I always wanted to tape a frank conversation between a stepmother and a Mother. I always had this theory that if we could hear each other, we may think differently about the way we think, act and speak. I am anxious to hear your feedback on the conversation.
This is a personal conversation between me and a friend of mine. For years, we have been arguing about the stepmother vs mother views. My friend, who is remaining nameless, is a divorced mother of three children. I think the conversation speaks for itself. Let me apologize for both of our behavior in that it does get a little dicey. But, it’s real.
After we finished taping, a few thoughts came to mind.
I was amazed at how sensitive we were about everything. It was very easy to hurt our feelings. We were easily affected by any comments made. It was as if our nerves were raw on the subject of our roles in our families and the feelings that people had towards us. Perhaps, this is something that we need to keep in mind. Are all stepmother and mothers particularly sensitive when the subject of our families come up? If so, our words become particularly important. Very little can set someone off. Tread lightly and choose your words carefully. Think about silence.
Our frustration over trying to be understood often led to volatility. Voices get loud on this call. I was so mad and you can certainly hear how mad Mom was getting as well. I was searching for the right words to get her to understand what I was saying. Doesn’t it get down to the core human basic needs? Look at Maslow’s Basic Human Needs Hierarchy as shown in this blog. The need for love/belonging is a basic human need that is third to only the need for safety and basic human pysiological needs. Oprah Winfrey said in her final show that she had learned that all of us really want the same three things. We want to know that we are seen, heard and what we say matters. My guess is that our loud voices were driven by our strong desire to hear the words, “I see you. I hear you. And what you say matters to me.”
You will hear the jealousy raising its green head throughout the call. To her credit, Mom admits that she is happy when the kids speak negatively about the stepmother. She admits that she worries about her status in the family and doesn’t want to lose it. I estimate that many stepmoms will admit the same thing. They like when a child complains about Mom because it makes them feel more important because they feel better about themselves. (Be honest, now) It makes us feel needed.
The answer lies in empathy. Empathy means you can walk a mile in each other’s shoes. Listen to the show and see if you can find room to consider the other person’s point of view.