Guest Post: What Makes a Bitch?

By Kat Kernohan

It’s easy to dismiss a stepmom or divorced mom we are in conflict with as simply being a ‘bitch.’

In one simple word, we can shift all of the blame and responsibility for the conflict situation on to them – because they are the one at fault, they are the bitch.

The irony is, of course, that mom or stepmom is probably busy calling us the same thing and laying the blame entirely upon our shoulders, also letting themselves off the hook!

So what we are left with is two people, completely abdicating responsibility for a situation because of a label.

What a powerful word!!

Isn’t it incredible, that just by invoking the word bitch, we can set aside all conscious thought of whether our actions and thoughts are reasonable, balanced or even remotely fair! By labelling the other party, we KNOW that by default, she is unreasonable, unbalanced and definitely unfair.

How is this working for us?

Does that dynamic assist us in resolving our conflicts — or does it serve to entrench us more deeply in our positions and shore up our assumptions that we are right and the other is wrong?

If we were to explain to someone why we weren’t the bitch – how would that go?

Would we carefully explain that we are simply acting out of concern for those around us, that we truly believe our actions are in the best interests of our children/colleague/spouse or whomever we are defending – and ‘getting our bitch on’ for?

Is that really so different from what the person we have labelled is doing?

If we look inside our hearts, do we really think that person’s sole aim in life, their major objective, is to make us miserable? Or can we shift outside of our own reality for a moment and acknowledge that the reasoning behind their actions is probably very similar to ours?

We want to defend and nurture those we have responsibility for and love. When we see someone acting in a way that we perceive threatens that, we often react – sometimes aggressively; sometimes without any thought of where the other person is coming from.

Very often, the agendas of both parties will be similar; it’s just how those agendas manifest that is in conflict.

So how about next time we leap to the conclusion that someone in our lives is a bitch – we take a step back. We ask ourselves what we think it is they want, what is behind their perceived bitchiness? Are they simply trying to protect them and theirs? Is your agenda being perceived as a threat to their world and those they love?

If we are able to take a moment and give the other person some credit for being a caring human being with their own integrity, we may find that they are not the bitch we thought they were, they are simply someone like us – doing the best they can, for the ones they love.

© 2012   Kat Kernohan    All Rights Reserved

Kat Kernohan is mum to 7 kids, a gorgeous mix of his and hers aged 19 to 3. She escaped to rural life with her new man, and together they do their best to help their great kids grow into fabulous adults. She writes under a pseudonym (Life Aligning – coming soon!), as she figures her kids have enough to deal with living in their crazy family, without everyone they know being able to read about it too.

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  1. Well….

    You really really want the ex and the new wife to get along. Which makes sense. And you write, “And yet we cling to the idea that stepparents or the new girlfriend is an anomaly, an intrusion.”

    Here’s the problem: They are.

    Nobody has children hoping that someday, another woman she’s never met before, hasn’t approved, may not approve *of*, and may not like will be raising her children. Influencing them. Teaching them.

    Nobody. And especially nobody has children hoping that someday, her husband will cheat on her with some — that’s right, bitch — and that said bitch will then be raising her children, influencing them, and teaching them. After destroying her life and ripping apart her children’s family and lives.

    Nobody wants this. Nobody hopes for it, nobody likes it. It’s almost universally galling.

    If a woman is lucky, when she divorces, she’s a grownup who’s on reasonably good terms with her ex-husband, who’s also a grownup, and responsible with the children. I do not see that this is by any means something a woman can expect.

    If she’s even luckier, the woman her ex-husband marries is nice, secure in herself, not so man-needy that she’s anxious to bat the children out of the way in order to secure attention to herself, and has a host of other virtues: is well-educated, is talented in some regard, is socially aware, and understands that children are expensive in many regards.

    If the ex-wife is even more fantastically lucky, the stepmom will not be the variety who’s wooed the children in order to secure the man — intentionally or not, it doesn’t matter — but once she has her own child really kinda wishes those stepkids would vanish along with their mom.

    I’m trying to think of any mom/stepmom combos like that of my own acquaintance. The only one I can think of…well, the kids from the first marriage are about five years younger than she is, and she was 30 when she married.

    I think what you’re looking for is commendable. I also think that it’s idealistic to the point of fantasy for most families — and that in the end, the basic conflict pertains. The mother’s first interest is her children. The stepmom’s first interest is her marriage. These conflicts can be negotiated *if* all parties involved are sane, secure, and grownup, but not resolved.

    I’d love to get along with my ex’s gf. Unfortunately, he’s certified mentally ill, like disabled mentally ill, and she’s…a 40-year-old 17-year-old, apparently. Neither of them is interested in cooperation. Counselors who’ve seen him in their offices have advised me to take my daughter and move, if I can, and limit her exposure to him, but in any case to learn strategies for parenting without any cooperation from him or the gf, and in the face of adolescent game-playing that, naturally, hurts my daughter most.

    On the other side you get stories like a stepmom friend’s: her husband’s ex is an alcoholic. He doesn’t know what he’s bringing those kids back to after visitation, and the mom can throw a wrench into my friend’s life at any time simply by failing to stay on the wagon. The horrible irony? Her own dad was an alcoholic, and she vowed never to get involved with one. So this is damaging to her in all kinds of ways — professionally, emotionally, in her personal life.

    I really commend what you’re doing in seeking peace like this, and I’m glad your deal works out so well. I just wish you guys would be more realistic about what’s out there instead of talking as though your situation is realistic for the many. It’s a little like listening to childless yuppies from wealthy families talking about how everyone should be saving a third of their incomes for retirement — and can!

    As for me: You all have convinced me never to put “stepmom” on the resume. Girlfriend, yes, fine. But — thank goodness — I’m not looking to marry again, and I’m just not interested in becoming a mother to a child who already has one. Nor am I interested in stepping on other maternal toes.

  2. Daisy Duke says:

    ALL the talk they do is just that.
    Walking the talk takes a completely different level of awareness and consciousness.

  3. Interesting perspective, but a bit naive. Some people truly are corrupt bitches… What about them? My ex’s father is worth about $60 million, and used his money to attack my employer sabatosaging my work. She claimed my kids were suicidal to try to take full custody when our mediator was sick. She lied about every financial aspect of the case and is currently up on perjury charges. She’s violated every custody order blocking communications and interactions with my kids. She lives in a large house in the hills driving a Mercedes while I live in a crappy place trying to survive the injustice system.

    Some people, many as I am coming to find, are fundamentally bitches. These are the people that can not see beyond their personal issues to follow the mediators which are appointed to protect our kids. The ones that lie and use expensive laws trying to “win” a divorce, rather than seeking true justice.

    I sought only to pay my fair support and spend time with my kids… A reasonable position. Yet through this process have learned our kids are for sail via incompetent judges who sell the children to the wealthy and corrupt parties in the divorce case.

    I work with three other fathers faced with much the same history… One of which is in formal bankruptcy from his situation. Our justice system is a joke… Put the bitches back to work and fix the courts which are burying the fathers then questioning their value to the kids. It is one sick system….

  4. Wow, Mac. Seems like you experienced the low of the lows. Although I have to say, the word “disordered” comes to mind more than “bitch” does. Have you seen this reform on lifetime alimony?

    Im not sure if this is similar to what you’re what referring to, but I’m glad to see change is happening.

    I agree, the system seems broken in many areas. I hope you’re eventually able to go back to court and get a fair judgement.

  5. Hmmm… I don’t disagree and I really like the optimism of this article but you suggest “Are they simply trying to protect them and theirs? Is your agenda being perceived as a threat to their world and those they love?” But isn’t part of NOT being a bitch rising above that, not dragging others down or trying to purposely hurt someone else simply because you feel insecure? The ex wife in my life was absolutely horrid to me from day dot – before I’d even met the kids, spoken to her or given her anything at all to judge my agenda. Yes I can see that it was all based on insecurity, jealousy, feeling threatened perhaps. But if you lash out at someone purely for those reasons and nothing else – doesn’t that essentially make you a “bitch” by definition? I didn’t want to use my own example here and sound like I’m just venting but I guess it’s what I have to use to explain what I mean, which is not being a “bitch” is about treating other people with compassion or at least acting like you’re a mature adult and not using your insecurities as an excuse for treating other people horribly – and this goes both ways.

  6. Why does divorce occur? Generally speaking. Quite often, because someone becomes an addict (alcohol, drugs, sex), or has an affair, is irresponsible, uncaring, selfish – a myriad of reasons. Both my husband & I are divorced. We both are the responsible one of our previous unions. I am not judging. I am stating a fact. We married young and carried the financial weight, the responsible weight of our previous marriages. We both have custody of our children – because of the inability of the other parties to carry their portion of responsibility. It is what it is. And we know many many many more people who’s marriages have come apart because of life situations, one responsible, one unable to be – than two equal adults parting equitably, without conflict or hurt. It would be utopia for all if divorces occurred under those circumstances, but generally – they don’t. So, that leaves angry people. That leaves 2 people afterwards trying to STILL raise kids together, apart – when they couldn’t raise them together. Enter a 3rd (or 4th…) persons to the mix. It’s ripe with conflict. Kids trying to grow up, find some stability. Adults trying to grow up still, find their own stability. Yeesh. Yeah, I’m a bitch sometimes. Even to my own kids. Definitely to my ex husband. And have been as well, to my new husband and step kids. But it’s reciprocated. It’s called humanity. The bio mom in our lives has chosen to not participate in the kids lives. So I step in and do it. Without authority, without regard or respect some times. But I do it and sometimes, I’m fuming behind closed doors with my husband over her behavior. But I choose to not be the bitchy stepmom, who my stepkids will only hate if they see my crappy behavior – because they are loyal and love their bio mom. As it should be. They came to the world, unasked, without choice, to a mother and father, who they naturally love. The parents have blemishes. They love them anyway. My job is not to point out the bio’s faults. I chuckle to myself as I read through this because I’m willing to have the greatest, strong, non bitchy relationship with bio mom but instead, she’s unable to. Until then, my husband and I remain committed to our family, our children and do the work together.

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