Rimes vs. Glanville

Blended families face many struggles as they work to become one cohesive unit. Amongst the various difficulties that must be overcome is the interaction between biological parents and step-parents. Recently, we witnessed the struggle (via Twitter) of singer Leigh-Ann Rimes and her husband’s ex-wife, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reality star, Brandi Glanville.

Rimes and husband, Eddie Cibrian, were married last April at which time she became the step-mother of two boys from Eddie’s previous marriage to Brandi Glanville. This family had more than their share of difficulties to overcome, and I don’t believe any one expects these two women to ever be friends. However, they do share in a common goal: see the boys grow into healthy, happy adults. Unfortunately, this is not the first time the two women have publicly aired their dislike for one another. It shows how complicated relationships between biological parents and step-parents can be.

For those who are in duel household situations and are struggling to create a healthy, loving environment for your children or your step children, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Focus on the priority
It is natural for all parties involved to have strong feelings towards former or new spouses. While you may not like the other person, it is important to remember where your priorities lye. Is it more important for you to be right, or seen as more valuable and most loved? OR is more important for your children to feel secure, confident, and happy? In some situations, you can not have both. You can’t create a stable, loving environment while simultaneously instigating conflict with the other parent.

Don’t let your insecurities overshadow the child’s needs
At times, we all feel insecure in our parenting. Post-divorce worries can increase when those insecurities expand to include being “replaced” by a step-parent. Most parents feel proprietary over their children. In a blended family, some biological parents may exaggerate this concern into an unhealthy feeling of ownership. They may feel a sense of panic that their children are “slipping away” from them. In truth, no one can replace a biological parent for any child. Your children are, and will always be, your children. That will not change. Your relationship with them is what is important. They want and need your time, attention, and love. Arguing with or worrying over their new step-parent takes away from the energy and positivity you have to give to your children.

Really, don’t let insecurities overshadow the child’s needs
Biological parents aren’t the only ones that feel insecurity. New step-parents often feel concern over what their relationship should or will be with their new step-children. They fear the biological parent will stand in the way of them developing a healthy, loving relationship with their step-children. They often worry about rejection or that the children won’t accept them into their family. All of these are normal concerns. However, when you allow these worries to stand in the way of initiating that relationship, everyone loses.

Keep it to yourself
As I said earlier, it is more than likely that you will have strong emotions or opinions concerning former or new spouses. Not only is it likely, it is normal. The key is not to focus your positive energy on punishing, outdoing, or angering the other person. To that end, it is a good idea to keep your strong opinions to yourself, or at least away from your children/step-children. As we saw over the weekend, publicly bashing other people never ends in any positive resolution. While we may not all be celebrities such as Rimes or Glanville, with the invention and increase in popularity of social media, we are all more publicized than ever before. Publicly posting negative statements, rallying support for your negativity, or venting your hostility in a forum where your children may glean the information is inappropriate.

Undermining another parent who is a part of your child’s life, even in a passive-aggressive forum, will not make your children feel good. This behavior will cause them confusion and worry. They will likely feel torn between parents, anxious about the stability of their family and uncertain where the hostility will lead and what it will mean for them. No parent strives to create these feelings in their child, but that is what can happen when parents focus on their own emotions and forget their ultimate priority…their children or step-children.