Can You Be Generous Instead of Right?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about generosity.  And wishing we could be more generous to each other.

Websters defines “generous” as :


1. liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish: a generous patron of the arts; a generous gift.

2. free from meanness or smallness of mind or character; magnanimous.

In the context of these relationships, I see it as a small act of kindness.  Giving a little something of yourself that you’re not required to give; that isn’t asked or expected of you.

What does that look like?

For divorced moms, it may look like not slamming your ex when you know his wife is listening, or when talking directly to her.

This is especially true in regards to our active Facebook page.

Do you have the right to tell your story, which includes the good, the bad and the ugly? Of course you do.

But you could also choose a different road. One that isn’t often traveled. You could choose to be generous.

Being generous would mean deciding to tell your story without the gory details. Or it could mean waiting until she wasn’t around or finding a way to do it privately.

It would mean placing her feelings above your own, in that particular moment.

For stepmoms, if you know your presence makes mom uncomfortable, you could ask if she minds if you attend a game or school function.

Do you have the right to show up with your husband? Absolutely.

But it would be generous to take her feelings into account, even if she hasn’t done the same for you.

Sometimes, when you give someone perceived power, they actually let their guard down a little and are willing to give, in return.

And heck, even if she says no – you’ve broken a pattern here. You’re no longer ignoring her wants or needs – Even if you feel completely justified in doing so.

You’re validating her by letting her know you see her.

You might have planted the seed of kindness or at least got her thinking “Huh, maybe she’s not a total bitch.”

These little acts of kindness let the other woman know you’re not out to get her.

You’re not ignoring her.

You do respect her feelings.

So next time the opportunity presents itself, think for a moment. Who am I? Am I generous?

And why should it be dependent on who she is?

Where can you be more generous? What can you let go of?

© 2011 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

(Photo credit: Master isolated images)

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  1. Love your post. I am very careful what I say online (or elsewhere) about my DH, ex, son’s SS, or stepson’s mom.

    Maybe one thing to think about is that we disrespect our children/stepkids when we trash their other parents…….

    Also, I have this little saying I made up, “Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t make it the right thing to do.”

  2. Thanks, Krista! I love that saying. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. So My DH and I made arrangements with SS to stay home and take care of our girls this week, while we are at work. It’s the end of the Summer. No Summer camp or Daycare until school starts beginning September.

    SS forgot that he made plans to go out with his mom yesterday. Calls me to tell me the situation and that his mother would be coming to pick them ALL up to take them out for some time out in the park and icecream.

    I was a bit hesitant. I almost went home to pick them up before she came, but then SS calls and says that the outing had become an event and that his aunt was coming along with her children who are my daughter’s ages and when I spoke to my girls they were eager and excited to be going out to have fun.

    I decided to chill, as I know my kids would have more fun hanging out at the park and getting icecream as opposed to coming to work with me.

    BM emailed me re: the plan and expressed that we could pick up the girls later in the evening if we wanted.

    I had called at about 6:30 p.m. to see if they were ready to go and they begged me to let them stay to watch a movie. I picked them up at 8 p.m.

    They had a really good time. They said that BM was really nice to them and excitedly told me about the park and icecream and their big brothers bedroom. lol.

    Now, you can’t imagine how grateful I was. I bought BM a card thanking her for her act of kindness. This indeed was a generous act and I truly appreciate it. Just wanted to share.

  4. Celisa, that’s beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

  5. This is from a while ago, but I have a question. How do you do this without neglecting your own needs? What if your SDs BM will never want you there? Do you just never participate in your SKs life because BM doesn’t want you there? I try to be kind to BM in the ways I can. I send SD over to her house with baked goods all the time. I gave her a small gift for Christmas. I try to be friendly and kind to her the few times I see her. The problem is she just wants me to go away and has absolutely no interest in my feelings. If I were to ask her if its ok with her if I am there she will say no. I try to be considerate of her feelings. I sit out in the car at pick up time (even though it makes me feel really bad) and I don’t go into her house (except the time I was going to pee in my pants if I didn’t). I know being around me makes her uncomfortable, so I don’t push my presence on her. However, I really want to be at my SDs activities.

  6. Hi Emily, it sounds like you’ve already continuously tried to be generous and she hasn’t responded. When someone is rejected time and time again, we usually recommend they stop wasting energy on it. I suggest you keep being you, being thoughtful and behaving how you see fit, but keep the focus on your family and not on mom. If she chooses to come around one day, great! If not, you can still have a wonderful family life without her “approval.”

    Keep in mind, her problem is most likely not about YOU, but what you represent to her. And all the kindness in the world won’t change that for her. SHE’s the only one who can change that.

  7. I think that is what is hardest for me. I am a person who likes to fix things and I really have done all that I can. Its up to her now and its very hard to just sit around and wait. I have been in this relationship for 2 years now and I keep thinking things are going to get better between us soon. Then things happen and I realized that she is nowhere close to even beginning to work on things between us. It is very frustrating. Anyways, I just joined the forum, so once I get the email you will probably see me there a bit.

  8. Hi Emily –

    It might help to remember that she didn’t pick you. You picked your guy, knowing that there was an ex on the other side of him. But she really didn’t have a choice in all this.

    Because you only have your guy’s side of the story, you really don’t know how things went down between them. You’d probably hear something substantially different from her. I’ve had guys tell me all kinds of things about their divorces, and at this point I take it all with a mountain of salt. The guy may (or may not) really have seen things that way…but usually after some time I find that a more accurate story is buried several stories deep. And also that the guys don’t much want it dug out.

    So there’s no telling why she’s not interested in you. But she has every right not to be interested in you, and not to want to be friends. It may be as simple as the fact that you’re a complication, and she doesn’t want any more complications in her divorce and how she raises her child. She doesn’t want to deal with a third parent. And she doesn’t have to. Not ever, if she doesn’t want to.

    Nor is it something to blame her for, even in the back-door way of talking pityingly about how it’s unfortunate for her child, and doesn’t she care enough for her child, etc. I think that’s a dishonest way to go unless she’s actively causing trouble.

    You have to decide, though, how you feel about having that tension in your life. And you’re in a relatively good spot. You get to decide. A mom who’s getting the hand from a SM can’t walk away from the situation even if she wants to. She’s stuck with that in her life.

    For what it’s worth, my ex’s gf wants nothing to do with me. I’ve made a polite overture and had the door slammed in my face. And I can guess at why, but the fact is I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. She’s just made it clear she doesn’t want to engage, and that’s her right. Is it frustrating that some woman I don’t know is looking after my daughter, yes, very, particularly since my ex has shown pretty sketchy judgment in the past. But unless I hear there’s cause for concern, I’ll shrug and regard her as volunteer childcare, and take comfort in the fact that it could be a lot worse.

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