You marry the love of your life on your wedding day. Some women not only gain a partner for life but for some of us we gain a daughter or a son that day. We gain the title of Wife and the title of Step Mom. I think every stepmom out there imagined sitting around the campfire sharing S’mores and stories with their husband ex with the kids. In a perfect world every adult would do whatever it takes to show the children a happy visual of them interacting and blending the family together. If this was more of a reality; well the blogs I am going to write and post wouldn’t be needed. The truth of the matter is that picture perfect scenario can happen and it does happen for some; but for some it takes a longer road to get there; for others it’s a road that can never be built. My blogs will be based off of my personal experiences directly or indirectly and my opinions on them. Every family is different so some might can relate and others might not.
Being a stepmom is more complex than some think. Here you are entering a dual role; you are becoming a wife but you are also becoming an additional parent. What happens when there’s conflict between your husband and the child’s mother?
Once I got married I became my husband other half, his supporter, his partner and his best friend. There’s a sense of protection that comes with getting married. You get this sense of obligation to have your husband’s back and to defend him against any and everything. But I also became a step mom and I became our daughter’s supporter, her role model, her protector and her parent. Now the confusion comes when you find yourself in conflict sometimes directly with the other parent and sometimes indirectly by way of your husband. What do you do? What is your place? I think each family will be different based off of where everyone mindset is at. Because mindsets can change so can the dynamics . As a step mom I think the best thing we can do is establish what’s our position;without focusing on the other parents actions towards each other. Boundaries are important to discuss not to restrict someone but to help facilitate the best outcome for the child(ren). For myself I think it would be out-of-bounds to directly communicate with the mom on things when I am my husband supporter. As a married couple we move as one but it is my husband who has the relationship with the mom.
What happens if the mom disrespect my husband? This is where I see time after time the pivotal onset of ongoing drama. Now don’t get me wrong I understand; but when you become a stepmom you don’t have the luxury of responding the same way you might respond to another woman doing the same thing. I am not saying you “allow it” or there’s no reaction what so ever but there is a different position I think us step moms should consider.
Your place as a wife will always be right beside your husband. Your place as a stepmom sometimes will require you to take a step back. It is OK to do so, it doesn’t diminish your new role nor your love for the child(ren) at all. Always remember going back and forth with the child’s mother has nothing to do with nor for the child; and if your only correlation to the mom is the child; then it is a waste of energy with no true rewards in engaging. Your position should always be about the child and your commitment to being a part of the solution and not an element of the problem. Even if you sound like a broken record always maintain that position. If you find yourself in a situation where words are being said to tempt you into a back and forth; pause and think to yourself ” what do I need to say or do for the best interest of our child” before you say or do anything. It is OK to disengage the conversation if the other person just insist on trying to be negative or point blaming. Anything you need to vent or get off your chest should be with your husband. It is much more effective to spend your time and energy on working out issues with your spouse concerning the child versus trying to do so with the other parent.
Sometimes that person isn’t ready to let go of their hurt or anger. It isn’t in our place to try to direct them out of those feelings nor is it in our place to fact check them or defend our husband. We have to remember that our experience and relationship with our husband will probably not be the same experience and relationship they experience. With that we don’t have the right to tell them they are wrong or their experiences and feelings towards our husband are incorrect. Every relationship creates a different outcome.
We have to get to a place where we can smoothly transition our duel hats of Wife and Stepmom. Some will ask ” so you telling me to give the ex a pass if she steps out of line? ” The reply would be “I want you to realize it is never about her to begin with” it has nothing to do with putting someone in their place or demanding respect. When it comes down to it; it is about putting that child first; and sometimes us stepmoms have to choose to be the hero in the situation and keep it pushing.
Here’s the thing about resolving irrelevant conflicts; almost every time someone has to take a “L” . The question that we as step mom can start asking is Who should take the L ? You or the child? Because someone has to take it and we can fight and argue to make the other party take the L or we could be the hero in the situation and take the L for the child. So what does taking the “L” actually mean. Does it mean to allow someone to disrespect you or your husband? Does it mean to allow someone to lie on you or your husband? Does it mean to let someone test your gangsta? After all you are not the one to be messed with? Nor is your husband!
Well the answer is a little bit more in-depth than a yes or no. So let’s unpack shall we.
First the respect word. I have heard that a lot. Here’s the thing, no one can make someone respect them. I know everyone thinks they deserve respect; and not just any respect but the respect they feel they are owed. The issue with this especially when you are in a not so great place filled with emotions and hurt; respect is subjective. I could think respect is just not cursing at me and someone else respect could be speaking to them a certain way or tone. It isn’t about a mom disrespecting you or your husband. Action and more specifically self-action is important here. First thing that should happen is a sit down with your husband and an understanding of boundaries should be discussed and actions that shall be taken if boundaries are crossed. As a wife it is in our nature to defend our husband. A woman talks sideways to my husband and before she can get out a second word out I am there; present and accounted for interjecting and letting her know what is unacceptable.
As a step mom we don’t have that luxury in dealing similar with the mom of the child, and we shouldn’t. We spend everyday being our husband’s partner and standing right by their side; but sometimes we have to place the step mom hat on and stand strongly behind our husband. We don’t have to speak for our husband. If you are by yourself and the mom speaks disrespectfully – stop before you reply and think ” what is the best thing I can do for our (you, your husband and the mom) child right at this exact moment”. If you still feel yourself wanting to respond on a personal level stop again and pray , meditate do whatever brings you to a clearer mindset. Don’t fall for any setups to get you to engage in a back and forth.
Things like what your husband faults are or emotional outbursts can sometimes make you go into defense mode. Don’t. Smile and speak about the child in a loving manner. Even if all you can remember to say is ” whatever we need to do for the child” ” I want to help in any way to facilitate a good environment for the child” “my only focus and or goal is for the child” to ” that is between you and my husband” Keep that positive mindset. Stay in the lane you created for yourself and for the benefit of your new family. Don’t allow yourself to speak on anything else. This is showing your strength and your love for the child. If there is still negative engagement remove yourself from the conversation; not in a disruptive way but in a calm and positive way. Always remember if your only correlation to the mom is through the child then all your actions and responses should be for the child.
One thing to always remember and you should be able to identify with in your own life; and that’s never to talk bad about a child’s mom. Getting into an argument with the mom can potentially interfere with the relationship you are building with the child. Is it worth it?
Lies on your husband. This one causes the most restraint because as a wife you know certain things and when someone blatant lies on your husband you want to place the S on your chest and defend your spouse with fact checks. Sometimes I think we believe; if we disclose the real deal it will validate our husband or get people to make a new opinion of either our husband or the mom. This is a tricky one because we still need to have our step mom hat on. Bringing out receipts on the mom does nothing but place yourself in the middle of the drama. One of our jobs as a step mom is to try to be the facilitator and stay close to neutral as we can get ; and to always project a positive environment for the child. If you find yourself face to face with the mom saying lies you need to take a “L”. Responding isn’t going to all of a sudden make her realize she was not being truthful nor is it going to resolve the tension. Besides you have to remember that your relationship and perception of your husband is probably different from what her experience and relationship was with your husband. This means that her opinion about your husband will be different. That is OK and it is her right. We can’t tell another woman how she feels and we should be able to acknowledge that. We don’t have to agree but I personally wasn’t around my husband when he had his relationship and marriage so I can not speak on things I do not know. This is why having the step mom hat on is important because the wife hat can cause blurry lines.
Testing your gangsta. OK this was more of a joke but I have seen countless times this scenario: the child’s mother gets loud and goes off on the wife; the wife looks at the child’s mother crazy and say something like ” who she think she talking to ” or ” she got the right one” or something like ” I am not the one” ; then there’s a huge shouting match or even a physical altercation with one party saying ” you never going to see my kids again” or ” I am calling the cops” to “every time I see you it’s a problem”. Sounds like a movie right? It happens a lot. But guess who takes the L? Not the person who got cursed out or beat up. Not the person who end up in court. It’s always the child. The aftermath is normally words being said about the step mom when the child has just began to create a bond with or vice versa words being said about the mom that in return will start to unravel the bond the step mom have created with the child.
As a step mom I don’t have that luxury. I traded in my ego for the best interest of the child. Now no one should ever think a person won’t defend themselves but as a step mom its our job to try to prevent any silly situation to the best of our abilities. Actions can be taken if a mom is just set on creating a toxic environment. You can shorten your interactions with a quick smile and hello and by. I mean a sincere smile and not that smirk with a dose of rolling eyes; but a smile of sincerity towards your love for the child you all are now connected to. Think in that moment of the child and your love for that child and I promise you it makes a whole world of a difference.
Love God! Love Yourself! Love Your Husband! and Love will easily flow to everything else on its own ~A StepMom