Stepmom! Hey girl hey! Here’s a bit of advice that I almost learned TOO LATE!
I know it sucks to see your partner deal with conflict from his coparent. As his Wonder Woman, it is natural to want to swoop in and save the day.
I want you to switch gears and work your magic in the background. I know you may feel that your man is incapable and undeserving of all that’s being thrown his way. You are probably right. In many instances, watching the man you love being disrespected or run through the ringer is unbearable. What you must realize is that you cannot and must not put yourself in the line of fire.
You cannot fix what you did not break.
If your man’s coparent has ill feelings toward him, chances are she will be unable to see you for the well-meaning goddess that you are! A mother will see you as meddling with a situation that has nothing to do with you. Her gripe is with her child’s father, so any misdirected visceral reaction that is thrown your way isn’t personal. Many women reading this will not heed my advice and they will roll up their sleeves and get down and dirty with their man. If this is you, you’re in for a bumpy ride. One that may damage you and your relationship beyond repair.
Our natural instinct as women is to nurture our fellow’s bleeding heart. If he has a high conflict bio mom, we especially want to avenge his honor. We feel it is our duty to show her he is a good man. She had him and she begs to differ. Even if she wants him back, she will likely not show that through acts of kindness towards you!
We want our men to be able to have access to their kids without disruption. If this child’s own mother fails to see the importance of her child having a balanced relationship with both of his parents, that’s her business. Your man should hire a lawyer or learn to file his own paperwork in order to assert his parental rights.
We cannot stand to see our men aggravated because of coparenting drama. Help your man to channel his energy to something positive- your relationship! Do not allow him to wallow in a funk of frustration. Encourage him to seek therapy, join a men’s group, or go work out. He must prove that he is capable of handling the “mess” that he created before you came into the picture. It is not your responsibility to carry his baggage. If he has left you to sort out his stuff, RUN like hell.
Don’t allow him to make YOU and your relationship his dumping ground for his drama. Yup, it’s his drama, NOT YOURS. I do not mean to sound harsh, but your relationship should be your refuge, not a repository for constant anxiety and frustration. Often, ladies are so excited to have a man that they become overrun by his issues. This is why I accept the reminder to “stay in my place”. Often meant as a condescending quip, I chose to take it literally. You earned the title as Stepmom because you fell for a man with children. Your love relationship is the only reason you are a stepmother. Remember that and always stay focused on the most important factor, which is your marriage. Your place is beside your spouse.
I don’t advise that YOU put yourself all in the coparenting mix. Take a moment to observe the reason behind the chaos in your man’s life. Be mindful that he may be an active participant in the drama. Heck, he may even like it! Look before you leap.
I have watched many stepmoms (myself included) become consumed with their husband’s coparenting battles. In fact, many women will advocate so hard for their man’s status as dad that they forget that he’s their lover. Before you know it, your home, your relationship, and your lives are consumed with court/kids/BM drama. That’s pure BS. A lot great relationships will fail because of this.
One of the smartest decisions I made was to trust my man’s ability and desire to fight for equal rights to parent his children. As opposed to being the judge, lawyer, and jury, I became our family’s cheerleader. I am a listening ear, but I have firm boundaries on what I will tolerate. At one point, I was so engulfed in hearing about the latest stunt from Crazy because the antics were unbelievably intoxicating. Our lives were better than an episode of Real Housewives! Sadly, this was not TV, this was real life. After these tea spilling sessions, an utter feeling of disgust would come over me and I’d have to cleanse myself. I had to resist the urge to be in the know and settle for getting info on a need-to-know-basis. Basically, if it did not affect me or my household, not my circus, not my monkeys. Now I simply give advice, but I recognize that many outside factors determine the outcome.
I don’t do well in chaos so I ejected myself and my Husband from the messiness. If you are in a high conflict situation, try parallel parenting. It works wonders!
I focus on MY marriage, OUR home and OUR family. I am fiercely protective of our peace. I do not trifle my mind with things and people that are not within my control. My peace of mind did not happen overnight, but I worked at it every day and one day I just woke up and I heard the birds chirping, I could hear the calm ocean and the sun was shining. I’d reclaimed my peace. I managed to quiet the distractions down to mere white noise and sent them back to the land of nothingness.
I have helped many stepparents achieve the same feat, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need help.
Being a stepparent is mostly about LETTING GO. In order to have success as a stepparent, you must focus on your spouse and your marriage. When you let go of the need to control and you keep your ego in check, you get to feel a sense of happiness that no one (aside from you and your spouse) can break.