What all stepmoms should know about divorced moms

In my three short years as a stepmom, I’ve learned some things about divorced moms that I wish I would have known at the very beginning. It would have made my journey SO much easier.

I’m sharing them with you now, in hopes that your ride will be a little smoother than mine.

Keep in mind, there are always exceptions to the rule. There are moms who are open to having another woman love, care, help raise their children, and don’t mind hearing about it. But there are far more moms who aren’t so comfy with that idea.  Some moms will never get there, and some just need time.

1. Whether or not they still hold a torch for their ex-husband, and whether it’s been six months or six years, moms think it’s weird to meet the other woman. Some of these women are angry because they have less access to their ex’s now that you’re in the picture, and for some of them it’s the reality that it’s over.

For others, even if they aren’t holding a torch, it can still be weird seeing the father of their child with another woman. No real explanation needed – it’s just ODD.

This can be hard for stepmoms to understand, because we know how our husband feels about her. But that’s not what she sees. She sees HER emotions and feelings and if she’s not ready to let go, there’s no way she’ll be open to you.

For this reason alone, it’s best to take it slow. If you’ve reached out and got your head bit off, or ignored, take that sign to heart. She’s not ready for you.

Take your focus off her and put it back on yourself and your family. It’s not personal, it’s about her working through her stuff.

2. Moms feel like a bad parent when they send their children off to dad’s house, where another woman, whom they don’t know, will be taking care of them.

It just feels wrong.

This is strange to stepmoms, because we simply see ourselves as an additional person to love and care for our partner’s children. Or at the very least, we’re  just doing what any responsible adult would do when there are children in their home – taking care of them.

3. Moms don’t want to see you at parent-teacher conferences. For them, it’s like letting a stranger in who suddenly wants to make decisions about their children. Even if you sit and say nothing, it’s still an invasion. They might look at you and think “Who are you? You have no right to be taking part in this ritual.”

This can be frustrating for stepmoms, because we  just want to know what’s going with the child so we can better help take care of him. This is especially difficult if our husbands aren’t so great at relaying details.

4. Mom didn’t sign up to co-parent with you. You’re a stranger to her. It doesn’t mean anything to her that her ex has chosen you. SHE hasn’t. She doesn’t want to hear from you about how you’ve disciplined her kids or the “plan” you and your husband have come up with.

In her mind, she only co-parents with him. She did just fine before you came along (even if you disagree), and if you attempt to discuss parenting or disciplining with her, what she’s likely to hear is “You’re not doing a good enough job. Let me take over. Let me tell you how to do your job.” Even though that’s rarely a stepmom’s intention.

Stepmoms often think we have a “right” to share in the disciplining of the children, since we live with them and are affected by their actions.

So, until you have a respectful relationship with mom and she’s given you “permission” to talk to her about parenting issues, keep them between you and your husband and let your husband be your voice.

5. You can be a reminder of what has failed. Often, moms feel like they’ve failed their family. They failed their children. And every time they see or hear from you, they are reminded of that. So go easy on them. Don’t rush them. Give them time to adjust to the newness. Give them time to grow.

6. Don’t tell mom that she should be open to you because “it’s what’s best for the kids.” Even though it IS best for the kids, saying this can put her on the defensive. It’s as if the fact that she’s not ready to work things out means she’s NOT willing to put her child’s needs first. And that will not go over well.

I know that some of this may not make sense to stepmoms, but it’s not your job to understand why she feels this way. Just knowing that she does, will hopefully be enough reason for you to find little ways to adjust your behavior so you’ll be in the best possible position for a relationship with her, when she’s ready.

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Comments

  1. Jacquelyn McGlinchey says

    Hi. On one hand I really like this article and it makes a stepmom think about things, get the other sides point-of-view. On the other hand it makes me mad because it seems like everything is always about the mother and how she feels. How long should a stepmom have to wait for the ex to get over all her ‘stuff’ and realize that yes there is another woman in her child’s life? No, forget that because I do realize that for some women the thought is never comfortable and they will always have a problem with that.. but what about women, mothers, the ex, who needs to realize that her ex-husband-the father- did not disappear after the divorce and has a right to parent his child whether or not he brings another woman into it. A stepmom can tread lightly and be understanding in all things and still have trouble with the ex-wife because of the way the father and the children are treated (and even herself). How much is a stepmom and the father supposed to give before they say enough is enough?

    • says

      Hi Jacquelyn, thanks for your comment! I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and every day I see stepmoms making similar mistakes when trying to forge a relationship with their husband’s ex-wife. This article is meant as a way of saying “Hey, just so ya know, you could be doing more damage then good when trying x,y and z.”

      I completely agree with you, of course a father has a right to parent his children, regardless of the reasons for divorce, but if the stepmom calls up the mom to give her opinion about things, she’s only going to make their relationship more strained.

      And I’m not saying that stepmoms should disregard their own feelings. But the reason it probably seems that it’s always about the mom’s feelings is because it’s usually the mom who won’t accept the stepmom, not the other way around. The mom is the slower one to come around.

      I’m not sure to what you’re referring to in regards to “enough is enough.” Can you be more specific?

      Thanks!

  2. Jan says

    I have been a stepmom for 12 yrs.(22yr.old boy and 15yr.old girl)I have been with my husband for 14yrs. Everthing you wrote make so much sence.But I am dealing with a real wako this women has not moved on 1 bit. I have tried everything!!! We even had her son move in for 3yrs (15-18)were she left everything that had anything to do with her son(cloths,school drawing everthing) in our driveway!!! My husband and I after her last “thing” have not spoken a word to her(3yrs)She drops off her daughter and we bring her home and thats it.It has been a LONG 14years! She has tried everything to keep me out of the picture.By the way she has been remarried for9yrs!!! So I don’t know what her deal is.Because of how she has made this my relationship with the kids is very strained and that sometimes comes between myself and my husband :(

  3. says

    Jan, I know it must be awful, to have that stress in your life, getting in the way of *everything*. The best thing you can do is focus on your marriage. Let her go, let all the negativity go and make your marriage the priority. The last thing you want is her getting in the way of THAT :)

  4. Debbie says

    Yep, I remember not hearing from my ex about our daughter in over half a year, and who calls to ask for her SSN? His wife. I tried so kindly to explain to her that I don’t hear from him about our daughter, and so when that much time passes, I’d like to hear from her father first. It just seemed really out of whack with me.

  5. robinb says

    I hear you, and yes this is how my husband’s ex acts.

    But I was in the other shoes years ago, and I never experienced these things. I was glad my daughter’s dad had a girlfriend, and later wife, as I felt it was important to have a female influence in the home. I honestly didn’t look for reasons to be upset, and I didn’t get upset. I wanted everyone to be happy, fulfilled, and particularly for my daughter to have a great relationship with them and feel loved.

    I was no saint, I like to think this is the NORMAL, HEALTHY response. It is a result of knowing you don’t have control, and trusting in what you’ve taught your child and in God. So even though I accept this is the way ex-wives sometimes feel, I still hold them responsible for their choices and attitudes.

    • says

      Hi Robin, you’re the kind of mom mentioned in the third paragraph! The kind who is open to having another woman love and care for her child :) Unfortunately, not all moms feel that way, or maybe they want to, but struggle with it initially. If there were more moms who were able to be open like you are, we probably wouldn’t need our website! :)

  6. Debbie says

    All I cared about was the smile on my daughter’s face when she went to see her dad, or came back and shared stories. It felt weird at first for his girlfriend to pick up our daughter at first, without her dad there. She just showed up one day, and no one told me it would be just her so I felt really conflicted about it.
    But my ability to put my feelings aside and use my brain, helped me so much. I saw her take good care of her daughter, and knew she would take care of ours. My daughter didn’t cry or act afraid, although she seemed a bit timid at first. However, my instinct was to help my daughter deal so I stood outside her truck and talked with her a few minutes while my daughter and hers sat in cab of the truck watching. I’m not saying it was easy. I just did what I needed to do for my daughter to feel comfortable. By the time they took off, my daughter and hers were smiling at each other and all seemed fine.

  7. Peter says

    I’m a Dad who has equal parenting with my ex-wife, and since I have remarried my wife is now trying to take custody away and move 4 hours away. We have always done everything suggested, giving her space, making huge concessions, being incredibly understanding, but she just can’t cope with seeing us around town as ‘a family’ and I just don’t know what to do. She is upsetting my daughter incredibly, my daughter normally loves her time both with me and with my ex, but now what my ex wife is doing is really hurting everyone.

    • says

      I’m sorry to hear that, Peter. Some women just *can’t* move on. Do you have good communication with your ex-wife? Is she open to a conversation about the effect this is having on her daughter? Do you know what your chances are of her winning custody? How old is your daughter? Also, you can join our Facebook page and get really great advice from both moms and stepmoms! http://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Ones-the-Bitch/89518872066

  8. Kris says

    This article explains my husband’s ex wife to a tee!!!! Seriously!! It’s uncanny. The article helps see into the ex wife’s thought process… but it’s still a very selfish and destructive process! It’s not right and I have a hard time seeing how letting a bio mom just continue on with poor behavior will ever get better?? Does she just wake up one morning and realize she’s been a self-righteous monster for years?

    “4. Mom didn’t sign up to co-parent with you”… this statement alone makes me shake my head and think oh yes she did!! It is my firm belief that any mother who is considering divorce, or getting a divorce should STOP and make themselves very aware of the fact that YOU WILL have to share your child with another woman!! If you’re a mother that assumed that her ex husband will never find another woman to love and just stay single the rest of his life… then she is now facing her rude awakening. When you divorce with children you ARE signing up to co-parent, and with more than just your ex!

    I could see how knowing these things about a bio-mom’s position could be helpful in “dealing” with situations when they arise, but I don’t think it makes a step-mom feel any better when bio-mom lashes out at you, and shows zero gratitude for the things you do as a step-mom. We step-moms do A LOT, and in many cases (such as mine) we do more than the bio-mom. I don’t do it to take her place.. . trust me, I’d much rather her step up to the plate and raise HER daughter.

    Frankly, I see this is a list of all the “selfish reasons” a bio-mom acts a fool… none of the reasons listed here are fair or logical thought process from which a bio-mom has a leg to stand on. I want to be there the day someone stops “babying” the bio-mom and starts being a bit more blunt and saying “hey, the choices you’ve made in the past have gotten you where you are today. Stop worrying about how you “feel” or the things you “hate” and start worrying about doing what “right”! Yet again the step-mom is being told to be understanding, supportive, to redirect her attention… it’s like the bio-mom is the bully on the play ground and instead of telling bio-mom that her behavior is unacceptable and must change in order to continue to play, we just tell the other kids (step-moms) to stay away from the bully) I’d love to find an article where it explains to a bio-mom how the actions in this article is WRONG, destructive, selfish, and downright mean at times.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Kris. This article isn’t meant to justify mom’s behavior. It’s meant as means of giving some understanding behind the behavior. Instead of thinking that she’s some crazy bitch, in her mind, there are logical reasons she acts the way she does. It doesn’t make it right, by any means. But you also can’t make a person change. All you can do is learn how to protect yourself from her lashing out at you, and that’s all about boundaries. You have to set firm boundaries that clearly shows her what you will and won’t put up with. :)

  9. Kris says

    Could you give me an example of what so called “logical” reasons bio-mom thinks she has to feel the things listed above? Maybe that would help…

  10. JenniferJennifer says

    Hi Kris (and Robin)! I think Jenna did a great job of getting inside the head of many moms…. It sounds like your relationship with the mom is fairly contentious and she may not be that involved, so there are probably some mitigating factors in your situation that we haven’t covered.

    While it would be nice to assume that moms should *know* they’re signing up to share parenting with another woman once they divorce (no matter who initiates it), that is just not often the case. The divorce is about creating some distance and separation between the spouses, in an effort to minimize conflict (and hopefully end it, although that is a wishful fantasy). So most moms are focused on the short-term moment, and especially on the effects of the split on their kids.

    You’re assuming that the moms should implicitly understand the contributions the stepmoms are making with the kids and that isn’t often the case either. You have to remember, she can’t *see* into your household. What’s happening there is off stage, so to speak. For many moms, the stepmom is also inextricably bound up with their ex in their minds, so the SM’s efforts may be “tainted” by leftover anger and hurt feelings the mom has with her ex. Doesn’t make it right, but it’s human nature, and we’re all guilty of it at times….

    You might find this article helpful, that comes from the mind of a mom who finds herself with a new woman in her life: http://www.noonesthebitch.com/http:/2011/03/07/what-to-expect-when-you-werent-expecting-a-stepmom/

  11. Kris says

    Hi Jennifer :) I agree Jenna did a good job giving some insight to what a bm is thinking, it’s just hard for me to see the BM’s logic in any of it. I guess I get stuck on that because I understand logic more than anything else. My SD’s mom is involved per say… hard to explain her role without taking a lot of time, but let’s just say 3 yrs ago sd moved in with my husband and I and BM decided she no longer needed to make an effort to be an “active” part of her daughter’s life. This includes seeing her on a regular or scheduled basis, communicating and being involved in problem solving. BM has always been in the picture… just when it’s convenient for her. She wants the title of “mom”, but doesn’t wish to get her hands dirty. Example: my SD has been in counseling for over 2 years now resolving issues of suicidal thoughts, her relationship with her mom, and her parents’ divorce. Back in the beginning of Dec 2010 the counselor suggested that my SD and her BM have a session together. My SD mentioned to her BM several times about her coming down for the session. She blew if off for 6 months. I was talking with my SD one day and suggested she ask her mom again… I told her to ask her in a respectful, but straight forward manner if she was coming to her scheduled appointment and if she said “I don’t know” again to ask her when she would be able to make it and ask for a specific date… surprise surprise bio-mom will be at the counselor with SD next week.

    I know divorces are messy and there is a lot to think about… I can see how the long term effects could be over looked. It is just my opinion that BM’s and SM’s would both benefit from a mother considering the fact that she will be sharing her child with another woman. I realize this is not the norm… but feel it should be. Sadly, my best friend just recently divorced and she has a 5 yr old son. This exact subject is something I brought up to her when she was in the beginning stages. Maybe it would be beneficial for friends and family to start mentioning this too soon to be divorced mothers? As much as the short term effects consume us it is the long term effects that will come back to bite us in the rear… no sense in a BM taking herself down, along with an innocent SM.

    I mistakenly do “expect” that a BM would have some idea of the contributions a sm is making…absolutely… they are adults, not children. If they have raised their children long enough they already know what it takes to raise a child. What makes a BM think a SM isn’t doing everything a BM would do in the BM’s absence? Like stated above… “we’re just doing what any responsible adult would do when there are children in their home – taking care of them”. As an example: If BM is not paying child support and she knows ex and sm have a duel income… does BM honestly believe that sm’s income is not suplimenting what income is not coming from her? This is not rocket science… it’s common sense. There are a lot of things a SM does for her step kids that a BM can be aware of if she takes the time to think about it. But again, BM is so wrapped up in her “personal feelings” that common sense seems to fly out the window along with courtesy. It seems like some BM’s just prefer to “hate” then “appreciate”. I believe that most SM’s would prefer the BM raise her own child then leave it up to the SM. I told my husband once that he and BM are the parents, and it should be me who is the “friend”. My thought process is, if you don’t like not being there to handle it yourself, then make the necessary changes. I understand not everything can be “changed”, but anyone can make changes to get at least closer to their goal. I mean honestly, it’s that what SM’s are being told all the time? How they will benefit from learning to bend and change! In reality it’s more about the BM hating what they aren’t “willing” change. Well, at least in my case, and I’m sure many other’s also. I know BM cannot “see” what’s happening in my home… yet this is also a choice the BM makes by pushing the SM away. Sometimes I think they don’t even want to know what you are doing! My husband has told my sd’s BM of some of the things I’ve done… to include talking with my SD about her strained relationship with her mother and doing NOTHING but assuring SD that her mother loves her and encouraging her to share her feelings with her mother. But it doesn’t matter… she still chooses hate. It’s not that I’m doing anything wrong… it’s that she hates her own inadequacy and it’s much easier to blame me, than take a look at herself and make the necessary changes.

    I know it can’t be easy for a BM to have to share her child, but it can be a lot easier than they make it! By the way… thank you all for your time and allowing me to post. I do wish to learn, and I think I have some new perspectives to look at. Thank you again!

  12. JenniferJennifer says

    Thank you, Kris! I appreciate you trying to broaden your perspective and I appreciate your input as well…..

    Here’s another way to look at it: for whatever reason, the mom is overwhelmed by her life and has chosen, consciously or not, to blow off parenting her daughter. For a parent to hear that her child is potentially suicidal and yet not act on that shows you how incapable she is of reasonable behavior. But if she was once an active part of her child’s life, then chances are, somewhere inside herself, she feels like crap for neglecting her daughter.

    And is so, she may turn that bad feeling about herself around and focus it on you or her ex, instead of directly feeling how awful it is. This is also human nature. Again, no excuses. But sounds like she’s hit her limit and cannot be counted upon as an involved, mature parenting partner. And so you must accept that, handle your negative emotions in response and plan accordingly. Tough stuff and nothing you asked for, but just accepting it head on will eventually make your life so much better.

    Getting back to soon-to-be-divorced moms preparing themselves for another woman! Perhaps you’re underestimating the amount of pain many moms are already experiencing, splitting apart their family. The last thing they need is to imagine a new woman coming into the picture – especially if there’s no one actually on the scene yet! Getting a divorce hits you in your core and it can be really hard to get your bearings and feel solid again. To deliberately envision a scenario where your ex will have an ally who will be in direct and frequent contact with the children is agonizing for many women… and then they eventually get used to the idea.

    I get what you’re saying though…. Maybe part of our *marriage* vows should include a clause about how if we get divorced, each partner retains the right to share any children with their new partner! We might have a fewer marriages that way. ;-)

  13. Robin says

    I raised a child by myself. I’ve been a foster parent to nine children. I reported on court cases for many years. I’ve seen a lot of ugliness, pain and abuse. I have never been so astounded as to see a woman intentionally turn her kids against their father, to fill their minds with hatred and lies out of fear of losing them, to deny them love and caring that other human beings desire to freely give. We can talk about “why” she does this and how she “feels” all day, but it is an insidious form of child abuse that, for whatever reason, is prevalent in affluent communities across our country.

  14. Kris says

    Jennifer… thank you for the insight. What you wrote in the 1st paragraph makes a lot of sense and I’m sure some of it if not all of it is true in this case. I think I have come to a cross road where I can begin to except that she is the way she stop holding my breath. I do not wish for her actions or lack thereof to spoil what good I have in my life. Change has already began, and I’m hoping with the help of this site that change will begin to take off! The BM/SD relationship seems to be getting better, so I feel better about disengaging and letting the parents be parents. Maybe I was way too involved in the beginning… when my SD moved in with us after her dad came home from a 1 yr tour in Iraq I pretty much hit the ground running being a “active” SM. I’m sure BM didn’t like that. but In good faith I could not stand by and watch a innocent teenager struggle so much and just stand by and watch her fall on her face. I felt someone had to do it, and at that time, that someone was me. Honestly, I am sooooo ready for SD’s SM to be the actual mom and not just hold the “title”.

    I do see what you are saying about a soon to be divorced mother and the anguish that can go along with that. How imagining your soon to be ex with another woman, or another woman helping raise your children could potentially just send you over the edge and be too much to handle. But I still can’t help but feel that if the subject was addressed or at least mentioned that it would be a good thing. Maybe best if mentioned in the very beginning when divorce is being considered, rather than during the actual process of divorce. I to have been through a divorce myself, yet I didn’t have any children and it was still awful!! So I can only imagine. Although, I feel there are exceptions in some cases. My husband’s ex actually left him for a man she cheated on him with. This was the 3rd time she’d been unfaithful. She left him, and married this man, taking shared custody of their children and actually becoming a SM to 2 younger children herself! So in my case, the BM deliberately and willingly separated her family for what she thought was for “her” own good. I doubt she was crying in her cheerios or agonizing over splitting up her family… she just simply moved from one family to the next. My now husband was in Iraq at the time, and she had already moved on before my husband even knew what was coming. This BM has experienced 1st hand what being the “other woman” is all about… she to shared another woman’s kids. Therefore I find it hard to find sympathy for her failed response as a mother /BM. She’s always been about being the “victim” no matter what choices SHE has made. Honestly, in my case it just seems this BM should know better.

    There are so many different scenarios out there it’s hard to know what’s right and wrong sometimes…

  15. Sanne says

    Hi! I’m from the Netherlands. First of all; thank you for taking up this subject (and apologies for my bad English). There is barely information about this subject available. My husbands ex-wife is ignoring me and it is true, it hurts. I cannot explain exactly why. Maybe I wish to be acknowledged, but why do I need this from her? My relationship with my husband and my five bonuskids is great. And the kids also show their enthousiasm about me in front of her. I can see it is painfull for her, but I am not capable of ignoring the kids when she is around. I have thought about writing her an e-mail, saying that I’m not trying to take over her roll. But I don’t think this is a good idea right now. Sometimes I worry about the future, what about weddings! Now when we go to a school play for example, and she is also there, sitting close to us or further away in the aula: guess what the kids do? They go and sit on my husbands and my lap! Should I sent them to their mother? It is very difficult… I hope time will heel wounds. I don’t expect her te becom my best friend, but I hope the energy will flow some day…

  16. says

    Hi Sanne, as women, we are naturally “externally motivated.” We could be in a room with 100 people and if 99 of them like us, but one doesn’t, we’ll spend every minute worrying about why that ONE person doesn’t like us, right? Add in the fact that you take care of this woman’s children when they’re not with her and it makes a perfect formula for wishing you had some sort of acknowledgement from her :) It’s perfectly normal and many stepmoms feel this way.

    Without knowing the intimate details of your situation, I can’t tell you whether or not reaching out to her would be the right thing, but I suggest you continue to focus on yourself and your family and do your best to fulfill that need of acknowledgement on your own.

    Be proud of who you are and what you do and congratulate and celebrate yourself often! :)

  17. Susan says

    I would be happy to give you some reasons why the bio mom might feel like her behavior is appropriate. First and foremost, stating that all women considering divorce have asked to have another raise their children is ridiculous. I am divorced and fought tooth and nail to NOT be divorced for the sake of my son, despite the fact that my husband cheated on me. Then when he finally got his “woman” pregnant (5 years later), he decided to have me served with divorce papers at work. He did not ASK, nor consider his child in any of this, he only considered himself. Now, they are married, and I am expected to get along with step mom b/c my child spends half of his life with her. The best part is that my ex and step mom make all the decisions related to my child without consulting me one single bit. They dont communicate with me at all, except for drop off/pickup times. I do everything in my power to communicate with him all the things that my son is involved in, but when my son is with them I hear nothing. When I ask, then I am told I dont have a right to pry. I am not trying to pry, but they are clearly cutting me out.
    I take great offense to the above listed person who said that ANY woman contemplating divorce is asking for the involvement of a step mom. That is not true. In fact, with today’s laws my guess is a great many women did not initiate nor agree with the divorce. So while Kris may be on the step mom side of things where bio mom is not great, she would do wise to understand that all bio moms are not the bad guys. My behavior with respect to the step mom stems from the fact that they were both married people cheating on their respective spouses, and now I am forced to submit my child to her presence. I wholeheartedly diasagree with cheating and yet due to the way the laws are set up, I am FORCED to allow this cheating whore access to my child because she is married to his father. So while your situation may be different, my behavior towards her will NEVER change, I will NEVER accept the presence of her in my child’s life, and she certainly has not earned nor does she deserve my respect.

  18. Kat says

    Thank you so much for this article and this site! I have been turning myself inside out trying to understand the mother in my situation and how on earth she justifies behaviour that to me is so completely outside the best interests of the kids. As a step child, having an ex with a new partner and now a stepmum myself – I thought I understood the whole blended family thing pretty well. I was *shining my halo of self righteousness* as I was being the ‘good one’ and the ex was being unreasonable.
    The articles on here were the first time I got ANY insight into why the kids’ mother is behaving the way she is. Posters above were talking about logic and fairness. Mothers who are greiving the loss of their relationships and the loss of their role as sole mother figure do not have the capacity to deal with this fairly and logically. They are wounded and are coming from a place of deep hurt. There is no place in their hearts for openness and cooperation.
    I can see now where I went so wrong – I was expecting a woman who had just realised her children’s father was not coming back (despite them being apart a year, that was still her hope) and I was saying ‘Hey, let’s do coffee – you need to accept me because that’s what is best for you kids’. No wonder she hates me!
    I have emailed her to apologise for my insensivity. The biggest thing I have learnt on here is that it is unreasonable to expect reason and altruism in the midst of great pain.

  19. says

    You’re welcome, Kat! I’m glad we’ve been able to give you a little bit of insight into the mind of the mom in your situation :).

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. Many of us had no idea what could possibly be behind the *strange behavior* of this other woman. When we know better, we do better. Right? And good for you for apologizing. Regardless of how she responds to you, you did the right thing for YOU. Good luck! :)

  20. Kat says

    Just thought I would give an up-date. I was very surprised a week after I sent the email to TM, to get a response. It was a very concilatory email, with a couple of barbs thrown in (only to be expected I think), and in it she offered information about the kids and routines at her place and said that she hadn’t ruled out becoming friends, but it was difficult when it all first happened for her to be in that space.
    I have since sent an email back thanking her and sharing some things about the kids at our place. I’m not sure where it will go from here, we are due in court next week to sort out a parenting order, but I have far more optimism than I have had in the past year.
    The really great thing is that I sent that email without expectation of a response or a result, it was about making things right from my side and apologising for pain I had caused. Many of my core beliefs about human nature had been challenged during the interactions with TM and it is nice to see that things can change when genuine emotions are exchanged and felt – without judgment and needing to be right.

    • says

      Kat, that’s awesome! It’s so important to go into these situations with no expectations. And it seems like she was receptive to the fact that you apologized for YOU and your role in all of this. In these situations, baby steps are HUGE, so I def think you have something to celebrate :).

      Good luck with court and with continued forward movement! Keep us updated :)

  21. monica says

    Personally, I have found that I am much less vested (right or wrong) in my step-children’s lives because I have 2 of my own young children. I am so busy with raising them and working full time, that I don’t have a lot of spare time to question whether their biological mother is doing a good job.

    If I didn’t have children of my own, I can see myself spending a lot more time analyzing whether the biological mother of my step children was doing a good job… I could also see myself trying hard to fill the role of ‘mother’ in their lives. It must be painful to do a lot of the parenting work without the recognition of mom. If I didn’t have children, I don’t think I would be strong enough to be in a relationship with a man who had children. I tip my hat to you ladies in this situation!

  22. Jen D says

    This site has been really helpful. I’m the biological mom of three wonderful boys. Their father had multiple affairs and is about to marry the woman he was most recently involved with. I’ve struggled with this because like Susan – I very much fought to save our marriage and NOT just for our children, but because I loved him. Ultimately, he chose to leave and I’ve been processing that for a several years and can honestly say that I have grown through this process.

    Currently their future step-mother and I have only met twice and only once in front of the children. For many months, I have been angry with her part in all of this, but I know that my boys suffer from my coldness about her. I can attest that no matter how much I try to seem neutral about her – my 9 year olds get that I am angry about her. And that is my responsibility to fix – hence I’ve read almost everything on this site.

    I would gently suggest that sometimes our intentions/behavior isn’t actually “whacko,” but has merely been perceived as such by the father of our children in order to justify their own choices. In my case, my boys’ dad had to paint me as the worst possible wife to convince her that he wasn’t a bad guy doing something horrible (being unfaithful), but, in fact, a good guy in a bad situation. After I’ve been painted as the “bad wife,” how would you see me as anything else? Let’s face it, if I weren’t crazy, wouldn’t he still be with me? But, at what point are we going to bring the father’s into account for this as well? While I can’t speak for all bio-moms, I can say that any of my (perceived) actions that seemed mean or harsh, we the result of having my role as a mother completely disrespected.

    Of course, I have some ownership of where our marriage ended up, but never once have I not had my boys’ best interest at heart. The same cannot be said of their father. No ugly behavior (especially at the expense of the children is justified – not matter what either party did), but my guess is that some of these moms are just still so hurt, and perhaps not even by their former husbands, that acting crazy is all they know.

    It doesn’t make it right – it only makes it where we are. If we continue to label each other as crazy and selfish (both bios and steps) – then we are only perpetuating to problem. I’m not there yet, but I will be…I will be.

  23. elaine says

    I couldn’t help but respond to the comment about #4 and women who divorce.. for some of us we are stuck with a stepmother we haven’t signed up for because we are dealing with an ex we didn’t plan for….
    When I became pregnant my ex hit the wind and then returned when she was very little. He was welcomed without reproach for the past and has been given an active visitation role. Shortly after came what is now his long term girlfriend. I made the tough decisions and have done the hard work alone and now I adapt and accommodate his partner. I am always supportive of my girl’s relationship with the SM and am always civil and respectful of her in conversation with my ex but I absolutely feel like the BM described above. I think this is a great article to let you know where the BM is coming from since I know I would never say anything about it…

  24. Denise says

    Reading some of the comments here makes glad that there was a no third party interference clause added to our divorce decree. My ex and I agreed before hand to how we were going to raise our children. Step mom is not allowed to: attend parent teacher conferences, use corporal punishment, make any decisions regarding school, health, or legal matters, allow our kids to call her mom and and most importantly, not communicate with me at all about parenting my and my ex’s child. Mom’s don’t sign up to coparent with anyone but dad. If step mom violates any of the clause dad gets it from the judge and can be penalized by losing visitation.

    It makes life so much easier to have the boundaries written out and legal. I don’t have half the headaches with the stepmom as some do. I don’t have have anything against my ex having a new love, but I do have an issue with new love trying to parent my child. Since my main issues were addressed at the time we divorced, I feel more secure about her and our relationship is friendly.

    Stepmom needs to realize that she has no rights to our children (father and mother) and sees themselves as an extra aunt things would be great. You’re not an extra parent. Kiddo has two me ad dad. I’m happy that you help to care for my child when they are with you and that they like and care for you. This happiness will last so long as you butt out of the parenting. It’s not in the best interest of my kid for you or any third party parenting the child.

  25. Wendy says

    Denise:
    How will you react or correct your children’s poor behavior towards the step mom? Is she to put up with rudeness and snide remarks, and you relish in the fact that she cannot defend herself? Are step moms to be pushed to the side when inconvenient but asked to put up with snotty attitudes and feeding your little “angels” when it is convenient? How can you feel good about taking someone’s freedom to feel respected and appreciated?

    I am a step mom to a twelve year old girl. Her dad divorced her mom when she was four years old. The BM cheated on my husband and got pregnant by a married man. In other words, she split up her own family and another family as well. She is jealous and possessive. She got married less than a year after we got married. Like she was trying to prove a point. She has tried to feed her daughter lies regarding her father. She is growing up and asking questions and not believing her mom anymore. The BM is trying to save face by telling the little boy she had from the affair that my husband is his dad. Sneaky and manipulative. My husband has DNA proof (proved in divorce court) that the little boy is not his, and he is NOT paying child support for that little boy. She refuses to change the little boy’s last name.

    How do any of these points justify the behavior of such a wretch of a person? Obviously my opinion (rather low opinion) of this woman is not shared with my beautiful, gentle and sweet step daughter.

  26. Kat says

    As a bio mum I can safely say your article made me shed a tear. Its very hard to bear some of the things Ive gone through with my ex’s new partner… from being contacted out of the blue on messenger with her telling me tjat she more or less hounded my ex for my messenger details befire he gave in and gave it to her without asking me first to the texts messages/emails and criticism about parenting…

    I have even had job advertisements emailed to me with messages saying ‘thought this would help.’

    For the longest time I gave her the benefit of a doubt… I raised my baby without his father for 3 years before she contacted me on the computer… Just before my ex stopped seeing my then 2 year old, he happily annpunced he had a girlfriend and I was estatic because this meant he would get off my back. but bevause his care lapsed and he was busy chatting with her online; he wasnt caring for our 2 year old properly.

    I didnt get any thanks. I did all the hard work from dealing with his speech/hearing delay to potty training to emergency room dashes for allergies to whatever imaginable. Yet she stood there telling my own mother that she (my mother) had done an amazing job raising my baby… what??

    I am at that point 2.5 years after my ex started seeing our son again (@ 5) where I cannot deal with how they seem to gang up on me. Take away my desire to speak to my child on the phone when he is away for long school holidays saying ‘how does it feel now since I didnt get to see x for 3 years…’ or lectured by her for telling my son after they decided not to allow my baby to attend my sisters wedding that I should never of told my child he was imvited as ‘parenting 101 says dont promise anything you cant deliver and my job is to sheild my child from this…’

    Now I have to deal with how they have got my 7 year old saying mummy is crazy since returning from school holidays…

    Its so difficult and I wish it was better BUT it takes three to tango. And I feel ganged up all the time so I clam up.

    Thankyou for your article. xx

  27. nicole says

    Hi ive read this article and it makes a lot of sice but i have a kind of different problem. The ex wife of my husbands two children who are now 7 and 10 has tried to talk to me when we was first dating and wanted to meet me. I didnt feel comfortable because i didnt know if she wanted to talk or fight me along with i didnt want to hurt anything going on with their court case or him not getting to see his children. So i never met her. She never tried to contact me after that but had her family and friends stock and harrass me on social sites telling me i was horrible and he was a dead beat father. My problem is she of the 7 years we have been together we have only been able to see the kids 2 times and i was present on the second time and she and i was civil to eachother and has stated that she is fine with me around the children and has no problem with me but she has not let us see the kids in over 6 yrs she moved and has left us no way of contacting her or the kids. She tells everyone he is a dead beat father and he choses not to see his kids and if he wanted to he could but she will not let us and we have no way of contacting her the only address she gave was to a relitive and they said if we called or came there they would call the law for harrassment and truspassing. Our lawyer has asked me to write a letter to her to the address asking if he could see his children and put nothing negative which i would never do anyways but i have never wrote a letter to an ex or dont know if this would be a good idea. The lawyer said it was so she could understand who i am and my husband and i relationship and asking if we could see the children and how much we care for them since she tried to reach out to me. Im just unsure on what to write because i dont want to hurt him getting to see the kids or make things worse. I personally cannot have children and i see his children as my own and love them accordinally but its very hard for me and him both when we havent seen them in so long do not have pictures nothing they have been to hospitals and we never know. Anything. They dont even know us. She has remarried and they say that they are the parents and they have a father and mother but my husband and i have never had the chance to be in their lives.

  28. Heather says

    Ok. I am bio mom. I have primary custody of our 3 children ages 8 and almost 5. I have had to live my life knowing that my ex was going to be with anither woman because he cheated during our marriage. Am i over him? I was so over him before ourtwins were born. Anyways, i have remarried and we have a kid together and his step kids call him daddy on their own volition. My ex husband is dating a chick who has three kids, one of them she doesnt know who the daddy is anyways, besides the point….my beef with her is that as a mom, she is perfectly fine with the fact that he spends more time and does more things with and for HER kids than his own children. I realize she isnt a step mom yet but they live together so it might happen. How could you be okay with his ditching of his kids? Also, if your kid is violent towards my kids, dont you even dare try putting them the blame on mine. If you can make the ex be more responsible and not as much of an idiot than he is, i like you. But dont think for one minute that just because you have my kids for a weekend you are supermom.

  29. Liv says

    I don’t talk to my husband’s ex. There really is no point. In fact she completely ignored me for the first year… I would always say hello, still do… but really we haven nothing to talk about. We have primary custody of the children, she sees them every other weekend and doesn’t pay child support…. That’s fine, I do not really care but she really has no say in my opinion on if I buy her children clothes or not, or if I go to their school functions or Dr.s appointments… I provide a lot for them, and that’s my choice… but I really do not care how she feels about me. I would never speak poorly of her to the children, as she has told them they are not allowed to like me (which worked for the first two days after they came back home then stopped and has yet to accrue). The kids call me Liv or Livvy, I am no one’s mother and see no point in forcing the whole “mom” thing (which I have read about SM doing and that is nuts too)… I hold no ill feelings towards her, but I do not allow her in my home and I do not speak to her when I pick up the kids (sometimes alone on Sunday). The only person she really has any contact with is my husband and he rarely speaks to her, to my knowledge… and she only calls the children twice a week… I am not sure what is going on in her head, but she doesn’t seem like to woman in your article… And even if she were, why would we have to have a bond or be friends…? You don’t have to be rude but you don’t have to act like you enjoy each other’s company.

  30. Sue says

    I just have to say I’m the bio mum of a boy with special needs (autism and an undiagnosed physical disability). My ex never bothered with our son when we were still together – it is only now that we are no longer together that he actually takes any interest. My son’s father is a serial cheater and I put up with it for many years for the sake of our son. Our marriage had been over way before I started divorce proceedings. At the time I told him to leave he was seeing 5 other woman at the same time and pretended that our son didn’t exist and that I didn’t exist.

    He now lives with one of the women he was having an affair with. She has 3 children – the eldest doesn’t live with her and refuses to have anything to do with her. I have never stopped my ex from seeing our son and encourage him to stay in contact. He rarely takes our son out and usually visits him at my house. I knew when my ex had moved in with one of his girlfriends – simply because I know my ex – but I had to prise the information out of him. His contention was that it’s none of my business who he sees, which is absolutely correct, but when it’s someone that could potentially be part of my son’s life then it is my business in exactly the same way, some months later, that I believed it was my ex’s business when I met someone who was going to be part of our son’s life. Anyway, one day my ex asked if he could take my son out. Without telling my son what he was going to do (or me, so I could have prepared him) my ex took my son to his girlfriend’s house to meet her and her children for the first time.

    As a child with autism, my son found this “surprise” to be extremely upsetting and I suffered the repercussions for months afterwards, and his behaviour at school changed dramatically too. My son then refused to go anywhere with his father without me. I endured “family” days out with my ex, for the sake of my son, during which he constantly slagged off his girlfriend. About 2 months after my ex had moved in with his girlfriend she turned up on my doorstep because she thought my ex was cheating on her with me! Turns out he’d been going to see yet another woman, after visiting our son, and telling his girlfriend that he was late back because I’d kept him talking. We actually got on quite well at this point and she told me all the lies my ex had said behind my back and I told her what he’d been saying about her. She decided that she loved him and was going to stay with him, which was up to her.

    Since then I get periodic abusive texts off her, I’ve been told that she always wants to know what I’m doing, she’s told me that she’d be a better mum to my son than me and she says that I’m using my son to blackmail my ex!! Quite where the blackmail thing comes from I have no idea and I don’t see her doing all the medical appointments or battles to get what my son needs for his disabilities. Although, having said that, who knows what my ex is saying to her? He’s spread lies about me in the past and he’ll probably continue to do so.

    As I’ve said, I’ve never stopped my ex from seeing him, I’ve tried to encourage contact, I’ve done “family” days out and when my ex has asked to see our son outside of normal contact time I let him. I really don’t care that my ex is with someone else – the main thing is he’s not with me and I’m not putting up with his behaviour anymore. My ex thinks that his girlfriend’s children are more important than our son – I’ve actually caught him trying to put one of my son’s X-Box games into his jacket so he could take it for her children. He’s also taken some of our son’s DVDs and toys for her children, without asking. Sure there are psychos out there but they’re not all bio mums! I want the best for my son – like any mum but I don’t tell the ex’s girlfriend I’d be a better mum to her kids than she is – particularly the one who’ll have nothing to do with her. What gives my ex’s girlfriend the right to tell me that and send me abusive texts? The only thing I’m guilty of is wanting the best for my son.

  31. Tamitha says

    @Denise-PHEW! My SD will not run my home. I will not tolerate any nonsense from her that I wouldn’t from my own children (if I had any). I respect the wish of BM and BF to not spank my SD. I would never spank a child who is not mine, and who’s parents are both against it. But BM is worthless when it comes to discipline, because she wants to be the “favorite”, giving SD whatever she wants and letting her get away with murder. If you BMs do your job right, on the same page with BF, then a SM won’t have to do it for you. Trust me, I’d much rather not discipline my SD, but I have every right to run my home in an orderly, and civil fashion.
    @susan-Yes, cheaters suck. Your ex sucks for doing that to you. His new wife sucks for doing that to her ex-husband. Without placing actual BLAME on you, I can only assume that you are SOMEHOW, in SOME WAY guilty of SOME KIND of wrong doing regarding the demise of your marriage. I’m sure you did not do EVERYTHING right. It’s over. It happened. People make mistakes. Having an affair is a HUGE one! I’d be willing to bet that SM in your case is living with a LOT of guilt. You were dealt a sh**ty hand, my friend, but could you maybe bring yourself to take your hurt, and turn it into an opportunity to teach your kids about forgiveness? Maybe look past your victimization to love them enough to allow them to grow up comfortable in each home? You didn’t deserve what your ex and SM did to you, I assume, but your kids certainly do not deserve to grow up anxious and hesitant between homes, in fear of “betraying” you, by accepting SM. They didn’t do anything wrong, and it would be very sad if you let your bitterness cause your children the unhappiness and confusion of picking a side.

  32. Liv says

    @ Tamitha… Love what you said in your responses… it seems that no matter what, there is always blaming and no one want to say “I’m sorry, I forgive and I’ll let go…. so I can be a better me…” no all we do is point our fingers saying how everyone else has done us wrong… my ex cheated, the SM tells my kids “No”… SM’s complain, SF complain, BF and BM complain… when really it’s ourselves who make our own decisions… We are the only ones in control of our lives, once we are adults… and so no one can truly have an impact on our emotions or lives unless me let them which is our fault. Granted there are times when people can take you for granted, treat you poorly, and so on and it isn’t your fault… but usually we put ourselves in positions then complain when we do not get the outcome we want when we do nothing… I always thought my parents should have gotten a divorce.. never held it against them… I do not hold it against my husband… and I hope that my SK’s mother will eventually get over whatever it is that haunts her so she can be a better mother and a better person, for herself and her children. If she taught forgiveness and understanding to my SK, as well as acceptance, instead of hate and manipulation then they would be so much more well adjusted from the divorce. They come home every other Sunday night, so angry, that it takes two days to get them back in the swing of things… The oldest gripping that she doesn’t nothing for him or the others and how she doesn’t even want them there. Why even see them if you do not want them? That’s my question for her… Why did she lay down, spread her legs, and not take her BC properly if she didn’t want kids? Why didn’t she give them up? Is my husband at fault…? Yes, he should have worn protection… but it takes two people to make a baby… TWO, not one. … Divorce is terrible, but you can teach your children how to let go, move on, and forgive when you go through it… you can teach them that there is a life to live after something tragic happens and it doesn’t have to make you bitter… but we would rather wallow in our own pity party than struggle for a while and become better and happier people.

  33. Daisee1203 says

    Hello!
    Thanks for the article…it’s some great things to think about. However, I feel like there are a lot of assumptions being made about a step mom and how we might feel/think. How about an article where you have both perspectives, at the same time?

    When I read the artcile, I got the impression that step mom’s are the ones that want to push a relationship. Or they are the ones that want to take over and step on toes. This is not so with my situation. I never pushed to meet her. I just trusted it would happen when it needed to…she actually pushed it. And I have no desire to be a parent to my future step son…only a guide. I realize I will naturally have an influence on him and I really don’t need to do much except be the best example I can be.

    This article seems a little bent toward having sympathy or empathy toward a birth mom. I am not saying her feelings should not be considered, but it’s rare to find articles on the step mom’s perspective, save for being evil or over eager. While I do feel your website is headed in a great direction, remember there are 4 sides to this story…hers, mine, his and the child’s.

    I look forward to reading more…thanks.

  34. Miranda says

    As the mom(ex wife) I have to say this is the first time I’ve run across a post like this. Thank you for trying to understand how the mom feels and not to cross any line by trying to take over her job. You said it exactly right in my case, I haven’t let go and still hold a torch for my ex husband. I’ve known him for half my life, and with 2 kids together. He was my everything and I still haven’t been able to let him go after 4 years of divorce. I will be honest if it happens or I should say when it happens I know I have to do something to control myself because I will beat the crap out of her good.

  35. Livy says

    Wow, I stumbled across this blog searching for an article that would help to explain a woman in the opposed position. This article does prove a lot of good points, but frankly, my situation is actually the other way around…

    I am the ex wife, who was separated from my ex for a year and a half, before finding the love of my life. I was enthralled by the news of my ex finding a new-wife, for this meant he had finally moved on. At least that is what I was hoping for. However, that didn’t seem to be the case! When he described her to me, his words were “she has very similar traits to you” meaning me! Thus, giving her reason to feel insecure, envious, and a desire to restrain my ex’s contact with his child unless she was present, making visitations less likely to even occur. I honestly felt bad for her, but she didn’t make it any easier to gain my respect or trust.

    Sadly, my child’s father eventually became a total stranger to our son. So much so, that my child developed a fear by the thought of having to go anywhere with either of them. This was due to such little contact and personal bonding with our child. My ex failed to heed my pleas for some serious adjustments to be made, that by a certain point, my child refused to want to see his father, so I kindly asked that they leave us alone period. Yet, I still wonder if they will ever come to their senses. Though I think it’s wrong of her (step-mom), I am aware that my ex plays a big part of it as well. Whenever he is mentioned though, I just tell my son that his bio-dad loves him and just doesn’t know how to show it properly. Thankfully, he loves his step-dad, who accepts and adores him as his very own.

  36. realmom says

    Thank you for this article, it is very true and helpful. I have a child with my ex husband and I am glad that some stepmoms take time to understand us too. I guess some would say I am not nice to my husband’s new wife but my question is why should I be? I am civil but surely do not go out of my way to be friends. I don’t know her, I don’t really want to know her, he chose her and that’s ok but I didn’t. She is not my friend or relative and I dont know her from the back end of a bus. To me, she is just a stranger trying to tell my son what to do- she is no expert with kids or anything, she wouldn’t even qualify to be my babysitter so why, just because he fell for her should I suddenly embrace her? Its all superficial and quite unnecessary. I would never want to take part in raising her kids, why should she raise mine? Yes she will inevitably have a part in my son’s life but she does so as the ex’s new partner and its his responsibility to keep her in check and ensure that she doesn’t become a problem for my son, or me. She chose to marry into this set up so she must adjust to it, not me! Just because you marry someone who has kids doesnt mean you should marry his ex too, keep to your side of the fence!

  37. Robin says

    Interesting how this article renewed interest almost exactly two years later. I re-read my comments and not much has changed. I have enjoyed a terrific relationship with my ex and his new wife for many years.

    I want to say to my husband’s ex, who acts hateful and bitter and just plain ugly, “Don’t you see what this could be like?! Raising children is difficult under the best of circumstances! Why make it harder?” I did experience jealousy this year, however, when my adult daughter’s stepmom was in town and my daughter introduced both of us as her moms, with no clarification. I was glad to be on the receiving end of how that felt (it felt bad) as it told me something about myself; I’m not as impenetrable as I thought!

    I have encouraged my own daughter to treat her stepmom as an equal mom. Because why should my daughter not love and respect the hell out of her, how could that possibly hurt any of us, really and truly? And I feel it will bring out the best in my daughter’s stepmom, which benefits who? My daughter! My emotions did betray me a little that day, however, and I felt ashamed that I felt bad about something I’d always encouraged: her seeing us as equal moms. The human part of me wanted to be recognized, I suppose. I wanted to be a tiny bit more important.

    Keep plugging along ladies. This stuff takes a lot of time and strength, and some of us might not ever “arrive” at peace. But it’s worth the alternative: giving in to the resentment and negativity. That eats away at our insides and makes us age and feel ugly, and I don’t want to go there!

  38. Stacy Garinger says

    I was so relieved to read this post. I am the ex wife who’s son now has a step mom. I accept her (I have no choice) but everything you said is true and I can’t get anyone to agree with me. The fact that it’s just plain ODD. not bad. It’s ODD it feels weird. My ex husband does NOT agree that his wife should NOT come to my parent teacher conferences. I’ve quoted lawyers who agree with me and he basically says tough sh*&. So I’ve decided “they” can go to a parent teacher conference and I will have my own. It’s stupid to have to it. The other stuff I don’t mind. I like her she’s really nice to my son. I just don’t want to share these basic parenting duties with someone I didn’t choose.

  39. Rachal says

    I think all the finger pointing towards bio mom, step mom and ex is hogwash. So many posts on here keep referring to “being responsible adults” but in the same posts the anger and venom still is spewed about another party either step mom or bio mom particularly. Sounds to me that if we would stop investing our energy in the blame game and being competitive over about who has so called “more” to give, all of these poor children would be far better off. Parenting is collaborative and all of us “responsible adults” need to remember this. In a perfect world a blended family should only serve to add additional love and joy into the child/children’s lives, but all adults involved because they are human allow their own emotions to affect this relationship from forming. Notice I said ALL, this is not just simply bio mom’s problem, or step moms problem.

    I had a workable relationship with my ex’s girlfriend for approximately three years, but this drastically changed when they married in December 2013. Now she is making it her mission to try and gain full custody of my daughter or at minimum 50/50. This is the same woman that used to hug me hello and good-bye. The same woman that I spoke to about making arrangements to have the three of our children photographed together annually as they are all sisters. I have two children, one with my ex, and one with my present partner and she has one with my ex. This is the same woman that knows how my ex-husband repeatedly deceived me while stealing money from me to gamble and squandering his pay away at a casino instead of being responsible and seeing to it that he was responsible in helping to house and feed his family. This is the same woman that knows he has never paid the proper amount of child support if he paid it at all because he couldn’t hold down a steady job. This is the same woman that knows I have let all of this go and put my daughters relationship with her father before being difficult about my negative feelings over his failures to help support her financially.

    I have to say, that I wanted that ideal blended family terribly badly for the sake of these three children and this woman has done a complete three sixty. It is difficult now not to become hostile in my dealings with her and him. They have now made me this way and it was all so unnecessary. She is a well to do lady with a very good job and I feel that she has done a wonderful job in helping my ex to get his act together and straighten out his financial situation. Everything the two of them have is actually simply hers, he has inherited it through marriage only and this is wonderful for him. However, when suddenly I become a bad mother because I don’t own two vehicles or my own large home I have to stop and wonder how long you have been plotting all of this and was all of the nicey nice formalities simply a sham?

    Anyways, as a bio mom, I can honestly say I had never felt an ounce of animosity towards this woman until she allowed her true colours to prevail. I know certainly everyone’s story is always at minimum slightly different, but it’s not always bio moms fault that her and step mom can’t get along. The way I see it, it is not my business what they do in their home or with the children while in their care as long as I know their well cared for of course, which has always been the situation on this end. Other than discussing drop off and pick ups and who gets her on what occasion, and arranging appointments, there is really little reason to discuss any other things. I am not a member of their home and they are not a member of mine. We just simply co-parent for the best interest of the child/children in a respectful manner for each other who are all doing their part in providing for the child. At least that’s the why it used to be, the way I wish it still was and they way it should be for all, but it seems 95% of the time, someone must make it difficult.

  40. James says

    It all depends on who (mom or dad) chose to separate & not raise their children together. If it was mom, then she should have no right to be upset with dad’s decisions on who will be involved with the children during his time.

  41. Jennifer says

    Here, here, James!

    That said, while this article describes that bio mom may be harboring unhealthy emotions at the expense of everyone around her, I tend to see unhealthy emotions, mostly, simply as bullying. And bullying that biomom executes by refusing to speak to a stepmom or acknowledge her involvement in her own kids’ lives, I think is just child abuse, forcing kids to take responsibility for their mom’s happiness, which is solely her job.

    Biomom, way more so than stepmom, also has responsibility to make things easier for her own children, especially when she has abandoned co-parenting with their dad, scaring them by doing just that, then making it hard once he’s found someone to help him and hopefully create a more loving marriage than theirs had been.

    I can see NEEDING to deal with this, and understanding that as a first step, but if the biomom continues forever being actually harmful to her own children’s growth in maturity and emotional “intelligence,” I’d love to see some tips for how to work effectively for everyone, around this bully, as I see it. How can you navigate this insecurity, which a biomom who left the relationship and her kids alone, set up herself — what’s effective to help kids (and everyone!) feel okay, and confident as they tiptoe around her insecurity/bullying eggshells? Tips for allowing secure, confident feelings around the bullying actions like stonewalling (refusing to talk) to adults and kids about the elephant in the room?

  42. Sam says

    Gosh I’m so glad I found this page thank you so much! I don’t want to write too much on this as I’m not sure who will see this but it has been such a great help to read your advice and comments that I have thought about and people have already asked.

  43. Anna says

    All very good that and quite accurate. I am sick of seeing the ex wives portrayed as villains. It seems that an awful lot of women do need to feel superior to others. In my case I am the ex wife. I haven’t asked for extra money and put up with too much crap from him as well as infidelities, dating sites and all the rest. Then he found a psycho who has put me through hell. She is so intrusive that under the guise of “just wanted to help” she texts me from his phone after I contacted him to say good night to my child when at their place. That is spot on on the co-parenting. I didn’t sign up to co-parent with another woman. Not a chance in hell. My brood is my brood. No other woman has any right to meddle. All I know is that I never controlled him (that is probably what he needed!) and wouldn’t even think of checking his phone. She is always trying to compete with me while I do my very best not to engage in the competition. No not all ex wives are insecure or bitter or jealous or it would be great if women were not so competitive with others and spared us the crap. Men don’t do that to each other. Far more respect between them.

  44. Mari says

    This advice is great, but does not always apply. I met my husband after he had been divorced for over a year. When we got serious, the mother of his kids asked to meet me. When we met, I said hello, she stared at her feet and that was that.

    She is remarried and brings her husband to conferences, etc. She changed the in case of emergency contact on my stepkids medical info to her new husband. She used to tell them to call her new husband dad.

    Sometimes, if the shoe fits….you can see how some bitter ex wives make everyone look bad.

  45. Jennifer says

    Anna, if your ex spouse is remarried to another woman now living with your and his children, it seems to me that being friendly to her is the wise choice. If you end up forcing your kids to make you happy and watching you dislike her, instead of your urging them to be happy with their stepmom, that is disallowing your kids to be happy in their current life. This doesn’t seem very kind toward the kids, and yes, even that woman as well. It seems better to me to model kindness so as they grow up, they learn to be happy in their life growing up, and to be kind to peers, even peers they do not like. We all need to learn to do that in life, don’t we?

  46. Stact says

    Mari I hear what you are saying but it’s so subjective everyone’s situation. I am a very awesome ex wife in my opinion. I will bend over backwards to be polite BUT the best thing I read on this site was that we ex wives don’t want you coming to my kid’s parent teacher conferences.. I HATE it. I think it’s so inappropriate for her to be there NOW i have to choose to either have the conferences by myself and let them do whatever they want or tolerate here there UGH… I sent her this website and she seemed to understand so let’s cross our fingers at the next one and see what happens. Problem is my ex is a tool and has no clue that she shouldn’t be there… Maybe if I ever meet someone and he comes he will understand but right now the sides are very unbalanced. wish me luck

  47. Tina says

    @ James

    What about women who leave addicts or abusers? Does mom give up her rights to have say in her children’s lives? Or should her kids continue to live in the instability?

    I think this is a great article that has valuable insight. However everyone’s situation is different and should be respected as such.

  48. says

    oh my gosh i’m so glad i found you! funny, it took me moving 2000 miles away from austin tx to come full circle to women who share thoughts and ideas about step mothering right there where i used to live. i lived in austin for 10 years as a married woman then later divorced and single mother. it took me moving to new england to learn what it meant to be a stepmom. and it’s been three years of navigating new sibling dynamics and two houses and ex wives that pick fights. i just found your book “no one’s the bitch” and read nearly half of it last night! i just purchased a copy of Skirts At War and i’m very much looking forward to reading it. thank you. thank you so much… it means so much to know there are others out there and that we are not alone in this bizarre dynamic of relationships. it’s certainly not easy. but love is at the core of it, all around, and that’s what keeps us moving forward.

  49. says

    From the actual mther half of this is a very wrong perception. No wonder the step mithers dont have it figured out if you are reading such misinformation. Thank god step parents have bo rights in the state of Florida.

  50. lauren says

    I realize this article is 3 years old and I’m just now chiming in. I was reading something else and it suggested I read this one so here I am. Some of these statements are very accurate and some are very inaccurate. I have been in both shoes, stepmother and mom, and I see both sides. I know it’s different for everyone, but I really really don’t agree with #1. It’s probably just me because I have been divorced for 10 years and am really indifferent to my ex husband, for me it’s about my daughter and nothing else. He is remarried and I hold no ill will toward his wife. I am actually grateful for her, she takes good care of my daughter and I trust her to be responsible and take care of my child. I trust her 1000x more than I trust my ex to care for her alone!! Now that being said, we did have a rough time in the beginning, but I honestly feel she was the insecure and jealous one. At one point she tried to tell me that I was not to have any contact whatsoever with my ex unless it went through her! She tried to force my daughter to call her “mom” and on more than one occasion called or texted me to “scold” me about how I was parenting. Mind you, she had only been dating my ex for less than a year and she had no children of her own, so how she became the parenting expert I’m not sure… so sometimes the mom starts out accepting and the stepmom pushes her away. That was years ago and I think as time went on she realized that I have absolutely NO interest in my ex, and I’m actually a decent mother to my daughter. I’m sure she still has her thoughts about me but I could care less. As long as she continues to be good to my daughter I’m cool with her.

  51. Anna says

    X wives, in my case. My husband and her divorced 6 years ago. She shows no interest in her children which I end up going to their school meetings in case of my husband’s absence. She doesn’t cook for them and don’t care how they look when they are going to school. We builded a block of flats for them to get income on daily basis because she never worked in her life. What I hate the most is that she doesn’t see the value of education. Her boyfriend moved in with her (he is not working) with his children they r all spending this money and my husband’s kids are complaining about the living condition. The problem now is that the elder son (22 years) is behaving very strange. He comes to our house unannounced lock himself in the guest room and take my clothes and return them when I’m not around. My helper told me about this but I didn’t believe her but I’ve put cameras in that room. I couldn’t believe what I saw. This child has some “vudu” things he does in that room. Dusting my clothes with some powder and left some strange soil and sticks in the drawers. I waited for his father because I was afraid to touch them. I showed him those things but he didn’t believe my story until I showed him the video. I can be called an evil step mom I don’t care. I did everything for kids, treated them like my own but now I feel unsafe with them. The two young ones wanted to stay with us and we were still talikng about that but no. I don’t want those kids in my house again.

  52. Jackie says

    We get so wrapped up in our own problems that we seem to forget about the feelings of others. I like to think of myself as an empathetic person, but still I struggle with this. It’s just too easy to write someone off as a bitch, instead of thinking, “Gawd, her mom’s sick, her ex remarried, she needs a break,”.
    There was a time when I was sure she was the physical embodiment of evil (lol) but… As my husband’s ex gets more and more toxic, I try to remember that her pain is real, and that her sometimes puzzling behavior is caused by variables outside of what I can understand, because I don’t wear “her shoes”.
    Of course, there are ugly circumstances in which finding compassion is more than hard to do. In these cases, we as parents need to take the highroad, no matter how it frustrates us. Kids are way smarter than we give them credit for– particularily in matters of emotion and love. At the end of the day, our children need to feel free to love *ALL* of their family without shame, fear or manipulation.

  53. momof2SMof3 says

    When reading this article and the other about moms understanding SM i was disgusted with all of the people that arent open minded. Me and my husband dated in high school broke up and he has three beautiful children with BM. I tryed to be civil and left her alone. When we first started dating she said she wanted to meet me. We were supposed to get together with my children to let them play and meet. She had purposely invited us to his brothers sons birthday party at a public place just to cause a problem and make me look bad we didn’t go but she had a few items of his that he wanted and she did to meet us at her house. I went and got out of the car to tell her i just wanted be able to get along for the kids. This enraged her and she started calling me dirty names in front of her kids and mine. I walked away and when i did she got in his face screaming and swearing while holding their youngest child.i admit that this i couldn’t have so i chose to go back to her and get her attention back on me. Soon after she attacked me physically. I am not small 170 5’6″ and she is twice my size. Even after this i still keep my mouth shut and say nothing. But his oldest is alway sad that he has to go home. Always saying how mom doesnt care about him. This breaks my heart. When we told him that his father and i were married his response when asked if he was happy with me being his stepmom was yes because now i have a mom that loves me and takes care of me.he is only seven but knows the difference between positive and negative. She still calls me names ever time she finds some excuse to call him or when he calls about taking the kids does anyone have any advice about how to fix my current standing with this woman.

    Thanks confused stepmom and a loving father

  54. says

    #4 #4 #4 #4…. Did I mention #4???? As a mom, I can’t tell you how awful it has been for the past 9 years to have a stepmom who assumed that she was every bit my children’s mother as I, always butting in, pulling my kids out of class without my consent, telling me (and my children) flat-out what a horrible mom I am, threatening to get custody of my kids, assuming she needs to be a part of every parenting conversation. She basically thinks she is my kids’ mom. Doesn’t help that my ex has zero spine where it comes to her. This has been going on for 9 years. No, I do not respond well to that. Not at all. I didn’t sign up for her to have ANY part of raising my kids. None. Stepmoms, don’t assume you are part of the parenting team until the mom has made it clear you can be. That is not your role. Stay on your side of the line.

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