If there's one thing I wish I could tell LeAnn Rimes Cibrian and Brandi Glanville, it would be: keep it to yourselves.
Or rather, keep it between yourselves and out of the spotlight. "It" being their very public disagreement currently playing itself out on Twitter and as of today, in a gossip magazine.
The tiff initially centered around LeAnn referring to her stepsons and husband as "her boys" and Brandi's response about how they're "hers" and only Leann's "for now," but also includes an interview that Glanville gave to US Weekly today, voicing her concerns over LeAnn's suitability as a stepmom.
Just like lesser-known mortals, each side is succumbing to their ego's need to make their position known and to receive validation that they are, in fact, the more aggrieved party.
Except, unlike us, their words are spread far and wide because they're celebrities, making the conflict seem more dramatic and even more intractable.
Each side has their Twitter supporters, bent on lobbing digital rocks over the castle walls in a show of solidarity. Divorced moms (especially those who have also experienced the sting of infidelity) have united behind Brandi -- and stepmoms (especially those who feel undervalued in their role) have rallied behind LeAnn.
While I'm sure that both sides are very busy, scoping out the current status of the other player's "moves," the bottom line is, this sucks for the kids.
It sucks because the children still have years and years left at home, with two households that are stuck with each other, on their worst behavior.
It sucks because even if they were to ask their parents and stepmom to can it, there's a good chance it won't happen.
It sucks because this conflict is now forever frozen for posterity, online.
It sucks because this concerns their private lives, now available for public dissection and analysis, without their permission (not that they're old enough to give it).
It sucks because all of this venting online lends itself to even more misunderstandings, mistakes, volatility and extreme reactions, none of which helps steer the conflict in the direction of progress or peace.
Who's taking the long view here?
Does either side have a no-bullshit, tell-it-like-it-is friend who's reminding them that this is an argument that neither side can ever win?
That duking it out in public only takes both sides down as the finger-pointing becomes more and more desperate?
That while they may each be having some feel-good moments as friends, family and anonymous, venomous, online strangers cheer them on, they're ultimately modeling some truly awful conflict management skills for the children to emulate when they grow up?
Because honestly, that's the question to be asking here.
It's not, "Who's right? Who's wrong? Who deserves to go down in flames?"
It's "Do I want my child playing out this exact. same. dynamic as an adult? Do I want them easily taking offense where perhaps none was maliciously intended? Acting from a sense of vengeance? Using a chorus of supporters to try and strong-arm and shame the other side into submission? Do I want my child to grow up and become consumed by a web of drama and chaos?"
Or do you want more for them in life than that?
Life in divorce-connected families is hard enough for BOTH sides.
You have instinctive relationships between parent and child clashing with primary, romantic relationships between the adults, no longer aligned in a shared sense of familial purpose. It's all too easy to feel as if there must be winners and losers.
But both women, like it or not, are bound to each other for years (hopefully, since no one ever wishes an additional divorce upon the children).
And just like us, the more they take their issues to the streets, the harder it becomes to resolve their problems.
The more sheepish they would feel saying, "Oops, sorry, I misunderstood. I was overly harsh. I was afraid and felt insecure. My inner tiger took over. I'm sorry I was such a bitch."
The more invested they are in publicly "winning," in proving themselves to be the superior party. The more stunted they stay in their understanding of the other side as simply... human. Fuck-ups and all.
Stepmoms and divorced moms are both afraid of being hurt. They're each trying to find their footing, at times more fragile and vulnerable than they'd care to admit.
Each side wants to feel a sense of competence. A sense of belonging. As if the bonds of love in their families either remain intact or are actively growing.
But it has to happen in the context of mutual respect, humility and stretching to be your best, yes -- even when you have legitimate grievances.
Because the truth is, you'll always have them.
Shoot for that higher vision, Ladies, and you will both be doing right by YOUR kids.
© 2012 Jennifer Newcomb Marine