Stepfamily. Blended Family.
Stepmom. Bonus Mom.
StepBrother. Half Brother.
Not unlike Pavlov's Dogs we can't help but react with conditioned responses when we hear and use some of these terms. Our reactions may be positive but it seems that they are all-too-often negative.
I began to wonder.
If we were to take more control over our choice of assigned labels might it also change our emotional reactions for the better.
I started wondering this when The Husband began attending a post-divorce parenting group. The group has one very specific rule: when referring to your Ex you are not allowed to refer to them as your EX. Instead Husband must refer to her as his Daughter's Mother.
I think they may be on to something.
Use the term ExWife and it conjures up all the negative and sometimes hateful emotions one might expect. The ExWife label defines her in relation to HIM and their
However call her Cinderella's Mom and it
A more delicate label evokes a more positive emotional response.
Stunned by own insightfulness I began exploring this theory and found that I had unconsciously been applying this practice in my own "step-relations" with a positive outcome.
The first application began with my own StepBrothers. I have two and am much closer with one than the other. The StepBrother I am closer with always refers to me as his Sister and likewise I call him my Brother. The omission of the "step" label has resulted in a much stronger bond between us.
My other Stepbrother was married before our parents got hitched so he was out of the house when I moved in. He and I never developed much of a relationship and we always referred to one another as StepBrother & Sister. Until recently that is when I began calling him my Brother. Now a new bond has developed which I feel is directly related to his new label of Brother.
I want to do what I can to improve my own relationship with
Maybe by giving her a more positive label I can soften my own emotional response to her.
Maybe I can learn not to dread the days when she and I must interact.
Maybe I can learn to