she’s poisoned the kids against us

Dear Suzie,
I met my partner and his children after he had been separate from his ex for 6 years. He hates her after she has blackmailed him, bad mouthed him (saying he has never paid for his chilodrens upkeep) to professionals and family. None of this is true. She has told the children that they wre naturally going to love her more than their father because babies are held first by their mothers. She has consistently poisened the children against their father and myself.

We have done the same more recently and although I know it is wrong, I just couldnt help myself after 8 years of abuse from her. It has made things worse and I resulted in telling the daughter that I hated her Mother. I think it is damage beyond repair and do not know what to do next.

It sounds really sad, and i’m sure you’d like to make it better. Nothing is ever damaged beyond repair – it just takes extra work when it’s gone especially sour, that’s all. Separated and stepfamilies are such minefields. When a family had come apart, there will be so much pain, grief, guilt, anger, jealousy and simple need around that it’s easy to get confused and start hitting out. And when new people and new families come along, it can get even worse.

It sounds to me as if all of you need to call a time out and look at what is to be done here. The fact is that whatever happened in the past ought to be settled and laid to rest. What really matters is what you’re going to do in the future. Your partner has children and will always be their father, and ought always to be in their life. I can understand why his ex tried playing “You love me best” games – that’s common in such a situation,. And I can understand why you felt the need to play them back. But it’s time to put the needs of the kids first. And if you were able to do so, actually all the adults in this would benefit too.

My advice would be to get hold of a copy of my book – Stepfamilies – Surviving And Thriving In A New Family published by Simon and Schuster (you’ll find a link to where you can buy it if you want on the books page in this site) and read it. You’ll see all these issues are covered in there – which reassures you how common it is and tells you what you can do about it. Then write to her, acknowledging you feel what has happened has to been good for any of you and offer to make a fresh start for the sake of her children, for her and for the two of you.

You could offer to meet with the support of a mediator, so each of you would get a chance to speak and be heard, and to agree on how you are all to manage best for the kids happiness in future. National Family Mediation can tell you of your nearest centre. Call them on 0117 904 2825 or go to . For north of the border, Family Mediation Scotland 18 York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3EP, on 0131 558 9898
Good luck!

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