As many people will tell you, getting a divorce might be one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life. But once the dust has settled and both parties have moved on with new partners in their lives, that’s where things get complicated, especially if they have small children that are involved. After all, your child will go from having two parents to three and in some cases, maybe even four. It’s a huge adjustment for everyone involved, and that’s why it’s almost imperative that everyone gets along, too.
But as many people know, it’s not always that easy to get along with a woman who might look or feel like your replacement, even though that’s not the case at all. A lot of mothers don’t want to share the responsibility of taking care of a child with another maternal figure in their lives. If that weren’t enough, the second mom, or “step mom” is also in a tricky situation herself: she wants to be involved, but at the same time she doesn’t want to overstep her boundaries.
Here are just a few ways that you can coexist with your kids’ stepmother, even if it feels difficult.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
First and foremost, accept that change is hard. Ideally, this is not a situation that anyone wants to be in, including your own child. Everyone’s lives will change, now that there’s another person involved in the decision making. Know that no matter what happens, you will always be your child’s biological parent and that should their be any issues that arise, it will be up to you and your child’s father to resolve them. Also, keep in mind that your child will learn how to love and respect their stepparent, especially if they have a good relationship with honest and open communication. And while there might be some difficulties, it won’t last forever.
Focus On Expressing Your Needs
In other words, don’t attack. Don’t accuse your child’s stepmother of any wrongdoing as it will escalate a disagreement, but instead just focus on expressing your needs and feelings. But then again, put your needs, not wants first. Also, remember that it’s your child who will need the most love and affection and above all, consistent rules in their lives. Also, avoid using your child as a messenger or go-between between his or her father and their new partner. Speak to them directly and make sure that the line of communication is always open.
Remember that stepparents do not generally have the authority to give legal consent to medical treatment for a stepchild unless they are legally adopted by their legal guardian. As their mother, you still hold all of your rights as a parent, as long as you cooperate with your ex-partner. If you want to make sure that everyone is on the same page, start with some ground rules. Know that you are still your child’s disciplinarian but at the same time, the new step parent shouldn’t be a pushover. Everyone should set up a base level of respect.
Reach Out To Her
This might also seem very difficult, but do your best to reach out to her. A step family or a blended family can also be considered a bonus family. Your child will now have several adults to look up to as role models. Also, try not to take everything very personal. If she is good to your kids and respects your position as their mother, eliminate any venom or hatred that you might have for her. Often times, a mother can feel very jealous, especially if she thinks that another woman might be stepping inside her territory, especially when her family is involved. Unless she gives you a reason to be concerned, don’t be concerned.
This might be very tough, but if you want to do what’s best for your child and your relationship with your ex, don’t say a word, especially if it comes from any negative thoughts are feelings you may be harboring inside. Instead, speak to a professional therapist. After all, this is a completely new situation for everyone, and all parties involved are trying to navigate this new ground with very little help or resources. In theory, everyone should be coming together to help your child succeed and thrive in his or her life. Many mothers and stepmothers will agree that there is nothing more important than respecting each other.