One of the hardest aspects of being a stepmom is having to co-parent with your spouse's ex, regardless of whether or not the two of you get along. This means being the bigger person, making sacrifices, and also letting things go. None of which are always easy, but, it does not mean that you can’t do it. Remember that your role as a stepmom is important, and your decisions affect not only you, but your husband, stepchildren, and possibly your own bio-children. Many of you have recently expressed your concerns over parenting schedules being changed or birth moms being unreasonable. Therefore, I am going to dedicate this post to those of you who are struggling with a high conflict birthmom. Grab your glass of wine (or maybe Kombucha), here are some tips that I have found to be the most helpful:
#1- Be on The Same Page as Your Spouse
My husband and his ex-wife work out the parenting schedule each month. Before my husband agrees to it, he sends it to me so I am aware of the schedule, and to make sure it works for both of us. If there is a conflict whether it be the parenting schedule or something else, we discuss it to determine our position before contacting his ex-wife. This ensures not only that you are in the loop, but that you feel comfortable and aware of what is being relayed to the ex.
# 2 Boundaries-
Many of you have expressed a lack of boundaries, maybe she calls too often for a personal chat with your spouse, wants to be involved in the ongoings at your house, or maybe stops by unannounced? From my experience, boundaries are a necessity. First, have a conversation with your spouse and let them know how you feel. If the ex wants to maintain a personal relationship and it makes you uncomfortable, then speak up. The personal relationship ended with the marriage. Being friends is important for your stepchildren no question, but anything more can be disruptive to your relationship. One way to deal with this without causing conflict is for your spouse to ignore the calls or text messages (when not about the children) and just say he is too busy to talk, after a while the ex will likely get the hint.
#3 - Parenting Agreement
If your spouse and birth mom are divorced, it’s likely that they have already agreed on a parenting schedule and other legal responsibilities as part of the divorce. If they were never married than it’s extremely important that your spouse and birth mom have a clear parenting agreement, even if everyone gets along. The parenting agreement will provide a foundation and guideline for the responsibilities of each parent. It will ensure that you and your spouse have custody and/or visitation on a consistent basis. You can hire a lawyer to draft this and help work out the details. If a lawyer is not in your budget there are legal services organizations that may be able to help you. You can check out https://www.lawhelp.org/
#4 - Pick Your Battles -
Getting involved in every dispute is not going to stop the conflict. Being a stepmom means sometimes you have to be the bigger person. While dealing with high conflict BM may be difficult for you, it is likely harder for your stepkids. When BM starts a dispute, discuss it with your spouse first and let him respond rather than contacting her yourself. If she is disrespectful towards you, do not engage with her, and stick with the parenting agreement.
#5 - Social Media-
If your spouse’s ex is high conflict, do not be friends on social media, unfriend or block her! It will change your life for the better. If she is nice but nosy, just pick and choose what you want her to see by changing your status to “friends only with exception [insert name].” Instagram also allows you to block individuals.
#6 - Focus on What is Best for Stepkids -.
Although having a blended family can be a rough journey for a stepmom, it can be even more difficult for a child. To be the best stepmom you can, you should think about what is best for them before making decisions. For example, I had always envisioned my husband and I taking my stepson to his first concert, so when BM told us she was taking him first, I was initially upset. Then after a day or so I thought to myself, why am I upset? His mom is taking him to his first concert, she is his mom, she deserves to take him, and why should I make that about me? It should only be about him! Sometimes, it is best to take a step back, breathe, and think about what is best for your stepchild.
#7 - Focus on Yourself-
If the conflict is getting you down, it is time to take a step back and refocus on yourself! All of what I call my “irrational feelings” began to decrease when I started to focus on something that was about me. After graduating college, I threw myself into wedding planning and joined a new gym. The things that use to bother me, from BM wanting to change the schedule constantly, to other parents judging me, to feeling less appreciated as a stepmom, no longer did. I remember thinking “I am too busy to care” and it really felt good.
If you have questions or need to talk about your current situation, as always PM me on Instagram or e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Millennial Stepmom