Step-Mom's What advice would you give to the Bio Mom? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 34 Old 06-04-2009, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am recently divorced. My ex left me for his co-worker and they are still together and planning a life together. Despite being devestated by the divorce....I sincerely want to develop a workable relationship with StepMom.

What would you wish the bio mom in your life would have done to make the relationship better? Or what advice would you give?

I am blessed in that she is nice and my children really like her. I have made it very clear to my babies that it is just fine that they like her, fine to love her. That nothing changes that I'm their mom and they are their own people who can choose who to love.

I know myself, I am the hovering, overprotective mother I never wanted to be (haha!) but I do want to try.

Thanks in advance for your input!
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#2 of 34 Old 06-04-2009, 04:21 PM
 
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I would say that you could open communication with her and let her know your feelings (they sound very positive) about having another woman in your children's lives. I would have loved this. Let her know that while it may be difficult, you're trying to be supportive of the entire blended family.

Kudos for the effort!
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#3 of 34 Old 06-04-2009, 04:24 PM
 
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Get yourself into therapy to deal with the huge losses you've suffered, so it doesn't spill out onto the kids, etc.

Live your life and be happy.

Don't take things personally. They are not sitting around going "ooh, this is going to hurt her, let's do this to mess up her life and make her feel bad." (I used to think this about an ex who was cheating on me. It's never true.)
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#4 of 34 Old 06-04-2009, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much.

I am in therapy with a fantastic therapist who I am making great strides with. We appear to be out of the grief process and starting to really live life again.

I do want to reach out but don't know how. Everything is through EX who takes my advances as interference, not trying to be nice (although our relationship is getting more amicable and friendly). I helped the kids make her a birthday cake and small gift -and come to think of it, never even sure if EX gave it to her...hmmm...

but yes, I would like to reach out but am not sure how to do that.
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#5 of 34 Old 06-04-2009, 05:28 PM
 
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i come from a divorced and remarried family. as a child, it was very, very hard for me that my mom and step-mom didn't get along. they spoke badly of each other all the time, in front of me. my advice would be to definitely not do that (it doesn't sound like you are) but make sure your friends and family don't do it either. my grandma still kind of hates my dad and step-mom.

: headed your way, mama. it sounds like you're trying really hard.

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#6 of 34 Old 06-04-2009, 07:43 PM
 
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Keep any problems between you and your ex between you and him. If the woman is good to your kids, encourage a peaceful relationship at all costs. Sounds like you are doing just fine.
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#7 of 34 Old 06-05-2009, 12:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
Get yourself into therapy to deal with the huge losses you've suffered, so it doesn't spill out onto the kids, etc.

Live your life and be happy.

Don't take things personally. They are not sitting around going "ooh, this is going to hurt her, let's do this to mess up her life and make her feel bad." (I used to think this about an ex who was cheating on me. It's never true.)
I love that well said
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#8 of 34 Old 06-05-2009, 09:08 AM
 
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I am recently divorced. My ex left me for his co-worker and they are still together and planning a life together. Despite being devestated by the divorce....I sincerely want to develop a workable relationship with StepMom.

What would you wish the bio mom in your life would have done to make the relationship better? Or what advice would you give?

I am blessed in that she is nice and my children really like her. I have made it very clear to my babies that it is just fine that they like her, fine to love her. That nothing changes that I'm their mom and they are their own people who can choose who to love.

I know myself, I am the hovering, overprotective mother I never wanted to be (haha!) but I do want to try.

Thanks in advance for your input!
It sounds like you're already on the right track. Just be secure in YOUR relationship with your children, and you'll do fine. As long as you let them love her and have a meaningful relationship with her, and don't talk bad about her, then you're good. My stepdaughter's Mother has instilled in her from the beginning that I'm trying to replace her Mother (I really think her Mother thinks I am, though I've never tried to), that my son and I are not and never will be my stepdaughter's family, and that I am this horribly incompetant person who doesn't know how to take care of children, so my stepdaughter's Mother needs to call very often when my stepdaughter is with us, because she "doesn't know if my stepdaughter is okay". My stepdaughter has had some issues because of this and unfortunately, now that she's getting older, it's affecting her relationship with her Mother more than it affects her relationship with me and her Dad. Obviously, you're nothing like my stepdaughter's Mother! You, your children and your children's Stepmother should be just fine as long as all the adults make an honest effort.

It warms my heart to hear a Mother talking about her children's Stepmother like you did. Your children are very lucky to have you for a Mother.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#9 of 34 Old 06-05-2009, 02:03 PM
 
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This can't be easy for you but it sounds like you're really trying to move on in a positive way. I think just by giving your children 'permission' to like her will ease a lot of the stress in their lives. My step children were constantly reminded of how much I didn't matter in their lives (even though they lived with me) and our relationship suffered because of that. Especially with my step daughter. She really had to make a choice, me or her mother, and once she did, our relationship pretty much hit the fan, but at least it got her mother off her back. I walked away because the battle was so unhealthy. She is a grown woman now with children of her own. When she had her first son, we tried again, just to socialize but when mom found out that we were visiting and I was getting to know my grandson, she started freaking out again causing all kinds of problems. It is sad. You are right, you are their mother and no one can take that away from you. You are confident in your role as their mother and you're not threatened by any other relationship they may have in their lives. Good for you. I'm jealous that she has such a good (dare I say normal) bio mom to work with. She doesn't know how lucky she is but most of all your children are SO lucky too. Think of all the additional crap you have just eliminated from their lives. :
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#10 of 34 Old 06-05-2009, 04:16 PM
 
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I don't think you need advice, because you are obviously trying to do the right thing, and that means you can't go wrong.

Since you asked... I think most of our problems came from insecurities.

You are the mom. No one will ever replace you. Ever. If some foolish lady ever tries, I'm pretty sure the kids will rebel, they catch on to those kinds of things. And if you just show genuine interest and kindness to this new woman in their life, without rushing the relationship, and just being patient with how things unfold, you and the stepmom (provided she has an open mind) will find your way. I'm sure of it.

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#11 of 34 Old 06-05-2009, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much for the replies.

I'm not a saint, I swear. And I mean it when I write that I am hovering, over protective...etc. I never wanted to be that mom, but here we are!

I finally came to a place where I realized that I loved my kids more than I hated the divorce and all the deception, heartache and devastation that went with it. Their poor little lives are tough enough as it is. They love their dad so much.

If anything, I worry that Step Mom may not really bond with them. She made it very clear to X that she wasn't ready to play mommy to an aspie 4year old and crazy 2 1/2 year old. Her son is 15 and she's paid her dues thank you very much.

Yet, she is very nice to X and very nice to the kids and that's all that matters.

I just hope as things progress I can continue to be as secure as I am now.
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#12 of 34 Old 06-05-2009, 04:40 PM
 
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If anything, I worry that Step Mom may not really bond with them. She made it very clear to X that she wasn't ready to play mommy to an aspie 4year old and crazy 2 1/2 year old. Her son is 15 and she's paid her dues thank you very much.
She might not want to "play mommy," and that can work out just fine as well. Sometimes not taking on the "mom at dad's house" role can be a great way to avoid conflict and heartache. That was my original intent, and sometimes I think that it would have been better for everyone if I would have stuck to more of an auntie-type role.

But, going into it with that thought process, yet becoming a parental figure made it so that I don't get nearly the emotional closeness that I wish I could but I still have to do the yucky parent stuff (like making her brush her teeth). If I had started this with a different outlook, DSD and I would probably have a better bond than we do today - it just isn't as warm as I'd like it to be. I feel like I was thrown into the mom-type role because DSD was young (2.5 when I met her). The auntie approach probably would have been better if DSD had been older.

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#13 of 34 Old 06-05-2009, 06:24 PM
 
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I didnt read all the replies but i just wanted to say how proud of you i am that you have made it this far. to see past your anger and grief into the hearts of your kids and to know what they need. You are doing awesome working through this and definitely seem to be on the right track.

Katie, Enjoying my time with my love Josh:, kiddos Kendel '01 and Xander '03 and our furry beast Sherman '08:
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#14 of 34 Old 06-05-2009, 06:56 PM
 
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Sounds like you're already on the right track! I'm both a stepmom and a mom to kids with a stepmom, so I have both angles to look at.

I will say to keep in mind that the relationship between your kids and your ex's partner is not only going to be different than yours, but it will take a while to develop. Have patience with her as she is trying to get to know your kids and work out her place in their lives. The best way to be kept in the loop is to keep them in the loop. If you want to know what goes on at their house, let them know what goes on at your house. For example - tell them what the kids did the week before they visit dad (or whatever stretch of time fits your situation) and let them know you're always interested in hearing their observations, concerns, etc about the kids. Then try to be patient when she tells you! It's hard to listen to someone say they think the child may be having a hard time with xyz when you don't see it that way, but the child may act completely different at your house than their house and that's ok - especially in the beginning. Also, I personally try to keep the mentality that no one is WRONG in their parenting (well, within reason), but we all have different perspectives and values. Having that kind of mentality really helps when communicating. It's better to come from a place of "I know you care about my child and I see your point of view - *my* point of view is [fill in the blank]."

I could go on and on and on. We've been working on coparenting with our exes for the past 4 years. It's tricky, but so long as everyone is mostly sane and care about the kids, it's very doable.

Mama/stepmama of 4 goofy girls (7/99, 11/00, 4/03, and 12/08) and co-parent with my favorite husband. We do this stuff - : : : : : :
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#15 of 34 Old 06-05-2009, 10:07 PM
 
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If your child comes home and says something bad about the stepmom, take it for what it is. Kids complain about their parents (incl stepparents) all the time. Your kid is going to have to deal with stepmom for a long time. So make sympathetic noises and listen to complaints, but remain neutral in front of the kid. If you have a real poblem, take it up with XH.

Truly I am thankful every day that my DSD's bio-mom is decent and doesn't try to sabotage our relationship. Divorce is hard enough on a kid without having to worry that mom is gonna be mad if kid loves stepmom.
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#16 of 34 Old 06-07-2009, 12:30 AM
 
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It is really easy to be threatened by the Mom, when you are just the stepmom, so try to keep that in mind.

In my case, DSS's mom and I have always gotten along well. There have been bumps in the road, but I consider her a friend.

I always refer to DSS as my stepson. Even though I think of him as my child, I do that out of respect for his mom- she bore him, she has been the one to mostly raise him, and she deserves the title of Mom. DSS will occaisionally say something to the effect that he has two moms and two dads, and while that warms my heart, and I love DSS dearly, I never say that I'm his mom or one of his moms out of respect for his mother.

This took some explaining, as the only person I was trying to "keep in place" was me.

Trust that this woman has your children's best interests at heart- assuming, of course, that she proves this to be true. This will take time, but once that mutual trust develops, life gets a whole lot easier.

The best thing I can say about DSS's mom is that she has ALWAYS put him first. It has made it very easy to just follow her example. It sounds like you are doing the same for your children, and kudos to you. It is a wonderful gift that you are giving them.

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#17 of 34 Old 06-07-2009, 04:17 PM
 
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I am a stepmom, have been for 10 years. I am also a bio-mom and divorcing, so will likely be in your shoes eventually.

I say your already-existing attitude is your biggest asset in a positive relationship all around. You are a great mama.

I echo the advice to make sure any issues with the children area handled between yourself and your ex. As a stepmom, I always encouraged my husband to consider my point of view, and we would discuss it together, and then he would approach her mother. I would talk to her frequently about things such as pickups and dropoffs, activities, etc., but if there was anything that could meet with resistance my husband worked with her directly.

You are already handling it right, but a reminder to never talk negatively about her in front of your children. It's great that you already know that. And if you find out she is trash talking you, address it with your ex, not with her.

If she is good to them, allow her to be at the children's extracurricular activities. You don't have to sit next to her, or be her BFF, but to just allow her to be there. She probably feels some bond with your children and wants to participate in things.

How does she feel about your wish for friendliness?
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#18 of 34 Old 06-08-2009, 12:37 PM
 
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"If she is good to them, allow her to be at the children's extracurricular activities. You don't have to sit next to her, or be her BFF, but to just allow her to be there. She probably feels some bond with your children and wants to participate in things."

I don't know about this statement..."allowing" her to attend things IF she is good to them. I think that's a bit outside biomom's scope of control, no? I feel that kind of attitude would put this new relationship right into the toilet. Whether or not she attends activities is between stepmom and dad. Biomom shouldn't be giving her permission if stepmom behaves....sounds condescending to me.
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#19 of 34 Old 06-08-2009, 01:11 PM
 
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"If she is good to them, allow her to be at the children's extracurricular activities. You don't have to sit next to her, or be her BFF, but to just allow her to be there. She probably feels some bond with your children and wants to participate in things."

I don't know about this statement..."allowing" her to attend things IF she is good to them. I think that's a bit outside biomom's scope of control, no? I feel that kind of attitude would put this new relationship right into the toilet. Whether or not she attends activities is between stepmom and dad. Biomom shouldn't be giving her permission if stepmom behaves....sounds condescending to me.

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#20 of 34 Old 06-08-2009, 01:27 PM
 
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As a former stepmom, I wish to God you were my biomom.

The biggest piece of advice I could give (which it totally doesn't sound like you need) is to never hate your ex more than you love your kids. That was the root of all of our problems.

That, and I wish my biomom knew that I never, ever, ever intended to replace her. Not even once. I was very much dad's wife; they had a mom and they didn't need another one. I wish biomom could have been more secure in that fact.

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#21 of 34 Old 06-08-2009, 09:51 PM
 
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"If she is good to them, allow her to be at the children's extracurricular activities. You don't have to sit next to her, or be her BFF, but to just allow her to be there. She probably feels some bond with your children and wants to participate in things."

I don't know about this statement..."allowing" her to attend things IF she is good to them. I think that's a bit outside biomom's scope of control, no? I feel that kind of attitude would put this new relationship right into the toilet. Whether or not she attends activities is between stepmom and dad. Biomom shouldn't be giving her permission if stepmom behaves....sounds condescending to me.
FWIW, I saw this as more of "allow yourself to be OK with it" than actually giving her permission.

My own advice: Remember you're only getting half the story (and we're only getting half the story, too). When your daughter says "stepmom showered with me while Daddy played on the computer," it doesn't mean Daddy is neglecting his daughter's care or allowing his wife to do inappropriate things. In my own house, it means "I asked ProtoLawyer to help me rinse the shampoo out because I can't do it well yet and I'm getting uncomfortable with boys, even Daddy, seeing me in the shower."

(Now, that doesn't mean ignore your gut if something seems wrong...it just means be careful about jumping to conclusions based on little information. )

Also, about that "neglecting parental duties" thing--my partner's been on the receiving end of that accusation a few times, mostly for things that just work a certain way in our house. In an "intact" family, people have different ways of dividing the work, and the same is true for a stepfamily. For instance, laundry is handled here kind of ad-hoc...whoever comes across a load pitches it in the washer. I'm not going to sort my SD's stuff out because it's "Dad's job." Segregating stuff related to SD's care would cause way more work for everyone. Also, when SD's mom heard "Proto went to Walgreens to get my medicine" from SD, she heard "Dad's not doing his job." In reality, I was taking care of the prescription so Dad could comfort the sick child.

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#22 of 34 Old 06-08-2009, 10:22 PM
 
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Protolawyer, please tell me she didn't get upset that you were doing her daughter's laundry instead of her dad! Oh my...

My advice would be to never assume she is trying to replace you/undermine you/make your kids love her better than you. I think it is easy to feel threatened by this new woman in your kids' lives (and I would be the first to admit that the thought of somebody else "mothering" my dd makes me a little crazy!), but it seems like you are doing a great job of recognizing that YOU are the mom, and that your kids can have another adult woman care for them, love them, etc. without that diminishing your own relationship with your kids.

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#23 of 34 Old 06-10-2009, 12:05 AM
 
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FWIW, I saw this as more of "allow yourself to be OK with it" than actually giving her permission.
That's exactly what I meant, sorry about the confusion.
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#24 of 34 Old 06-10-2009, 01:35 AM
 
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I wear both hats, I have a 4 year old dsd, and my 4 and 6 1/2 year old dd's have a soon to be step-mom (she has been living with them since December)

Our kids are young, 6 1/2 and 2 4 year olds at our house, and 4, 5, and 6 1/2 at their dads. I stress that my dsd has a mommy, but in our family I do the mommy things, she calls me julie, but when we are all out we refer to me as mommy julie to all three of them, it is just easier. For my bio daughters, they know that i am their mommy, but when they are at their dad's house the family unit there has Rachel as the mommy figure to them all. IMO the kids deserve to be treated as the child of the parents of the household they are at for that parenting time. Major decisions should be made by the bio parents (school, choice of doctor, etc) but when madison is with us she is treated as one of my daughters plain and simple. now, the fact that they kids are so close in age also plays a huge part in the decision to have me in the mommy role for madison and matt in the daddy role for Maia and sage at our house, and the same at my kid's dads, being 4, 5, and 6 just makes it work to treat all the kids the same and to have all of the parenting figures at in the role of a parent.

we are actually on a 9 day family vacation right now (near Branson missouri) and we introduce the kids as ours and as sisters. i have been sending texts and pictures to dsd's mom on a regular basis and i hope, that when my daughters go to disney with their dad and soon to be step mom, they will do the same. They way I look at it is that the adults can hate each other for the adult issues, but the four of us are raising my amazing daughters together and as parents we have a duty to work together to do what is right for the kids. Same with dsd, she has 3 parental units and we need to set adult issues aside when it comes to raising madison!
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#25 of 34 Old 06-10-2009, 02:00 AM
 
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I didn't read all the responses, so I'm not sure if this has been said. This is the advice I'd give my DH's ex if I thought she'd listen ^_~. I'm still hopeful that the day will come when her and I can speak comfortably.

Be open, and continue to persue a friendly relationship. You don't have to be close or anything, but friendly and communicating is good. This is the right path, don't let your Ex discourage you, he'll come around.

Listen. She'll be around your kids a lot, and what she see's might help. (My DSS1 has Aspergers and I'm the one that noticed his Seasonal Depression symptoms. We haven't diagnosed this, but now we make sure he gets out in the sun more and it's helped a lot.) Her opinion should never be the end-all, be-all, but it should be taken into account.

Kids lie and/or misunderstand. If they say something strange, talk to an adult before you get too upset.

Something as simple as, "You aren't allowed to have too much junk food, you'll get overwieght." can turn into, "Step-Mom says I'm fat!"

Even if she wasn't looking to "play mommy" her instincts will be there, and she's likely to become attached. You -should- be able to trust that their best interest will be at the heart of it. She obviously doesn't want to replace you in your kid's lives, I'll bet she'll be pretty accepting of a relationship with you.

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#26 of 34 Old 06-10-2009, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much again for all the replies.

As for now, I have no contact with her whatsoever. I am open to it, she is not. In fact, they take the kids out of town and dont' even let me know. (I sent a nice email asking to please just give me a heads up)

I can only hope that someday she will communicate with me and that it will be positive. I am 100% committed to being amicable.

Is it wrong to want to know what they do when they are not with me? I mean, my son has Asperger's, my daughter food allergies and reflux. I update my X almost daily with cute anecdotes, how they are, how they feel, what they enjoyed doing that day, etc. I hate just hearing random toddler type stories when they come home. I can't make sense of it and wonder what is real and what isn't.

I know I have to get over that part. But they are so young...

Anyways, thanks again!
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#27 of 34 Old 06-10-2009, 09:30 PM
 
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I'm a stepmom and one of my best resources has been my friends IRL that happen to be biomoms whose kids have stepmoms. One friend of mine in particular is someone whose general judgment I respect and whose parenting style I would like to emulate. It is great to ask her her opinion on a variety of issues etc. She does not know my DH's X so it is neutral. It enables me to take the high road and treat my DH's X like I would treat his other woman I respect. So if you come across a gal IRL that you like and happens to be a stepmom - cultivate it.
Of course this forum can do the same thing for you, but I think that a living breathing person in your life can be really helpful. Truth is, blended families are way hard across the board and it can bring out all the little pieces of yourself that aren't the best example of who you try to be. Advice from the other side (IRL or virtual) can help you keep your bearings.

HW (40) DH (46) DSS1 (14) DSS2 (11) DS (3) DD (5/5/2010)
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#28 of 34 Old 06-10-2009, 09:42 PM
 
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And a comment on your last question about wanting to know what is going on when your children are not with you...
It is perfectly natural for you to want to know these things. I can't imagine how hard it is for you to be separated from your babies.
On the other hand, in the particular case of my family, if X was "updating DH almost daily" back in the early days I would have felt she was trying to keep her relationship with him alive and I would have considered it very unwelcome. However, families situations are all unique.
I would try to depersonalize it. Say you suggest to your X that an "anecdote & incident" notebook be passed back and forth that all "caregivers" can jot things down in. Could make a nice keepsake as the kids grow and will help establish boundaries about the type of info that each side would like to exchange. This may not be a good option in your case, but I would suggest you be creative in conveying that your interest is in information about your children and not an attempt to interfere in their lives. Good luck!

HW (40) DH (46) DSS1 (14) DSS2 (11) DS (3) DD (5/5/2010)
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#29 of 34 Old 06-12-2009, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HoneybeeWaterfall View Post
And a comment on your last question about wanting to know what is going on when your children are not with you...
It is perfectly natural for you to want to know these things. I can't imagine how hard it is for you to be separated from your babies.
On the other hand, in the particular case of my family, if X was "updating DH almost daily" back in the early days I would have felt she was trying to keep her relationship with him alive and I would have considered it very unwelcome. However, families situations are all unique.
I would try to depersonalize it. Say you suggest to your X that an "anecdote & incident" notebook be passed back and forth that all "caregivers" can jot things down in. Could make a nice keepsake as the kids grow and will help establish boundaries about the type of info that each side would like to exchange. This may not be a good option in your case, but I would suggest you be creative in conveying that your interest is in information about your children and not an attempt to interfere in their lives. Good luck!

Thank you so very much for this.

I send the updates pretty much just like I have their entire lives. The reason being that Dad works massive hours but is a good Dad. He usually loves to hear all the cute stories. Now that we are divorced, and that I have primary custody, I honestly feel for him that he misses out on the day to day little things. He was always very involved in nighttime/early morning parenting. I'm trying to keep him invovled as much as I can. Hearing from so many Dad's that their ex-wives prohibit contact, respect and information. I do not want to be that ex-wife/mother.

I think I will bring up the notebook idea. It could take pressure off of both of us and make X more comfortable, I think.

I have yet to meet a RL Step-Mom or Bio Mom that handles divorce/blended family in a way that I would want to emulate.

I have no desire whatsoever to keep any part of our relationship alive. However, I do have issue with X's almost refusal to answer emails/written requests about important matters such as schooling, scheduling, medical issues and the like. He IS their father and has not only a legal right but a responsibility to contribute to decision making. They are his kids too - but this is part of his passive aggressive crap. I need to stop writing about this part now.

I will try the notebook and update you!
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#30 of 34 Old 06-12-2009, 10:33 AM
 
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It should be part of your separation agreement for mom and dad to inform each other where the kids are at all times.
I am extremely impressed with you!
I wish my stepkids' mom were open to a relationship with me. PErhaps guilt is behind her reluctance--she doesn't want to look you in the face?
I wrote a letter to my stepkids' mom a number of months in my relationship with my now-husband, inviting her to check me and my place out (the kids were staying at my place b/c his was so small), and saying how cooperation between us would help the kids, etc, but received no response. That was about 7 yrs ago. Aside from a drunken phone call where she weirdly gave me total responsibility for her kids' happiness, I have not had a conversation with her beyond exceptionally brief small talk.
Usually she doesn't even say hello back. She is angry, and always will be. SHe can't talk to her ex-husband either. She doesn't hide any of her animosity from her kids. I am polite when I am faced with her, but I no longer go out of my way to say hello. It's sad b/c it could have been different.
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