Dear Chump Lady,
I kicked my husband out two weeks ago after discovering his affair with a woman 20 years older than me. He’s now moved in with her, and within a week they had a bedroom set up for my son and are planning on keeping him several nights each week.
My STBX has been handing the phone over every night during his goodnight call so the OW can talk to our 5-year-old son before bed. She asks him about his day, says how much she misses him, and can’t wait to see him again. The woman has known my son for less than a week and my husband is already starting to refer to her as his ‘step mom.’
Oh, also, I’m not allowed to meet her or her 14-year-old son who lives there as well.
I’m relieved my husband is gone; he was a miserable spouse. He’s her problem now. But I can’t deal with listening to her on the phone with my son every night.
Can you please shine some light on the best way for me to respond this? I’m really shaken up!
Thanks for all you do!
Hang Up Mom
I think your best response comes from a lawyer. I’m not a lawyer and can’t give you legal advice, but if it were me, I’d want a temporary custody order in place from a judge that spells outs introductions to “new” (cough… cough…) partners and living arrangements.
Courts don’t give a shit about your broken heart, but they do purportedly care about “best interests” of the children — so I would not document how distressing this is to you, but to your son. He’s just a kindergartner! I imagine he’s pretty confused and upset. Let’s hope the judge sees this “meet your new mommy!” bullshit as the traumatic, unnecessary garbage that it is. (Really OW, you need to inflict your pathetic grandma ass on this innocent kid? A WEEK after he loses his family?)
Kudos to you for throwing the cheating bum out. Looks like he misses cake — so what better way to torture you for kibbles than triangulate with your child? OW loves a triangle of course too. WATCH ME BE A BETTER MOMMY THAN YOU! I CARE about his day! Were there graham crackers? I HAVE GRAHAM CRACKERS! CINNAMON graham crackers! I bet you buy generic. I WON your HUSBAND and now I shall WIN OVER YOUR CHILD!
Yeah, whatevs Hag Face. No you won’t. Anyway, your job, HUM, is to resist the bait. No one can make you a hypotenuse if you don’t let them. Keep doing your sane parent job, because daddy and that weird old lady he hangs out with have given leave of their senses. That’s what you want to telegraph to your kid — you’ve got this. You’re confident in your mothering. And you’re not threatened by the antics of two idiots.
Your son needs you to be the stable parent now. The steady person who demonstrably cares about him. Children know the difference between words (Goodnight! Graham crackers!) and actions. They know who shows up and who doesn’t. Focus on what you DO control — you and the example you set.
You’re being remarkably mighty the way you’re navigating this, throwing him out two WEEKS after discovery! And now I’m asking for yet more mightiness. But as you face off in court over custody, it’s really important to not lose your composure and to bring your parenting A game. (As I’m sure you always have.)
Trust me, these fuckers are trying to throw you off. To show how unstable you are, and what Fabulous People they are. Give them nothing to work with. No reactions, except through your lawyer.
The Schmoopie impression management is in high gear now. They need to demonstrate that hurting the collateral little people was worth Twu Wuv. OW needs to demonstrate that she’s Awesome and not a convenient crash pad or a hole to fuck. (Hey, my wife threw me out! I LOVE YOU!) Your soon-to-be-ex needs to make you out to be the Bad Person so he’s not such a pathetic loser by contrast.
So what better way to unnerve you than to bring the Pick Me Dance to your child? Message sent — You won’t dance for me? You can dance to win your child’s affection!
Hell no. Mama doesn’t dance.
You know who you are. And you know what they are. Now tell a lawyer and see them in court.
There’s no controlling all the stupid shit he’ll get up to after you divorce, or the idiots he’ll invite into his life or put on the phone. But there is sane parenting, court orders — and hanging up.