Do you get along with the other mom? If not, why? Have you really thought about this? Would a good relationship with the other mom improve your relationship with your stepkids or your spouse?
In my situation, it hasn’t always been easy, but I love the other mom dearly. She is supportive and appreciative of me most of the time (not always) and tells me periodically. I realize that in most cases that probably isn’t the case. However, she and I have become good friends. She comes with us to our family cabin for holidays and spends most Sunday dinners with us. But here’s the interesting part: we are total opposites!
Her: The Bio Mom
She is a very free spirit and requires a lot of attention from the kids. She has changed a lot in maturity, but in the past she has allowed entertainment that I don’t agree with, let them eat junk food for meals, still uses profanity around them, lets them drink, vape, and smoke in her home, and has been generally permissive of whatever they wanted to do. Having a very clean and organized home is not a top priority for her. She rarely makes the kids clean up after themselves while doing everything for them to a point of enabling them (which might be to compensate for living far away from them for almost 8 years when they were younger). She is a gamer. She will stay up all night with the kids (some now adults) and game with them, even if they have homework or something important to prepare for. She teaches them about a totally different kind of spirituality (far superior to anyone religious, like us, but not us).
Me: The Step Mom
If you’ve read anything about me so far, you know that I’m the super-organized, hard-working, setting expectations, teaching them to make good choices on their own, type of parent. I was always a perfectionst, although I have lightened up with maturity. My brain operates on logic and reasoning, I’m solutions oriented, and I always want to fix things (yes, kind of like most guys!). I have always expressed my concern about their rooms, their grades, their nutrition, their friends…like most moms, but stepmoms are not like most moms. Luckily, there are actually times that the other mom has said that she is glad that I’m teaching them things that she isn’t! So yes, I am quite the opposite of the other mom and I’m not sure we would otherwise be close friends other than the beautiful kids that we share.
I know what you’re thinking: Your “other mom/dad” may not be that gracious, but are YOU?
What Works for Us
The key to our relationship is that we appreciate each other. We try to understand where the other one is coming from. I know that she has had a hard life that has made her the way she is. I can focus on how the other mom is enabling our kids to be dependent on us (for what seems like forever), or I can be grateful that she is making such an effort to show the kids how much she loves them and wants to be there for them, which is good for any kid who is struggling and especially since she was gone for a good portion of their lives. I can focus on how much it makes me look like the wicked one with higher expectations, or I can focus on how she is teaching them totally different things than I am, whether I agree with them or not!
I remember at times when things got tough, I would be talking to her about how hard it was to live in our household and be treated the way I was. With pain in her eyes that was obviously hard for her to hide, she quickly reminded me of how blessed I was to get to be with them every day. I honestly don’t know why she spent the time away from them. She must have been looking for some healing, but trying to see what I had and what she was missing always helped me appreciate it more.
What Doesn’t Work For Us
There were times when the Other Mom got angry with us for giving the kids consequences or not letting them do something that they wanted to do. If we reacted to her anger, it never turned out well. There were times that she got mad and we just didn’t talk to her for a long time until she calmed down enough to talk to us again. These situations tend to become us vs. her/them and aren’t helpful to anyone.
What You Can Do
The following are some suggestions and guidelines for your “other mom/dad”:
- Praise her/him and look for ways to compliment them. Maybe she is wearing a cute outfit that day or you like her hair. Maybe he is good at home improvements or football.
- Tell her/him you appreciate something that they do. Even if it’s REALLY hard. Maybe they make it easy to schedule visitation or maybe they helped with homework when you didn’t have time!
- If the kids are complaining about her or him, stick up for her when you can. I promise this will get back to her!
- It is always good to communicate, but I feel you should be careful in the level of divulging your true feelings. If you are too open and honest about your feelings, he/she will likely get defensive.
- State your intent (I want to resolve the issues between us).
- When one of you is getting defensive, remember or remind them of the intent of the communication.
- Don’t try to make your case or prove you are right.
- Listen to them to try to understand.
The benefits of a good relationship with the other mom/dad will always outweigh feeling frustrated, jealous, and unappreciated.
Reach out any time to share your experiences and let me know what has worked for you. With the many situations I’ve come across I may be able to assist you with your current situation.
Hang in there and know that someone out here knows your struggle and wants to support you!
What is a blended family?
According to Your Dictionary, “A blended family is defined as a family made of two parents and their children from previous marriages. An example of a blended family is a woman with two children from a previous marriage who marries a man with three children from a previous marriage.”
What are common problems and challenges for blended families?
Common problems for blended families include children not feeling loved or feeling left out, sibling rivalry, children manipulating parents, ex-spouses, dreading holidays, vacations, marital problems, finances and discipline (or lack thereof).
Can blended families be successful?
Although many stepfamilies seem doomed for failure, it is absolutely possible for a blended family to be successful. While some situations are unhealthy for everyone involved, many families can be saved if there is a desire to work through the problems
How common are blended families?
Blended families are becoming more common. According to Pew Research 62% of children in the U.S. live in two-parent households and 15% of those are living with parents in a remarriage.