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'My 7 Year Old Stepson's Bio Mom Tells Him About Her Romantic Drama'

Good for you for recognizing the inappropriate nature of your son's mom's disclosures about her romantic and other drama. As I discuss here, often after divorce, a child, particularly an only or oldest, becomes his parent's confidante.
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Cute 6 years old boy looking through the window
Cute 6 years old boy looking through the window

Reader Good Boundaries writes,

My son's biological mother has been sharing her relationship woes and past issues of abuse with him. Wanting him to hate her ex who is his sister's father. Out of the blue he asked us why we're friends with him, that he's a bad person. I asked him what he had heard and where it had come from. And he proceeded to tell us that she had told him that her ex had hit her, and that she's trying to find the man of her dreams and that he would be a father to him too.

We're the ones with custody and she sees him maybe 10 out of 48 hours every other weekend. His daddy is very active in his life, and he also calls me mommy because I've been in his life since he was 4 months old and have had custody since he was 2 1/2.

My issue is that he's 7 and shouldn't be involved in any way, shape, or form in any of her drama he's a child but yet she still feels that it's ok to talk to a child about adult situations which just leaves him even more confused about her than he already is. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Dear GB,

Good for you for recognizing the inappropriate nature of your son's mom's disclosures about her romantic and other drama. As I discuss here, often after divorce, a child, particularly an only or oldest, becomes his parent's confidante. This blurs boundaries and "parentifies" the child, making them into more of a comforting parent to their own parent than a protected child. Unfortunately, I am guessing that there is no way that you can discuss this with the mom without her taking grievous offense to this and then complaining about you to your son too.

On the positive side (although it is sad), your son's mother doesn't get a lot of alone time with him, so his exposure to her negative and victimized point of view is minimal. She doesn't sound like a malicious person, but she sounds immature, lonely, and it is possible that she has
. The likely outcome of him hearing about her trials and tribulations will be to turn into a guy, in adolescence and adulthood, who likes to find women to rescue, like
. What you can do to ameliorate this is the following:
  1. If your son comes to you with these issues, try to model kind and evenhanded behavior and values. For instance, you can say things like, "Everyone doesn't act nice sometimes. Maybe it is true that your mother's ex hit her, I don't know what happened there. But people can be mean to their wife but also a nice and loving dad. People can be lots of things. Remember the time you [insert behavior here, like "hit your sister"] but you also got her that great birthday present. People don't act just one way, and everyone has good parts."

  • Do not directly contradict his mother, ever, or this will happen and he may turn on you. With the knight in shining armor deal, you can say, "That would be great if your mom met someone nice to date or marry. Thankfully, you already have one dad who loves you very much. Who knows, maybe one day you could have two dads just like you have two moms! Either way, you already have three parents who love you very much!"
  • If you see him suffering from anxiety or fixating on these ideas more than he should, get him into therapy with a warm and skilled child therapist. Tell this therapist everything you told me so that s/he can best understand and help your child. If you have the time and money, you want want to get him into therapy now anyway, for an evaluation of his functioning by an objective professional.
  • Best of luck, and you're doing a great job just by being cognizant of these issues. Keep me updated, and till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Boundaries Are So Important.

    This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

    Learn about Dr. Rodman's private practice, including therapy, coaching, and consultation, here. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.

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