Family v. Biological connection relation
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|Sat, 09-25-2010 - 10:05pm|
I had an interesting discussion with ODD this afternoon concerning SM and I'm not sure what the right answer is for this one. My natural instinct is for her to own her own emotional chit and the consequences for her own reactions but she's making it about me with my daughter and not sure if I handled this correctly.
It's open for debate.
Up until two years ago, I was not on speaking terms with my former in-laws. I didn't think those relationships would last a divorce and didn't feel it was appropriate to pursue them if they didn't pursue me. I was very close to former SIL while married to ex.
Four years ago, former SIL, SM's now SIL, had a falling out because paternal Aunt confronted SM about being abusive towards ODD/her DSD...the abuse was done in front of former SIL and SIL is the kind of person who cannot be apathetic in response. Part of the confrontation included mention of me...because SM was verbally berating ODD at a restaurant dinner table about ODD crossing her legs and apparently, what was part of the dialogue was ODD mentioning something about her "Mama gave me this dress" and it sent SM into verbal frenzy. Former SIL, the next day, asked to speak to Dad and SM in private after the kids went down and confronted SM on her verbal abuse (while Dad was in the bathroom but done in front of her with ODD) and SM didn't deny it.
That falling out was four years ago. At that time, I was not on speaking terms with former SIL nor any of the paternal family. Paternal family was completely cut-off from ODD.
Fast forward two years, and I'm passing through her paternal family's city of residence with ODD traveling to see my family with her. ODD asks to call them and I offer them an opportunity to see her...that was the start of reconciliation and renewal of our relationship again. As ODD's mother, not as ex-husband's wife.
And we've been behaving like family ever since...genuine relationship. But I've made it VERY clear that if I ever become a stumbling block to reconciliation with ODD's father and his wife...I'll step out. The family has emphatically stated they don't want that even though they would like reconciliation with ODD's father.
Fast forward to today, where my daughter mentions she thinks SM is jealous of me. SM believes the paternal family has always preferred me and there is no room for her. I guess SM had a conversation with her about why they don't visit her Kansas paternal family and she's made it about me to ODD. She told ODD that she can't have a relationship with them when she is made inferior in relation to someone else: me. She went on to say that the family shouldn't be treating me the way they do because I'm no longer in the family.
I told ODD I totally "get that" point of view and agree with SM. I'm NOT in the family because I'm not legally married to her father anymore. However, I am her mother and I do have that connection to the family in that way along with mutual relationships. I told ODD that I would be more than willing to step back if needed if my relationship with them is being used as reason for her father not to visit his family. Further, I think her father should be the one taking her to see them, not me. But if he's not willing to do that, I am for her best interests. I asked her her thoughts on it and if she thinks her interests would be better served no longer taking her to see them. She said "no, I'd never see them if not for you".
On to my debate questions....
1. Is it overstepping for the other biological parent to facilitate a developed relationship with former in-laws when the other parent refuses to do it?
2. If an ex is a parent to former in-laws kin, are they family? Who determines that? The in-laws, the ex or the former spouse/new spouse?
3. Would you step out if you knew your facilitation of a relationship with the former in-laws was now the excuse being used to no longer try to reconcile?
It has never been my intention or goal to further estrange ODD's father and SM from his family. I don't believe I was ever the cause of it but now my daughter is being told the family's favoritism between SM and I is the reason for the estrangement. ODD knows better but it still bothers me I'm being used as the convenient excuse for it.