.
For me, add in a little vulnerability and I’m pretty much putty in your hands.
For example, “Hey there, I’m under a lot of stress dealing with (fill in the blank) and to have you included in this is really difficult for me right now (Vulnerability). Would you be willing to step back on this one (Request)? I’d really appreciate it.”
Wow. Can you feel what a different response that would elicit?
Not only might you be receptive to the request, but you might actually go into “helping” mode, where you can feel compassion, maybe even some empathy for what she’s dealing with. And sure, if you can make things a little easier this one time, you just might be willing to do that.
Unfortunately, in these situations where emotions run high and there’s quite a bit of animosity between women, there’s very little requesting going on and an overabundance of demanding.
Next time you’re in this position, see if you can adjust your strategy.
Try asking her instead of demanding.
Try being kind instead of triggered.
Try being vulnerable instead of rigid.
You just might feel a difference. And so might she.
© 2011 Jenna Korf All Rights Reserved
(Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono)
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