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Etiquette for Choosing Between Two Moms

Etiquette for Choosing Between Two Moms

Etiquette for Choosing Between Two Moms

Advice for How to Deal When Your Mother is Asking You to Choose Between Her and Your Step-mother

Advice Seeker :
Dear April Masini,

My parents got divorced when I was young, and I lived with my father and his new wife. I still had a relationship with my mother but became much closer with my step-mother. She took me out shopping, helped me with guy problems, even helped me plan most of my wedding! My mother was always busy when I needed her, and even when she was around, all she did was bicker with me. Now that my wedding's getting closer, my mom is starting to get really upset about my close relationship with my step-mom. She actually told me I had to choose between them! Honestly, I would choose my step-mom in a second, but I have a little brother and I'm afraid I'll have to lose contact with him too. Do you have any advice for me?

Stuck Between Mothers


April Masini's Advice :

Dear Stuck Between Mothers,

No parent should ever ask a child to choose between themselves and a stepparent. Yet, that is exactly what often happens in blended/step-families. If there is one positive thing in this situation, it is that you're lucky to be 30 and not 15, because you have already had the chance to grow and differentiate yourself from your mother, who clearly is very insecure in her role as mother, and is probably insecure in other parts of her life as well.
Make your mother answer her own question. 

You need to put the burden of the question right back on your mother and not engage in derivative game playing or honor the insecurity. 

You should say to your mother, "Mom, you are my mother, and you will always be my mother. Thank you for raising me so that I can find love and happy relationships with lots of other people in the world -- including my dad and my step-mother. I hope that you can find the same happiness in having relationships with lots of people that I know you want me to have, and which I choose to have." (See, the choice is not between your mom and step-mom, but the choice is for you to make as to what kind of person you are going to be.) Combine your relationships.

It would be great if you could all get together once in a while for a lunch -- the mom, dad, step-mom, and children -- to show that the main goal is not separatism, but peace.Don't make this your problem. 

Remember, this is really your mother's problem, and not yours. Your mother needs to make her own life and find her own happiness. If she doesn't, she's eventually going to put the same pressure on you to choose between your husband and her, and even your children and her. Insecure people need a team around them. Secure people live their own lives, and find that they draw people who are like them to them, and disconnect from people who are not like them.