Updated: March 18, 2014 4:15PM
Did you ever do everything right and it still came out wrong?
Mike was married to Sophie who cheated on him with his best friend Charlie. Sophie left Mike and moved in with Charlie. At the time, Mike and Sophie had two girls, 8 and 10. They were shuttled back and forth between the two homes.
In 2000, a year after Mike and Sophie were divorced, Mike met Traci. She was divorced as well, with two kids, 13 and 20.
Traci says she became the mother Mike’s kids always wanted. “I had birthday parties and allowed sleepovers. I spent hours taking them to doctor, dentist and therapist visits. Sophie used me for all she could get.”
Traci and Mike got married in 2003. “Things,” she says, “started to change. The bond I had with both children shifted. They were no longer loving toward me or wanted to cuddle. They started talking smack about their dad.”
This was quite a change. “Before, the kids had asked to live with us full time because they didn’t like or trust Sophie’s boyfriends, but Mike didn’t want to make waves.”
Then, in 2004, Sophie “swept in” and took the younger girl to live with her because she wanted her mom. “Sophie brainwashed her — those are the counselor’s words, not mine. She’s now 22 and hasn’t spoken to her father in two years. She recently became engaged and when her dad texted her to congratulate her, he got no response.
“The older girl continued to go back and forth between the two homes until she was brainwashed into living with her mother, too. Luckily she still has a relationship with her dad, but she doesn’t let her mom know about it.”
Traci says it all comes down to jealousy. “Sophie was jealous of the bond that the four of us shared. She became increasingly upset over the things we did for the kids. She made them believe that their father was the reason the family was torn apart which is funny because she’s the one who had the affair with Mike’s best friend. She married him, then divorced him, then dated a few more of Mike’s friends. Yet he’s portrayed as the bad guy and I’m white trash. Her words.
“Sophie is depressed and miserable. Never have I been witness to so much hatred and loathing by someone who created the mess herself. The men who come and go in her life realize pretty quickly how messed up she is emotionally. She’s no role model for two girls who were bright and funny and personable. Now they’re timid and shy.”
Traci says the estrangement has been painful “I loved the girls like they were my own. They captured my heart, then broke it. I hope and pray that one day they’ll realize that all the time they’ve missed with their dad was because their mom wasn’t happy. My husband is the kindest, gentlest man you would ever meet and I hurt for the abuse they’ve inflicted on him.”
Traci has a word of advice for stepparents: “Don’t get too attached to the step-kids because a jealous parent can take them away and make your life a living hell.”
Are you a stepparent? How has that affected your relationship with your spouse? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to email@example.com. And check out my new website askcheryl.net.