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The Kid Calls the Felon OW ‘Mama’

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Dear Chump Lady,

I am divorced from a shitbag who decided to have an affair with a married coworker. Yes, I know, I should have seen it coming. Not to mention I am positive I held some of his red flags for him while watching them wave in the wind. He probably needed both hands free to text his Twu Wuv. I am going on 2 wonderful blissful years of solitude in the land of Meh, which I never thought I would see. Unfortunately, I spent two years previous backpedaling, pick-me dancing, crying, and of course trying to untangle the skein of fuckedupness. It was all very ugly. Until I read your book, did I realize I needed to get a fucking grip.

So, once I found out about the affair, it was not pretty. I held out for a while (insert those two years), until I found out his new Shmoopie was pregnant, then I filed for divorce.

He was livid to say the least. (Still not sure why.) He drug his feet, avoided being served, etc. I had to catch him to have him served. I also filed for child support, to which he cussed me out inside of the courthouse, while waiting for paperwork. Who was I to take any of his money?!! I digress.

So, Schmoopie became pregnant, which was a total surprise as she did not tell anyone until she was around 6 months. (She left town.) Not to mention this was her second pregnancy with my now ex-husband. The first was a secret, in which she left the baby at the hospital under Daniel’s Law. Okay, so ex and I get divorced, they for some reason, unbeknownst to me, decide to get married a month later.

Continuing in my own life and trying to get off their rollercoaster, another month later I find Schmoopie’s mugshot while scrolling my news feed. She had been arrested for stealing over $100,000 by forgery and identity theft. Mind you, my ex-husband never said a word until confronted. I am not sure what land he is living in, even to this day. I admit, it was a bit insulting to be looked over as he picked this winner. Emphasis on the was, please. Case heard, Felony Probation sentence.

So, of course, they now are one with Lord. Church going, God-fearing Christians. That makes everything okay, right? The past is in the past! Anyway, my ex-husband and I have a child together who is around 7 years old. They have regular visits, overnights, etc. (This is after many heated arguments over his continuing the relationship and most importantly my child’s safety.) Things seem to be moving along and the past completely ignored. No one seemed to acknowledge my feelings about the situation, letting my child continue to be a part of Schmoopie’s life.

So, my child comes home one afternoon and is telling me a story about his visit. He slips up and refers to Schmoopie as Mama. My child quickly looks at my expression, only to find it cool and calm. I did not bat an eye. I said, “Oh, you call her Mama?” To which they replied yes. I said, “Okay, that’s nice! You’ve got two mommies that love you very much.”

Tracy, you have got to be fucking kidding me. Any normal situation I would have brushed it off into the wind. But this, THIS is downright insulting. Please guide me through this with your wonderful way with words. I have handled enough with these folks and my only question could be “what next?” when it comes to them.

Original Mom

Dear Original Mom,

Brushing it off was exactly what was called for. You don’t need to assist the Schmoopies with their impression management. Whatever possessed you? Let’s replay this scene.

So, my child comes home one afternoon and is telling me a story about his visit. He slips up and refers to Schmoopie as Mama. My child quickly looks at my expression, only to find it cool and calm.

Well done so far. Cool, bummer, wow.

I did not bat an eye. I said, “Oh, you call her Mama?” To which they replied yes.

By “they” I assume you mean Mr. and Mrs. Schmoopie?

I said, “Okay, that’s nice! You’ve got two mommies that love you very much.”

(Groan.) Listen, Mom, you can not go head-to-head with fuckwits on inauthenticity. It’s NOT nice. Those are not your true feelings. This is one situation where you can let the shit sandwich (child calls OW “mama”) drop, uneaten. You are NOT required to eat it with relish and pronounce it delicious to their faces.

I get it. You’re trying to be all, “You want to hurt me? I’m FINE with this! FINE! Johnny has two mommies who love him!” They wanted to see your hurt and revulsion and you tried to take the higher ground with Why This Isn’t a Disgusting Turn of Events, It’s Consciously Uncoupled Scrumptilicious!

You totally don’t want to shame your child for calling OW “Mama” or “Her Lord Highness of Identity Fraud” or “Roxie” or whatever they call her over there. Poor kid has enough on his plate. You can play it neutral and change the subject. What happens at Dad’s house stays at Dad’s house.

Unless that something is criminal. Which brings me to identity theft. THAT is the real flaming bag of dog poo in this story. The woman is a grifter! Someone who steals $100K — this isn’t her first rodeo. Absolutely protect yourself and your child on this front. It would freak me out no end that this woman has your child’s Social Security number and personal information.

Please look into credit reporting services, and freezing credit lines. Good tips here.

I would totally bring this to the attention of a lawyer and see if you can’t get full custody, or supervised visitation over him marrying a felon.

Things seem to be moving along and the past completely ignored. No one seemed to acknowledge my feelings about the situation, letting my child continue to be a part of Schmoopie’s life.

It’s not about your feelings. It’s about your child’s safety and your identity protection. They have court orders for these sorts of things.

Church-going, call me “mama”, is all impression management. I’m sorry your child has been pressed into service of their narrative. Your job is to be the sane parent. No one replaces you. The love your child feels for you is primal.

I can’t help but think OW/Mama doesn’t have more nefarious reasons for wanting a cozy relationship with your child and your ex. Your ex deserves all the consequences of her criminal enterprise. Your child does not.

Please talk to a lawyer today.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Ugh hell no. And that “I found Jesus” BS is a quick stop to the next crime – it won’t last for long. I couldn’t have kept a straight face and would have said nope only I’m your mom. And that child is looking to you because they are confused and know it’s not right. And you are their world and their compass and like Tracy says the one sane parent. I have found that 90% of divorce advice when it comes to co-parenting goes against my values and the values I’m teaching my children. I will not be friends with an abuser, a liar, an extremely non trustworthy unethical selfish individual whether I was once married to him or
    not nor will I help support his choices and feed my kids lines that make it all right and ok. It’s goes against everything I’ve spent my whole life teaching them. They wouldn’t buy that BS anyways. (Tracy is the 10% that’s right. 🙂

    • What is it with these cheaters and religion? My ex wife and I only stepped into a church for the random funeral in 24 years, after her shenanigans and bailing out on the family all of a sudden her posts were full of the praying hands and responses to her AP‘a Fakebook posts were all about Jesus and the never ending prayer hands…like REALLY?? I remember when we were still talking (as I was hopeful still for reconciliation) I asked her about that and she was all “I’ve always been spiritual” like ummmm no actually you never fucking were but whatever…Good riddance!

        • “It’s disingenuous impression management.”

          Yup and they also think they are going to pull the wool over God’s eyes…….such freaks.

      • My ex walked out the door of our marriage and straight into taking my daughter to Church with him every weekend. We never went to church- not once.

        • Same! I didn’t even delve into the relationship I had with the ex. I was baffled by the church going but it was obviously bc of OW

        • Two reasons for church going:
          (1) It looks good to the probation officer and judge.
          (2) It’s one of those independent non-denominational churches that preaches The Word in a way that validates them. Affiliation to any authority outside of themselves, or formal theological education for the leader, is not required.

      • “What is it with these cheaters and religion?”

        It’s the fuckwit’s only hope.

        I had an aunt and uncle who were Jesus holy rollers. He taught bible school, she ranted to waitstaff about what a “good Christian woman” she was.

        But the truth?

        He was a grifter. Lived with my grandmother for 30 years and never paid her a dime in rent. Ignored Grandma when she cried from hunger. Stole her silver and racked up debt on her credit cards. Never met a woman whose wallet he didn’t like. Creeped on all his teenage nieces.

        Aunt was a personality disordered lunatic who covered for her brother’s fraud and bum lifestyle. She even filed a frivolous lawsuit against my father for access to Grandma’s estate (the poor woman wasn’t even dead yet).

        100%, Aunt and Uncle’s abuse of their mother pushed her into the grave. Grandma had dementia and by the end, she’d call us crying because Aunt and Uncle would rant at her in the nursing home and tell her lies about Dad, that he beat her, etc.

        Fuckwits cling to religion because it’s their only hope for salvation. It also protects them, and sadly they’re often right. People assume piety means moral character.

  • She left a baby at the hospital, but wants your child to call her mom.
    My exs ow, didn’t want her kids but wanted mine to call her aunty.
    Both seem deluded.
    I would watch your back. That amount of money did she not serve a prison sentence.
    I would get a credit check every 4 months.
    I wouldn’t share your email address or anything electrionally with her.
    That amount of fraud she knows seriously dodgy people.
    Don’t fall for the victim

    • Yes, get a copy of your kid’s credit report and put a fraud alert freeze on it. Your ex has your kid’s SSN.

  • Tracy, I think by “they” the letter writer meant her child. This seems to be a common thing, referring to a person not by “he” or “she” but “they.” I find it weird, but oh well.

    • Ah, okay, I think you’re right. Hopefully OP will weigh in. Advice still applies. Let it drop. You don’t have to be fake that you’re okay with it when you’re insulted.

      • I cannot believe how everyone got so hung up on my grammatical error. Extremely discouraging. Sigh.

        • Your grammatical error made it very confusing as to who was involved with the conversation when your child referred to the OW as “Mamma.” I did not read anyone busting on you, just people trying to figure out the context. I would hope that you would cut us some slack as we’re all trying to be helpful and supportive.

        • I read it that they were present during the conversation. My vision is bad so I miss things a lot. Hugs to you Original Mom.

        • I understood immediately that you were referring to your child, while protecting his/her identity by not including the child’s sex. Keep a stiff upper lip, Original Mom! You may have long years ahead of dealing with your ex and the felon step-“mama”.

    • I think it is a gender neutral thing. Original Mom may not want to reveal the gender of her child online.

      • Except she indicates he elsewhere so maybe not. In any case, they does seem to be making it’s way into the vernacular in lieu of he/she.

      • But original Mom did reveal her child’s gender when she stated …

        “ So, my child comes home one afternoon and is telling me a story about ** his ** visit.”

        Yes, I agree the “they” made it confusing and caused me to reread that paragraph over slowly. 🤷🏼‍♀️

        • Nothing at all wrong with using “they” as a gender neutral singular pronoun. Many languages do that.

          English is evolving. It sounds awkward now, but our kids will probably find “they” very natural.

    • Sometimes a person doesn’t identify as he/him, she/her. Even a child.

      Also, the letter writer could be trying to protect themselves and their child from identification. It is a unique situation. And sometimes you don’t feel anonymous.

    • I unfortunately didn’t fully proofread. I was trying to make my child as anonymous as possible.

    • It’s not “idiocy”. She’s trying to not give too many details. I’ve done the same thing.

      • Thanks, I’ll take into consideration, along with the year it took me the courage to write this. If you’re going to get disgruntled over the way people write their shit stories why read Chump Lady column at all? Beyond me.

        • Yeah, I don’t get the silly dogpiling either.

          It’s awesome you shared your story with us and commend your courage in doing so. This stuff is always so hard. I’m sorry your ex is a shithead. Hang in there.

      • Chumpnomore6, there is nothing “nonsense” about trans gender people.

        The writer (Original Mom), was doing her best to explain the situation. Please try to have some compassion for those that write in. We are all doing our best and here to support one another.

    • It could the trendy “gender neutrality”. Or, perhaps, Original Mom was trying to hide details about the child’s identity, calling him “my child” rather than “my son”, and using the gender-neutral pronoun. Problem is, she slipped up a couple of times and used male pronouns, too. So, it all became confusing.

  • If it were me, I’d leave it a while, then if your child calls Felony Chick mama again, just have a chat about it in a neutral way, ask if they want to call you both the same thing, is it fun / is she kind (very general, NOT DIGGING FOR INFORMATION), but just suss out how your child actually feels. If it seems that they have been asked / told / guilted into calling this person mama, just explain that they can call them whatever they prefer, but that it’s their own choice, no one else’s, including you.

    And yes, please speak to a lawyer and get some protection in place around things like your child’s social security and so on. This person is not only a felon, but she has ditched at least one baby *that you know of* who turned into an inconvenience, evidently she’s not someone who’d sacrifice anything for a child or to do the right thing. Not that I’m knocking people who feel that placing a baby for adoption is the right decision for them, circumstances can make choices extremely hard and sometimes the right thing isn’t the thing anyone would ideally want, but this woman is obviously not in that camp. She’s a criminal, negligent about contraception, not hugely concerned about consequences and she has time with your child. I’d try and get that cut down to the barest minimum if remotely possible.

    I feel like very soon she will be gone and out of all of your lives, but till then…

    • This was my first response, too – I think the cool and neutral initial response was just right. I think it paved the way for a second conversation that’s informative, interactive, and non-punitive. The non-punitive part is the most important element.

      This poor kid is one of the ingredients in this particular shit sandwich. The only way to lessen the horror of that is to lift the bread on your own side and let the child out whenever possible. The ex and the AP will keep pushing the child back in, and the sane parent will keep letting the child back out. It sucks, but it’s necessary. And it makes room for all the important authentic and significant conversations, which are super important.

      It’s easy to forget that no conversation has to be the last on the topic. We get to process then revisit topics at a better future time. It’s often preferable to do this. It models a behavior it’s important for the children in our lives to learn – stop, breathe, reflect with context, then restart with mindfulness and clarity and when the stakes are less high.

      I agree with CL that more discussion is needed, and I also believe that waiting a beat has a lot of opportunity in it. Feels like a good strong place for some real growth from over here.

      • “It’s easy to forget that no conversation has to be the last on the topic. We get to process then revisit topics at a better future time. It’s often preferable to do this. It models a behavior it’s important for the children in our lives to learn – stop, breathe, reflect with context, then restart with mindfulness and clarity and when the stakes are less high.”
        THIS is so important- to be able to go back and take up a subject again- especially a significant one. If it’s important, it’s also important to re-visit it and clarify as much as is possible. Our emotional-avoidant culture often glosses over the depth of issues arising from feelings. Once we or the other person are no longer radioactive, or “emotionally dis-regulated” it is great to be able to go back to what caused the reaction and perhaps even get to some peaceof mind about it. I’m learning to to this with my son, now that he is old enough to ask questions about the horrible past, and I am no longer radioactive (all the time).

    • 7 is really early to get sucked into this shit (not that narcs care), but I would suggest that it’s a good opportunity to give the child some sense of ‘ownership’ in a situation where he/she/they might not think any exists.

      The first cool response was indeed the right thing to do — though, as Tracy said, I would have left out the “that’s nice” part. In the follow-up, I think the situation should be framed in some form of: “You’re getting to be big now — this is a decision you get to make for yourself, at least when you’re here with me. You can refer to (Mugshot Myrtle) however you want, and if you’d like to talk about it, we can.”

      • You are all too nice. I think I would find the article with MugShot’s photo in it.. and say innocently “Oh look! Mugshot has her picture in the paper! I wonder why? Let’s read together! Hmmm….embezzlement is a big word. I wonder what it means… honey, can you bring me the dictionary?”

        Turn it into a teachable moment. Vocabulary building and dictionary skills…

    • Good point. See how the child feels about it without putting him on the spot. Is is forced or does he want to? I took it as the child was comfortable but maybe not.

    • Oh yes — lawyers and credit reports! Is there any way to actually change the child’s social security number since a known felon has access to it? (Pardon my ignorance here.)

  • Fully agree that you consistently run security/credit report checks on both YOURS and YOUR CHILDS social security number. Do not let your guard down on that front.

    As for what the call the other woman, I never understood this need for posturing unless you were guilty of something and trying to do your best impression management.

    Mr. Sparkles first wife was the OW (I came to learn later)… she had his twin boys from a prior relationship call her “Step Mommy” at the age of two. Flash forward ten years, they’re divorced, I’m introduced and I’m asked by the boys (now 12)… what should we call you… NOW everyone here knows I should’ve seen that as a BIG RED FLAG… but I didn’t… I said, my name is ICSTMC, why don’t we go with that? And even though I did go on to become their next stepmom… and I am now happily Gigi to the first grandbaby (they kept me in their lives as adults)… I am and will always be ICSTMC to them. I’m not their Mom… she earned that title the hard way and no one has a right to take it from her. I say the same to you… Original Mom 🙂

    • So much this, but it sounds as if Original Mom’s Fuckwit wants to put the child in the middle.

      My parents were married until my father died, so I never had to deal with what I should call a step-parent, but one of my friends divorced her fuckwit a few years ago. After a bit, she started dating, and she’s been with her partner now for about 3 years and has a child by him. Her children call her partner by his first name, even the toddler.

      Only fuckwits feel as if they need to usurp a parent’s title.

      For Original Mom, I think the advice about letting this sit until the next time your child refers to OWife as “mom” is a good one. Have a carefully neutral conversation about what your child prefers to call OWife.

      And subscribe to one of those credit monitoring services for both you and your child. I did that as soon as I learned that Schmoopie had been in court for passing bad checks. I knew that she looked for men who could support her in the manner in which she would like to be accustomed, but I wouldn’t have put it past her to engage in credit fraud. I took ALL of the tax returns from the house because they had my SSN on them.

      A couple of months before the divorce went through, CheaterX and Schmoopie wanted to snoop around so CheaterX asked me for my SSN so that he could draw up the Qualifying Domestic Relations Order (QDRO, for those of you not in the US, and it involves dividing a pension/retirement account during a divorce). I replied that QDROs were tricky legal documents (they are) and that he didn’t need my SSN for this because my lawyer would draw the document up. He persisted. I said no.

      Of course, let your lawyer know of the felony conviction. Courts don’t care about feelings, but they do care about the safety of the child.

  • I am a little sick in my stomach with this one. I would have to say lawyer up and just remind this boy how much you have loved him since he was a baby. Talk about fun subject your child likes and get that quality time in and he will always remember :). Pictures and all sorry I could not get past the Mama thing – maybe step mommy but that’s more than enough lol.

  • Ughh. I read an email where my 16 year old referred to new wife and cheater dad as ‘my parents’ to a teacher. It hit me so weird but I am very confident in my position as ‘mom’. In the case of a seven year old and a felon that was the OW, I think I would be inclined to tell him it is fine to call her Mama. She is your step-mom, and I am your real mom, leaving out the we both love you, because that is a lie. She does not love the child like the OP. When the opportunity arises that can be clarified in a “I’m always here for you because I am your mother” kind of way.

  • I don’t know why, but this reminds me of when ex was trying to reassure me when he made the decision to leave me for Schmoopie. “Don’t worry, she will never replace you in the kid’s lives”. My first reaction was “well duh, the kids are way too old to accept an OW as anything but an acquaintance, if that”. Honestly, that possibility never even crossed my mind but in saying what he said, it was clear to me that he was angling for some kind of blended family daydream. That’s what upset me more than any fear that the kids would actually go along with it.

  • Protect yourselves by assuming OW has both of your SS numbers, as best you can. There’s a lot of free (and good) advice online regarding ID theft reporting and recovery. I had some ID theft last year and had to jump through several hoops to get the debt purged from my records (local police report, letters to credit agencies and credit line opened in my name). There was no way to directly contact the credit line except mail because it didn’t recognize my phone number. I would not have known about the ID theft before going into collections if the thief had not used my physical address.

    The custody sounds like something you need to know how best to track issues and when to be able to apply to change it.

    Lucky kid to have a mom paying attention.

  • This is a serious shit sandwich that you and your son are eating. Sending huge hugs your way.

    I’m at Meh but this post reminds me that the choices of these horrible cheaters have long lasting consequences for everyone. Breeding with a cheater and having to watch as your kids endure this type of situation is excruciating.

  • Sorry, they are using your precious one to serve you shit sandwiches. Disney daddy does the same buffet service except I’m not sure if he’s got the same AP lined up yet. I’m not looking or caring. Disney daddy is using our children for cake and kibbles too. Just like your precious little one. Hugs to you. Being the sane parent is difficult.

    Is anyone else having pop ups with malware on this site or is it just me?

  • Great advice about the credit monitoring of both the child and OP’s social security numbers. I don’t think I could have remained as calm as OP did about the mama thing. Lucky for me my kids are older. When ex walked away my 14 year old told me there will never be another “mom” and he won’t refer to any other woman as “step mom” either……. love my baby!

  • I suspect the child shot a glance at the mother because he had been schooled “not to tell because Mommy will be angry.”

    Here’s a reason the child shouldn’t be calling Felonious Schmoopie mom: she’s not trustworthy–she abandoned her first child with cheater ex, stole someone’s indentity and 100 thousand dollars–and there’s a very good chance that in not too long she’ll be out of this child’s life or let him down in some very big way (if she doesn’t enlist him in her schemes in ways that go beyond impression management), or use his information for another heist. When this happens, it’s going to impact the child. And if he’s been accustomed to calling her Mommy, and thinks of Mommy in this way, it’s going to do a number of his head and have far-reaching consequences.

    I hope you take CL’s advice and seek to have your child insulated from contact from these two. No good can come of his association with these losers.

  • My son’s father married a much younger Asian woman when my sons were in high school and college. She was not OW, but we did have a friendly business relationship for several years, and she had heard stories of my ex’s shenanigans many times. During this time she attended one of the larger churches in our small town, and constantly looked for “rich American Christian husband.” She was not interested in poor American Christian husbands. She had two previous American fathers for her children, one did not marry her, one did. So she was old enough to know better, but evidently a slow learner.

    Our business relationship ended when she decided to date, and eventually marry my ex. I am a bit old school, I suppose. I would never date the ex of someone who was a friend of mine, especially if I had heard the inside scoop of negative marital behaviors. It is the old story — He has changed, he will be good to me. Others can believe that a jackass can change his nature and become a unicorn, but I don’t buy it. Incidentally, my ex was never a Christian, and only pretended to be rich.

    At any rate, I believe she saw my life, and believed she could replace me, since I wasn’t in the story any more. She believed she could win over my children by pretending to love them as a mother. She has convinced the ex that she loves my youngest more than she loves the other children, including her two children. Her actions do not match her words, of course.

    There is a notion that one can be born again in the Christian faith, but the birth is spiritual in nature. God can forgive past sins, but that does not erase them from history books or criminal records. I have seen and heard many people profess this change verbally, but their actions do not change. You cannot become a unicorn because you say you are one. If you still walk and talk, and act like a jackass, in my book you are still a jackass. I believe many people try to hide behind this belief system, and if you don’t believe they have changed, then you are a “non-believer” in the faith. They don’t grasp that you can believe in the faith without believing they have really converted to the faith. The church community can believe whatever they choose to believe, I feel I am entitled to my opinion about sincerity.

    Whether you are a good mother or a bad mother, you are the child’s mother. Even if you are an adopted child, the woman who cared for you and raised you is your mother. If your parents divorce, and remarry other people, those people are step parents. You might have a good or bad step parent. I think step parents should have a different name from the actual parent. It is confusing to take the parent name. Whether a parent or step parent is good to the child or not, the proof is in the behavior, not the title.

    My son’s were raised to be respectful of their elders. That did not mean they had to believe their elders were all fine folks, but they were expected not to be rude. They have been respectful to their step parent, but they do not believe in her professed love for them. She has given them gifts in the past, designed to win them over, in my opinion. My son’s think I am too suspicious of her motives, and I tell them that time will tell , and to believe her actions, not her words. At any rate, she says she is a Christian, so I cannot determine whether her spiritual conversion is sincere. Let’s just say I watch from a distance, and I believe that the truth will eventually tell.

    You want the best for your child. Sometimes that means saying “cool, bummer” when you really don’t believe it is either. Some times you have to be socially polite because it does you no good to be rude. Believe your child will eventually figure it out. You did. Anyone can be distracted by a prancing unicorn, but eventually a jackass will show his true nature. Give it time.

  • God help the child and his mother when he gets into the early teen years. The more he sees of these deviant cons the greater the chance they will alienate him from his mother.

  • Telling your child the truth isn’t shaming him. You have one mommy, you can call her by her first name. That’s what I told my granddaughter.

    This teaches your child to be honest.

  • OW has some severe issues. From what I read she was married with kids, cheated with poster’s husband, got pregnant, left the area and abandoned the baby (that is actually a good thing) went back to poster’s husband and became pregnant again. Somewhere in this mix she embezzled a $100k and only received probation. If she was caught stealing $100k she is not a first time thief, this woman has a history. Maybe she got away with the prior stealing and maybe the company she worked for did not pursue charges. OW is a perfect example of a sociopathic train wreck and she’ll take your husband down with her, guaranteed. Poster needs to get a lawyer, sue for full custody and or possibly monitored visits with ex.

    • Yes, this is accurate and not it wasn’t her first, but biggest to date. Still wondering what my ex is thinking….🤦‍♀️

      • Your ex is probably thinking with the *little* head. Or magically thinking. Or so far into denial it doesn’t count as thinking. Be the sane parent, and tell your child to call the OW by her first name — she doesn’t get to use the “Mamma” title. That said, kids make mistakes and blurt out things they ought not to. My former step-daughter (who still calls me by my first name and introduces me as her step-mother) indiscriminately referred to all four of us (me, my ex, her mother and her mother’s husband) as “my parents.” I’m sure it bothered her mother, who was very gracious about it.

        But then, I am not a felon and I have never knowingly been the other woman.

  • The next time it comes up, I don’t think you cause any harm by saying, “Well, Schmoopie is your “‘step-mom”, but you only have one Momma.” You keep it light and no big deal and change the subject. Kids absorb stuff like that no problem. You’re not making a big deal about it, just making a statement. Then get back to making that macaroni necklace or whatever. I don’t think you’re required to smile and nod at something that makes your skin crawl.

    Also, credit reports for sure. 🙂

    • The problem even with step mom is that she’s a sociopath who does illegal acts. Believe me when I say a woman who drops off a child no questions asked doesn’t qualify for mom in any way, shape or form. Period.

      A huge part of leaving the disordered is reclaiming our identity. No way would I want a child to identify with this despicable side fuck.

      People like this use their kids to participate in illegal acts. Hell no.

      • And I’ll add that a parental role requires teaching right from wrong. Giving her a mom status puts her in a position of power over an innocent who is learning her evil ways. Agree with KB, get an attorney and get custody.

      • Most people who abandon their children do so out of sheer desperation, because they believe the child will be better off. Just because this psychopath took advantage of the option to drop a baby off no-questions-asked doesn’t mean it’s a fundamentally horrible thing to do. And arguably the child is better off, because being raised by this person would obviously be deeply traumatizing.

  • Wow. I’m so sorry this happened. I have to say, I have honestly taken the “high road” in almost all ways, but this – THIS – would have crossed a line with me. I would have calmly chatted with my child and clarified he has one “mama,” and that I love him very much, and that maybe we could come up with a nickname for Felon OW. Something cute that still encourages a close relationship.
    But any variation of “Mom?” NOPE.
    (This is coming from a stepmom of 28+ years.)

    • Thank you for that. I’ve also been a step mom in a previous relationship and wouldn’t expect that of any children. It’s weird and insulting to the other person. I guess its more clear to people with understanding.

  • I’ve started to take all the roadblocks, hoops, jabs, and whatever other insane stuff these cheaters do to make matters worse in chumps lives as wins.

    If cheaters are constantly using their energy to hurt, cause stress, or inflict frustration in our lives then clearly they are still obsessed with us. Which means they know they ruined their relationship, and are upset about it. Revenge antics are another form of regret, cheater regret.

    The best way to handle someone is to NOTHING them. When you nothing someone, it shows them you just don’t care and that probably really damages their precious cheating egos.

  • So, Chump Nation, here’s the next question. Say I pull the rug and everything goes up in the air. My child’s life gets a bit rearranged. How do I explain in, “Well this is happening because your other parents aren’t really great at making life choices?”

    • You follow through with your attorney first. You don’t have to explain the details of the disordered. You state that it’s your job to keep him safe.

    • The truth in plain terms is all that is needed. “The judge said it wasn’t a safe place for you. You are safe here with me.” If he asks why – tell him the OW stole money. Even young kids know stealing money is wrong, and that people who steal money aren’t to be trusted.

      You really don’t need any lectures or details, the plain simple facts speak for themselves in this case.

      Don’t waffle. Be resolute and protect him. You don’t want to be parenting a teen in a few years who has picked up his sense of morals from your ex and the ow.

    • At 7, a kid can understand the following limited explanation: “I was concerned with your safety sometimes over at your dad’s place, so I talked to some professionals about it and they agreed with me, so we talked to a judge who also agreed and now things are going to be a little bit different moving forward. Do you have any questions?” Then answer any specific questions the kid may have, simply and without embellishment, and work hard to normalize the new arrangement for your son.

      If he asks “what safety stuff were you concerned with?” You can simply say “your dad’s girlfriend committed some serious crimes in the past and me and the judge were worried about that and how it might affect you. We were worried about her judgement around you.”

    • Focus on what you can control: talk to a lawyer about how to best protect your child (full custody?) and freeze your child’s credit.

      Respectfully, you’ll waste time worrying about the what ifs. I’d put your energy toward productive activities (see: lawyer).

      “Pulling the rug out” sounds nefarious. All you’re doing is protecting your child. IF that means a change in lifestyle for your kid, cross that bridge when you come to it. You can explain in an age-appropriate way about boundaries and consequences.

  • The thing that jumped out at me from your letter, is the look your son gave you, to see if he had slipped up by saying mama. It’s so sad, he’s being trained, at his father’s house, to keep secrets. It’s twisting the mother/child bond you should have, where Mom is such a deep part of your seven year old life, and there’s so much trust, that you can just be free and feel safe! Poor kid, I hope there aren’t other secrets they’re telling him he has to keep. I wouldn’t trust those people for anything!

    • Or it could be that he somehow intrinsically knows that this could hurt his mom’s feelings, and he’s sensitive to that. My daughter’s the same way. It’s a gray area between being kind and sensitive to the feelings of others and being codependent. We work on it in our house.

      • I have always assured my children that they can be honest with me and tell me anything they want. If they seem worried about hurting my feelings, I assure them I am a grownup and I can handle it because it’s more important to me that they feel able to talk to me about anything that is bothering them. I make it clear to them that this is part of my role as a parent to help them understand their feelings and learn to manage them.

        Hopefully this highlights a difference in parental approaches and makes them feel far more secure with me than they do with cheater-ex and schmoopie who may be telling them to be secretive.

        I’d like to say my influence is turning them into honest young people, but they are still shifty about other things, as children are wont to do to avoid trouble.

  • @Tracy, I think by “they” she meant her child. “They” is a thing now. I can’t get used to it either.

    • Sue, I was trying to have my child remain anonymous and didn’t fully carry it through the letter.

    • In the UK at least, “they” for a singular person has been common usage for quite a while, even when I was in high school (I left school 21 years ago, just to give some perspective – it was way before trans people started to become accepted by society in any meaningful way, if anyone assumes it’s because of that). I get that it might seem like a new thing to some people, though.

    • For the record, I’m a fan of the singular “they” and I fought hard for it in my book LACGAL. (The copyeditor seriously put his/her in there. I took them all OUT. Still burns.)

      I deleted, will delete, any WTF snark about gender neutral pronouns.

      All that said, I still couldn’t tell if this conversation was a “they” as in parents at a drop off or just with the child. Glad that’s sorted now.

  • I’m thankful that the first thing our custody mediator stated was that she puts in all agreement that nobody other than birth parents are to be called mom/dad in any form or language (ie mama, madre, etc). It does irk me when my oldest calls her step-sister just sister or occasionally says my parents about the couple that broke up two marriages, but I have to just ignore it.

    • Oh, that was smart. Wish I had done that. Not that it would be legally enforceable where I live, but at least it would be our agreed-upon preferences in writing.

      My daughter calls her dad’s girlfriend’s kids her “step siblings,” which I don’t love because there’s no legal marriage, they’ve only been together for 8 months, and she’s one of a string of women that will ultimately be discarded by him, leaving my daughter holding the “emotional bag,” as it were, of losing “siblings.” What I decided to do was to not focus so much on labeling but have ongoing conversations with my kid about the realities of her dad’s girlfriends and how, “hopefully it works out, but if it doesn’t and XYZ and kids leave, know that it has nothing to do with you. You’re a great kid with a big heart.” I guess just trying to manage her expectations a little.

  • ” Not to mention this was her second pregnancy with my now ex-husband. The first was a secret, in which she left the baby at the hospital under Daniel’s Law. ”

    You are so lucky to be rid of him. The fact that he doesn’t seem to give a shit that their infant was dumped and he went on to breed her again – yuck.

    Definitely freeze your kid’s credit and discuss it with an attorney. She has this information and it is a matter of time before she uses it to her advantage and screws over your child. Even a credit freeze can’t totally protect the kid, but hopefully the attorney knows the ins and outs of doing so.

    Double-check YOURS as well. It is likely he has shared the information with her. He is just that stupid.

  • I would tell my child that I gave birth to them and I am actively looking out for their best interest. That is why I am Mom, Mama, etc. She is your dad’s partner, girlfriend, wife or her name. Then I would explain that any Man in their life is not their Dad, Papa, etc. Clarify why titles are given in an educational way. Just like a teacher takes care of them in the day but she is not their mom, mama, etc. she has a name and that is why it is used.
    My ex has tried all these shenanigans; they are your family to every girlfriend and woman he brings around. Kids are smart- Stand your ground and give your child the facts in an age appropriate way.
    Just my two sense.

    • This is a great explanation! Thanks. My only concern would be that this could invite conflict between the child and the cheater dad/OW, which is not awesome for the kid. If that were the case, as the parent giving this information I would be prepared to go to bat for my child directly with my ex on this point–take the kid out of the loop entirely in terms of decision making on appropriate names

  • I haven’t read the other responses but I have a suggestion for you. Tell him that he can call her Mama and to call you Mom. The reason that’s going to work is because when he’s a teenager he’s not going to call you Mama anyway, he’s going to call you Mom. You just get a little bit of a head start. Trust me on this. My adult children call me Mom and that started without anyone paying attention. Make sure when you refer to her refer to her as Mama and refer to yourself as Mom. Do it every single time you refer to her right before you vomit, of course. I am being repetitive for a reason. You can win this without ever even frowning.

    • Or just, not. Ultimately this is not something that the writer gets to control, and I don’t think it’s a great idea to “tell” a kid to call you one thing or another–seems overly controlling IMO. She can, however, tell a 7 year old in very simple terms that “it is a little hurtful to me to hear you call XYX mama, but I understand why you do and I admire the way you’re handling this challenging situation.”

      There’s all this focus on the mother’s feelings here, and I get it–she’s the one writing the letter–but let’s consider how awkward or bad or confused the 7 year old kid must feel.

      • This is where people can disagree with the best of intentions. This is a seven-year-old child. He is so vulnerable that a frown from his mother can alter his perceptions. I’m not exaggerating. You need to be proactive in this because he is going to call you Mom anyway. There is no way you can talk to him about this without shaming him. He takes your word for everything. For better or worse this is his father’s new woman. She is going to be in his life. The tragedy of this is in order to make your child’s life as stable as possible you have to swallow a lot of shit. I’m sorry but I really feel like you can’t make an issue of this and have him come out feeling better about things. You are his mother. You will always be first in his life.

  • I’m so sorry OP. That’s such bullshit. I’d talk to a lawyer but also I’d be careful saying that she loves him. You don’t know that she does and I think there’s a good chance she won’t be around in his life forever. Maybe you could say, your dad and I love you. Leave her out of it. I’m proud of you for not reacting. I would have lost my mind. Hang tough, that really sucks.

  • “I am your mama. ”
    Skank ho bag is the mama to your father and hers child.
    Are you OK with calling skank ho bag mama?
    “Well sweet thing, don’t call her mama in front of me please because I’m the only mama to you and that relationship is very special to me.”

  • Deer original mom
    You are seriously one of the best moms on the face of the earth
    I cannot believe you were able to hold it in for that
    You didn’t make your innocent children feel like shit
    You kept it together, seriously amazing given the circumstances – I’m in awe

  • This makes my shoulders go up around my ears. Not to go all “Dateline” on you, but it sounds like OW is grooming herself (and your child) to be your replacement. Check your credit, change your locks, and talk to your lawyer about custody/visitation with a convicted felon. And talk to your son about ignoring anyone who says “don’t tell mommy xyz.” My lawyer included language in our divorce agreement that only the parents were to be called Mom and Dad, and no name changes without sign off from the other parent.

  • I think it’s total BS that the child is calling the ow mama. What you walk past you accept. Your child should know you are not happy with it. Dick head and OW probably banded together and thought how can we hurt original mom the most. We have already taken everything else from her so let’s now steal her title/position as mom. When my daughter who is 7 said she has two moms it was the first time I absolutely lost my mind and said very sternly was “No! You have one mom and that’s me. You have no other moms just like you are my only daughter. Would you want me calling one another kid my daughter (she definitely did not like that) If they tell you to call ow Mom you politely say no thank you I already have a mom. She will only ever be daddy’s girlfriend or daddy’s wife and like everyone else on the planet she has a name you can use”. After ho worker and stbex had their affair for over a year and then moved in together a month over d day I was discarded after 20 years thinking I had a wonderful marriage and family so I will not be discarded in my position as mom. She already has a 2 year old from another relationship and in every action my husband had attempted to erase his old life and has just pressed the reset button with this woman half his age and has created a new family as if his old life never existed apparently it was too grey. If you have a loving loyal wife, beautiful home, a great career I’m told by stbex it made him dead inside.

  • This sucks, sorry you have to deal with it. Good for you for staying as neutral as possible when that shitty bomb went off. I agree with CL that simply stating your feelings to your kid is acceptable, like “it’s a little hurtful to hear you call OW mama, but I understand why you do and I think you’re handling all of this very well.” And, if you haven’t already, let this little shit sandwich usher in the idea that you don’t get to control what goes on over there (without a court order that is). All you get to control is how you react to the things your child tells you goes on over there. The faster you accept this, the happier you will be. As part of this, steel yourself for other equally hurtful bombs that may go on for years.

    CL’s “cool bummer wow” has been a miracle for me in being able to emotionally manage some of the news I hear from my child while proving at least some feedback to her–which, honestly, is what your kid wants. I’m sure your son is totally unsure if what he’s doing it ok, and just wants to get a greenlight or redlight from you on it. These kids gotta figure it out, and they do that in part from our reactions.

    Best of luck and sanity. I’ve only once expressed some discontent to my daughter about something she told me. She confided in me that she gave her dad’s child bride the same mother’s day gift as me, which stung a little (ok, A LOT). Before I responded I sat silently for a minute and collected my thoughts and feelings then said “I’m glad CHILDBRIDE is so good to you that you wanted to get her a mother’s day gift, I love that you have people who love you around you, and that you’re such a thoughtful kid. But, it doesn’t really make me feel special to get the same gift as CHILDBRIDE…and feeling special is what mother’s day should be all about for your old mom.”…she felt bad, then I felt bad, and I kind of regretted saying anything. But, it happened, and I cried like a baby that night after the kiddo had gone to sleep. Shit sandwich.

    • Much love to you my friend. I’ve spent many a night crying over things that have transpired over the years. I’ve always just simply wanted my child safe, protected, cared for and to know that he has a great support system and open communication with me. I received a card from OW to which I replied, thank you but it’s pretty much just handing me a gift that says, hey I know I fucked your husband and tore your life into shreds (thank god at this point) but Happy Mothers Day! At this point after dealing with the personal aftermath of how my ex husband left me, let alone his other past relationships, all I can do is wish her good luck.

  • Please forgive if anyone has previously posted re: child identify theft.

    This is a real problem and your kiddo’s father’s baby momma has a history of financial crimes. Protect your child!

    Contact the big credit reporting bureaus to obtain your kid’s credit report (ideally, your kid shouldn’t have a credit report) and have each bureau freeze your child’s credit indefinitely.

  • I think this is one of those things where truth is needed this is not his mama and dad should not be able to tell him differently. Dad may not be happy he doesn’t call her mama but how many women is dad going to say is his mama? How confusing is that? Her record doesn’t go to say she will always be there. My ex is on woman number 2 and it’s not looking like it will last. He tried to tell the kids to call both women mama. No! Children with narcissistic parents need to learn to stand up for themselves! They did a good job and I was proud they are learning to have boundaries.

  • Since your ex-husband is now living with (and married to!) some one with a serious criminal record, this is a golden opportunity to end your child’s visits to their house and to make your ex’s visits with your child supervised visits only, away from the felonious OW. Talk with your lawyer ASAP about the identity protection concerns, not to mention the bad example they set, and about ending their visitation rights as they presently stand. If the lawyer won’t help you take action, it is well worth getting another lawyer. Child protective services might be able to recommend a lawyer for you. I have seen even loving and stable foster child placements ended abruptly by child services, because the foster-parent allowed a relative with a criminal record to move in with them. At least in my state, they take a criminal record very seriously when custody is being considered, and this has been true EVEN when the relative with the criminal record was reformed and rehabilitated. I don’t think the church-going is going to help them much in court.

  • I’m getting stuck on all the possibilities of why he looked at you…is there any possibility that they (ex +ow) have forced him to use the same term for herself and the real lady?

    I don’t have any sense of the kid’s personality but I don’t think it’s too soon to start teaching along the way about the unholy charade of church-going without repentance and what repentance means in anyone’s life, churchgoer or not. To that end, I recommend the website by the same name, unholy charade.com.

    It’s also not too soon to teach about manipulation and sociopathic characteristics, help him learn what NOT to be and insulate him from those type of people in the future. Sure wish I’d known all the things I know now!!!

    Not that you don’t already have enough on your plate -hug, so disregard if not helpful!

  • From my own experience, I doubt that a court will change a custody order just because the new spouse is a felon. Unless the felony involved children (either victimized children or put them at physical risk, like having them in a home where meth was being produced), then it will not be a factor as long as the perpetrator is currently complying with probation or community service or has completed court required sanctions. My EX chose a roommate who had only weeks earlier been released from prison for armed robbery and conspiracy, and it did not matter in regard to custody. My EX had no relationship with the new roommate beyond having met the person in a bar; my EX could no more vouch for the character and safety of the new roommate than he could cure cancer. It did not go well.

    Focus on what you can control–monitoring of credit and social security and identity documents of your child. Make sure your own financial data is well secured because a con artist might manage to get access to your bank accounts or credit card numbers by manipulating your child. Start teaching your child safe practices about personal information with no references to the OW, so when your kid is a bit older and does start using Venmo or other financial transaction apps, your child will already know that no one but you gets shared access.

  • Dear Mom (of course you are the ONLY mum in this horror story),
    It was difficult to explain to my 2 years old that he only has one mum. He used to tell me he has 2 moms when he was just trying to upset me. And I can tell you that even my 2 years old knew I am his only mother.

    Your son is 7. He knows better!
    In your shoes, I would remind him this. I would let him know that him casting “mother” left and right upsets me.
    About the other issue, I also believe it is paramount to protect yourself and your child. Get legal advise and find support.

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