Sad, but true… the mom and the step mom rarely get along. Why? Insecurities, anger, jealousy and fear. On both sides. Unfortunately, the two usually don’t take the time to talk or get to know each other, so they have no idea how the other one feels and most likely don’t care. Instead, they co-exist in misery rather than co-parent in harmony.
Often times, these feelings tend to bring forth bad behavior or actions. The results of which cause negative effects on all parties involved. The kids suffer, mom and dad suffer and step mom and step dad suffer. If mom and step mom knew they were bringing all this unhappiness on themselves, would they be able to stop?
First, they need to understand why they feel the way they do. I’m no psychologist, but I can give you my personal perspective. I have a little insight from both sides. I am legally a step mom, but my situation is a little different. I consider myself a mom because my three kids have lived with their father and me for the last ten years and their bio mom was only involved for the first four of those years. I gained a lot of wisdom and made a lot of mistakes in the first few years. That’s what I want to share with you. A few of these things may sound familiar.
My biggest fear, when I first became the step mom, was that the kids wouldn’t love me because they didn’t have to. It sounds awful saying that I was more afraid of that than afraid of doing something wrong in raising them (that was number two). So how do you make the kids love you? You need to realize that you can’t. It’s also important to realize that, from a mom’s point of view, you can’t make your kids NOT love the step mom either. Because there is such animosity between the two, they don’t realize that the kids have enough love for both of them. They also can’t respect the love that each of them have for the kids. It’s so sad that something as great as LOVE can be the cause of such harsh feelings.
It’s also important to grow a thick skin. Kids will say things that will hurt your feelings. Kids will do things that will hurt your feelings. You have to know that they don’t do it intentionally. I can remember, when my youngest son was eight years old, he made a clay hand print in school. It was in the shape of a plate and about six inches round. On the front, it said “MOM” and on the back, he had put his name. It had a little red ribbon attached to the top so you could hang it on the wall. That year, on Mother’s Day, he presented me with this beautiful, hand-made gift. I was ecstatic, it was one of the first instances where I realized I WAS MOM. I hung up this beautiful gift, a sign of my new role in the family, displayed for everyone to see. It hung proudly on our wall for only two months. That was the next time his “real” mom came to visit. MY son came to me and asked me if he could take MY gift off the wall and give it to her. As you can imagine, I was devastated. Of course, I said yes and took it down and gave it to him and watched as he presented it to his mother. I then walked into my bedroom and bawled my eyes out. It was probably one of the most hurtful things I had ever been through, but it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t try to hurt me on purpose. He just loved his mom and wanted her to have this gift. Grow a thick skin and know that you can’t take it personally. Don’t be angry with your kids or step kids for wanting to express their feelings to their other parent if they are being sincere. Unfortunately, there are those kids that know which buttons to push. It’s also important to make sure the kids have limits, that they are respectful and honor all parents.
As a step mom, you made the choice to marry your husband and love his kids as if they are your own. That also means that you accept that his ex, their biological mom, will be in your life FOREVER. You should make every effort to have a decent relationship with her for the sake of your step kids and your marriage. Your relationship with this woman will affect your relationship with your husband, no matter how you try to avoid it. If his ex does something you don’t agree with, You think your husband should “do something about it.” You cannot make your husband feel what you feel or react the way you think he should. That doesn’t mean you can’t tell him how you feel, but know that he will handle things the way he sees fit. It’s important to talk things out and explain your points to each other, but ultimately you need to respect each other’s decisions. You may both agree to talk to mom together.
As far as moms go, be thankful that you have another woman who loves your kids as much as you do. Try not to project the hurt, anger or ill will you feel towards your ex husband onto his new wife. If she wants what is best for your children, she takes care of them when they are with her, she makes decisions that are in their best interest and she shows them the love that they deserve, be happy. If she over steps her bounds, have the kind of relationship with her where you can talk to her about it.
We are all human. Again, there are many feelings involved in divorces, parents getting remarried, becoming step parents. Where children are involved, we need to learn to overcome those feelings. We need to always remember that the children’s well-being needs to be the biggest priority. If everyone agrees with this, it may not be easy to put hard feelings aside, but you would all be willing to try.
My advice to moms and step moms… be nice to each other. Try your best to accept and respect each other’s role in the family dynamic. Remember that the same insecurities, fears and other feelings that you have, she is most likely experiencing the same feelings. Be sympathetic and empathetic to one another. If you can do this, I can guarantee that although things will not always be perfect, they will be manageable and you will have a better chance of raising healthy, happy children. Children that will be a blessing to you and will become productive members of society.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. – Psalm 127:3