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Ruh-roh, therapist said this

ITB2012's picture

I'm not quoting directly since I cannot remember exactly how she said it but it's 90% this: "In step familes the kids are usually going to come first."

It was an aside to a different topic so I let it go at the time because I wanted to complete the topic. HOWEVER, I will be bringing this up at the next session to see exactly what she meant. If she means "sometimes the bio is gonna have to take care of a need over a spouses want" then we're fine. If she means "it's okay for the bio parent to ditch the spouse whenever a kid or the other bio parent snaps their fingers" then it's time for a different therapist.

I have a bad feeling about this.


strugglingSM's picture

Does this therapist specialize in couples' counseling or is she a family therapist? 

If she's a couples' counselor, then I think she's bad at her job. Couples need to work to build a strong relationship and sometimes that means the spouse comes before the child. Unless the child is ill or has some other unique issue, their needs typically can wait. 

If your DH is providing for his children financially (not over the top, but making sure they have the basics) and keeping them safe, he is doing his parental duties. Parental obligations above and beyond keeping a child alive and teaching them to be a respectful and productive member of society, are relatively new and not necessary for children to thrive. 

If she's talking about not spending your money on vacations with your DH leaving the kids to starve, then okay...if she's talking about how you can never do anything as a couple because the children will feel left out or because they might decide they want something from your DH, that's not okay. 

When DH and I saw a counselor - before I switched to having my own counselor - she pushed me to articulate what things I needed from DH and what the issues were with SSs. She challenged me about what I thought life was going to be like married to a divorced dad, but she never told me the kids would have to come first. In fact, she pushed DH to make our relationship a priority and in her individual session with him, she told him that he would drive me away if he didn't work at creating a partnership with me and building and holding strong boundaries with BM. 

If the couple isn't strong, the family isn't strong. I also think that most divorced dads are probably a bit clueless when it comes to being part of a strong couple or they wouldn't be divorced dads to begin with. 

shamds's picture


this could be cheating, abuse, dysfunctional partners and families and people growing apart. The separation and divorce is enough to make parents vindictive and we’ve seen here regularly about pas tactics being used over and above the priority of nurturing a child and fostering a positive relationship with their family.

so now you have a divorce, kids growing up in dysfunctional homes with dysfunctional people and not always positive role models. They’ve learnt to manipulate mum and dad to get what they want. 

What happens if bio mum is pathetic and not a positive role model. What the kids need to see is how a normal functioning relationship works. Otherwise the cycle of dysfunction continues because they see whats happening currently as normal.

so no skid wants don’t supercede a spouses wants. If we have a priority, that takes precedence over a child snapping their fingers.

the best thing a parent can tell their child sometimes is “NO”

Letti.R's picture

Your therapist is an idiot and clearly has no idea of the dynamic being dealt with.
Dont waste your money on someone who has no subject matter knowledge or is biased (and wrong!), please find a new one who actually knows what you are dealing with.

(Please excuse me, but my first reaction to your therapist was: what a dumb twat...!)

WalkOnBy's picture

My fabulous therapist, Jeanette, is a SM and when DH and I worked with her, she was instrumental in getting him to understand that being a COD or having a SM (or SF for that matter) was merely a fact of life and not a chronic condition.

People like your therapist, who have the "in stepfamilies, the kids come first" bullshit mentality drive me nuts!  We don't say that in families of origin, the kids come first, do we?  Pecking order, regardless of first, second or three hundreth marriage is as follows - adults, kids.  Done.

ESMOD's picture

Yeah.. I would have really wanted to step in there at the moment she said that and come back at her with a 

"Hold the Front door... what do you mean that stepkids will usually come first???"

Now, I understand that a bio parent's "contractual commitment to the child via a support order and custody agreeement" are not generally things that can then be negotiated with their new spouse.  They have to pay what the order says.. and for the most part.. custody is when the custody order says it is.... and that parent needs to do what is necessary to abide by those orders.

But "should" or "will" come first?  In general.. a child's needs come first because it is the parent's obligation (both of them) to provide for the needs of the individual that they brought into this world.. if they messed up and brought a child into this world with a lunatic or crappy parent.. then their obligation to the child may end up being bigger than the other parent will take on.  Adults should be able to take care of their own NEEDS.

So.. then it's on to the triage of wants and preferences... kids may come out on top sometimes.. but so should a person's significant other.. and shoot.. sometimes neither will win as the person themselves will put their own need as the priority.. and even further.. sometimes other people.. bosses/employers.. friends.. relatives will have situations where their interests take precedence.  ie dad misses the ball game cause he has to work.  

I would maybe even be likely to want to have this conversation with the therapist before your next session.. so that you can spend the session on what you need to work on.. and not pay for exploring the therapists views.

Dovina's picture

You need a therapist who has had experience with step families, and understands the couple is the priority. Kids first crap just raises entitled brats, and teaches them to have little respect for the spouses.

I had a therapist (PAST TENSE) who I later found out was a SD. I related to her all the 'mini wife" examples my adult SD displayed. She told me to "date myself" (her words) and stand back when it comes to DH and SD. Why would a married woman need to date themself?? I would have stayed single if that was the case. That their relationship is carved already , and expecting to be by his side when the SD was around (for example at events or functions) was overstepping my role as a wife. I am talking about events where spouses are invited. 

Needless to say, I have found a "real" therapist who has guided me to be assertive in my rightful place as a wife.You need to find someone who does that for you!

Best of luck


justmakingthebest's picture

I do agree that after divorce the parents are more Kid-centric. I also think that it is just bad parenting and leads to unhealthy relationship modeling for the kids.

My concern would be if the believed that kid-centric was a good thing. Thankfully my DH and I don't take that stance, neither does my ex and his wife. BM however... 

I think that if she is just stating that this is how things are for most divorced/blended families- fine, but is she going to help you guys figure out how to NOT be one of those and actually have a successful and thriving marriage? 

strugglingSM's picture

In my case, BM appears to have become more kid-centric, but really, she just uses the kids as pawns to try to extract attention from DH. When SSs are with her, she regularly leaves them home alone while she and her husband go out. They are home most weeknights and also on weekends, unless they are staying with friends. Despite that, she still acts as if DH is the worst husband in the world and totally abandoning his children, if he and I ever attempt to do anything on our own when they are around. 

ITB2012's picture

I don't want to dump her yet. I want to have the conversation with her. Because, if she does believe in a kid-centric second family scenario, I want to lay out for her why it doesn't work and that it drove me to find mental help and hope that it at least gives her pause the next time she has a client who is a stepmother that it's a HUGE factor in their lives and to stop being dismissive.

She is disturbed (not call CPS disturbed, but parent-wise disturbed) by some of the things I've told her about how DH has handled the skids but we shall see what she says when I go into more details and bring up things I told her in the first session.

ESMOD's picture

I might try to have a conversation with her before the next session.. so that you don't waste valuable session time... and can more clearly convey your POV without others in attendence.

ITB2012's picture

And I'm gonna go to the session. I'm paying for it. If it goes south, I'm paying her so she 'gets to' sit and listen to me.

DH won't go to counseling unless we go together, he only hears things that tell him he's right, and I don't want to go to counseling with him until I've gotten out/through what I want to discuss.

Aniki's picture

Ermagawd! It's people like that who make me read Therapist as TheRapist

Fire this fool!