As parents we are automatically programmed to believe our children. When a former significant other hears their children say unusual or disturbing things about the other parent, that instinct kicks in full force. Not only is your child saying this, but you just divorced or split up with the other parent. It's not like you see rainbows and kittens when you think of them.
I'm writing this from the step-parent perspective. Don't think you are immune to the shockers children will say. You may not of birthed them, but over time you will form a bond and become the mama/papa bear. It's not the same as mom or dad, but it can feel just as intense.
Let's go over some of the situations that we have experienced.
Child stated to me I walk home in the rain, I don't like it. I asked if they had an umbrella. Of course they said no. Instead of talking to their mom about it. I just ordered an umbrella and had it shipped to their house. I didn't mean it as insult. I really didn't want to have the conversation. As a stepmother, when you bring up issues, it can come across like you are judging mom. Really all you want to do is share and back-up mom. Mom called when it arrived and asked about it. She clarified that they had tons of umbrellas. Needless to say we had a chuckle.
This child doesn't just tell us little white lies, said child talks smack about us too. Recently our child was at the store with mom. When mom said no to a particular outfit, our child said, "Daddy won't let me have this in NC because it makes me look too grown up." Mom messaged me, she knew it sounded far fetched and I proceeded to send their mom pictures of outfits that "Daddy" supposedly wouldn't let them have.
I'm sharing this with you, not to embarrass our children, but more to share with blended families that mommy/daddy game with a blended family can be more stressful. The game is real. Communications can already be difficult, and hearing your child give you information without the complete story, can be unsettling.
I encourage mom, dad, stepmother, and stepfather to not think the worst when a child says something about the other parent. Many times they are waiting for your reaction. Children know when you aren't communicating well and they will use it to their advantage. If you are approached by the other parent or step-parent regarding an issue, be patient and understand you aren't being judged. This also goes in reverse. As a step-parent you may be asked clarifying questions.
One of the favorite things our child has said is, "There's only one thing I don't like about you and mommy talking, I can't get away with anything." That statement made my heart smile.
This improvement in our relationship did not happen overnight. We've had our arguments. We've used some choice words. We just kept trying.
This is our situation. It may be different for you. I'm not saying you should ignore abuse. I'm suggesting a more respectful conversation. Ask the questions, but do so in a non accusatory tone. Also never react in shock or fear in front of your child. If your child tells you something that upsets you, excuse yourself. Find a private place to vent or freak out. If you do it in front your child, you are inviting the mommy/daddy game into your home. In addition it may create unnecessary court dates into your future.
Have you experienced the mommy/daddy game in your home? What approach worked for you? Share in our comments below.