I’m sharing them with you now, in hopes that your ride will be a little smoother than mine.
Keep in mind, there are always exceptions to the rule. There are moms who are open to having another woman love, care, help raise their children, and don’t mind hearing about it. But there are far more moms who aren’t so comfy with that idea. Some moms will never get there, and some just need time.
1. Whether or not they still hold a torch for their ex-husband, and whether it’s been six months or six years, moms think it’s weird to meet the other woman. Some of these women are angry because they have less access to their ex’s now that you’re in the picture, and for some of them it’s the reality that it’s over.
For others, even if they aren’t holding a torch, it can still be weird seeing the father of their child with another woman. No real explanation needed – it’s just ODD.
This can be hard for stepmoms to understand, because we know how our husband feels about her. But that’s not what she sees. She sees HER emotions and feelings and if she’s not ready to let go, there’s no way she’ll be open to you.
For this reason alone, it’s best to take it slow. If you’ve reached out and got your head bit off, or ignored, take that sign to heart. She’s not ready for you.
Take your focus off her and put it back on yourself and your family. It’s not personal, it’s about her working through her stuff.
2. Moms feel like a bad parent when they send their children off to dad’s house, where another woman, whom they don’t know, will be taking care of them.
It just feels wrong.
This is strange to stepmoms, because we simply see ourselves as an additional person to love and care for our partner’s children. Or at the very least, we’re just doing what any responsible adult would do when there are children in their home – taking care of them.
3. Moms don’t want to see you at parent-teacher conferences. For them, it’s like letting a stranger in who suddenly wants to make decisions about their children. Even if you sit and say nothing, it’s still an invasion. They might look at you and think “Who are you? You have no right to be taking part in this ritual.”
This can be frustrating for stepmoms, because we just want to know what’s going with the child so we can better help take care of him. This is especially difficult if our husbands aren’t so great at relaying details.
4. Mom didn’t sign up to co-parent with you. You’re a stranger to her. It doesn’t mean anything to her that her ex has chosen you. SHE hasn’t. She doesn’t want to hear from you about how you’ve disciplined her kids or the “plan” you and your husband have come up with.
In her mind, she only co-parents with him. She did just fine before you came along (even if you disagree), and if you attempt to discuss parenting or disciplining with her, what she’s likely to hear is “You’re not doing a good enough job. Let me take over. Let me tell you how to do your job.” Even though that’s rarely a stepmom’s intention.
Stepmoms often think we have a “right” to share in the disciplining of the children, since we live with them and are affected by their actions.
So, until you have a respectful relationship with mom and she’s given you “permission” to talk to her about parenting issues, keep them between you and your husband and let your husband be your voice.
5. You can be a reminder of what has failed. Often, moms feel like they’ve failed their family. They failed their children. And every time they see or hear from you, they are reminded of that. So go easy on them. Don’t rush them. Give them time to adjust to the newness. Give them time to grow.
6. Don’t tell mom that she should be open to you because “it’s what’s best for the kids.” Even though it IS best for the kids, saying this can put her on the defensive. It’s as if the fact that she’s not ready to work things out means she’s NOT willing to put her child’s needs first. And that will not go over well.
I know that some of this may not make sense to stepmoms, but it’s not your job to understand why she feels this way. Just knowing that she does, will hopefully be enough reason for you to find little ways to adjust your behavior so you’ll be in the best possible position for a relationship with her, when she’s ready.
- What divorced moms should know about stepmoms
- Are we sabotaging ourselves?
- I’m done trying to make peace with the other woman. Now what?
© 2011 Jenna Korf All Rights Reserved
(Photo credit: graur razvan ionut)