Tue 12 Apr 2011
The third taboo topic: Do I have to be friends with my stepchildren’s mother?
This question stirred a lot of comments in the chat room during the show. As with every stepmom issue, this one has many, many layers. Some stepmoms want to be friends with the mother of their stepkids but the mom says NO! While others seek to get along for the sake of the kids but have no desire to “be friends.”
Why is this topic taboo? Why do stepmoms feel guilty if they don’t want to be friends with the mother of their stepkids? Is it because, as women and mothers, we are supposed to like everyone and be nice to everyone. We are raised to nurture and care. The fact that we may not want to be friends with our stepchildren’s mother does not make us wicked and evil.
Having said that, I believe it’s every mom – stepmom duo’s decision how they want to craft their relationship. I do believe that it is in the child’s best interest that both women are cordial to each other and never speak negatively about each other in front of the kids. However, how friendly you want to be is up to each mother/stepmother team.
The truth is both women do have one thing in common: the kids. Leaving egos at the door is a healthy practice in putting the emotional needs of the children first.
And whether it’s right or wrong, typically the mom sets the tone for the relationship. If mom wants to be friends with her children’s stepmom then it can become a reality. If mom chooses not to accept their children’s stepmom then patience and grace will have to be a stepmom’s friend until mom changes her mind.
One stepmom, during the show, shared that she and the mother of her stepkids don’t like each other. She said that they keep their “dislike” between the two of them and don’t believe the kids sense it. If you can maintain an amicable relationship in the children’s presence and never speak ill of each other in front of the kids that is a blessing.
Personally, I can’t be friends with my stepdaughter’s mother.
It’s not because I don’t want to be but given the fact that we’ve never met and she lives multiple states away, the opportunity for a friendship is nil at this point. Actually, deep down I wish we had an amicable relationship but the reality of being a custodial stepmom is that mom is out of the picture and therefore no chance of becoming chummy.
The way custodial stepmoms can be “friends” with their stepkids’ mother is to never talk ill of her in front of the kids. My youngest stepdaughter asks me frequently, “do you think my mom still loves me?” First time that question was asked, I was nearly speechless. I answer that question the same every time. I tell her that I believe every mother loves her children. She always follows up with “then why did she leave and why did she have more babies that she is keeping this time?” I just give her a hug and tell her that I think her mom shows love in a different way than how my husband and I show her love but that I believe with my mother’s heart that her mom loves her. I also tell her that I am not her mother and therefore I am not going to guess what her mom is thinking or why she did what she did. I definitely don’t want to put words in another woman’s mouth, especially when it’s their mother.
In that way, I try to ease my stepdaughter’s anxieties and build a bridge with her mother. Because someday we may meet. Someday we may co-parent and if that day ever comes I don’t want there to be any ill will. I want my stepdaughters to feel comfortable in a situation where we would both be parenting them.
Like all things stepfamily related, there is no right and wrong way.
There is only what works for your family.
Some stepmoms I talk with are “Facebook Friends” with the mom of their stepkids and consider that a good first step. Other stepmoms I talk with, while friendly with the mom of their stepkids, don’t want their “two worlds to collide” by way of social media. They want to be friendly at events, on email, over the phone, etc…. But when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, etc…they want to maintain their own space.
Regardless of how you wish to define your relationship with the mother of your stepchildren, I would recommend the book No One’s the Bitch by the mom – stepmom duo of Jennifer Newcomb Marine and Carol Marine. You may agree or disagree with the book but one thing is for sure, this book will get you thinking and talking about the mom/stepmom relationship. And the ten step plan for cultivating a mother and stepmother relationship may just be what you are looking for.
So what works for you? Are you friends with the mother of your stepkids? Do you think you have to be? What are your thoughts about being “Facebook Friends”? Comments and encouragement are always welcome. Thanks for sharing.