Be an Awesome Ex-Wife and Step-Mom
Rules of Engagement
It's the hardest job in the marital community: being an ex-wife and a step-mom all at the same time. I believe that most people now refer to it as "blended family" however, since most kids aren't interested in a public office, they normally say "step-mom", or "step-dad". I go out on a limb and suggest that being a step-mom is more difficult only because we often work with a different skill-set than men. Let's face it girls, we are emotional creatures and we "feel" things. I know that if I could turn off my emotional cauldron and work completely on logic, my life would be a lot easier but it would look a lot different too. It takes more than logic to navigate my life and this particular place in our lives. These are a few ways to make a tough job seem easier.
Being a Great Ex-Wife
There's a reason you are no longer together. No matter the reason, you're both moving on. Keep that in mind when you are having a discussion about your kids. It's important to remember that your focus should be on the welfare of the kids.
Going Good Directions
- Since you signed on the line and the judge ordered it so, it is over. There is no reason that you and your ex should fight. The more respectful you are to one another, the better it is for your children. Make it a point to be nice to him.
- Don't speak badly about him in front of the children. It's okay for you to feel any way you want or need to feel, but your issues belong to you, not the kids. He will always be their father and, barring anything illegal, they should always have access to him. Don't impose your feelings upon the kids.
- If something bad happens in your family or to you, try to be the one to deliver the news to your ex. Let him know that you are letting the children know.
- If he remarries, congratulate him. Don't speak badly about either of them in front of the kids. Speaking badly about people tells more about your character than it does anyone else. If you can't say anything positive, don't say anything.
- Don't make a scene in public. The last thing you want is for the kids to know you are angry with their dad.
- Adhere to the agreements made in the divorce. If you and your ex get along and are able to make other arrangements, be consistent with those as well. Don't suddenly throw him for a loop because you're angry and "it's not in the divorce decree."
- When you can be flexible, you should. If he calls and asks you if it's okay to switch weekends, if you don't have plans, be flexible. You might find that the more willing you are to adjust, the more he is willing to harmonize.
What do you think is the hardest part of being a step-mom?
Good Times & Moving On
When you're with the kids, make it a point to focus on positive energy. It's a waste of time to re-live the past.
- Kids need to learn how to let go of negative feelings. By watching you be confident and upbeat, your kiddos will naturally learn how to be more positive.
- Spending quality time with your husband's children (just you and the kids) gives you opportunities to bond with them on a different level. It also gives you a chance to develop interpersonal relationships with kiddos. To "build bridges" that might not necessarily be built without this alone time.
- Make a tradition with all of the kids. Come up with something that you practice as a family and make it a habit.
SUPERMOM Ideas for Being a Step-Mom
Now that you've taken on this title, you have a very special job. There are ways to make your job easier; lighten the load, so-to-speak. You have the job of not only marrying a man but helping to mold a family together.
- When a negative situation arises, always make light of it. If there is something negative happening at your child's house or your husband's child's home, make light of the situation.
- Compliment the other parents, especially their mom. The more respectful you are towards your husband's ex-wife (your step-kids' mother), the better the relationship will be between you and the kids. You'll find that it repairs and helps build good relationships with several people.
- Ask about other family members and show interest in the other aspects of their lives. Remember important events in the other half of their lives.
- Get homework done. If they arrive on Friday, ask if they have homework. Don't send them home on Sunday with a backpack that's going to mean a headache for mom.
- Be a good role model. When the kids go home, they tell their family every important thing that's happened to them over the weekend; good and bad. What do you want to be remembered for?
- Don't over-share with the kids. They don't need to know about personal issues or crisis issues.
- Feed them well. Put good food in their tummies. You don't have to have 5-course meals but make sure they don't go hungry.
- Treat all of the kids the same. If you punish your kids for a particular behavior, punish your step-children for the same behavior. The best thing you and your husband can do for your combined family is agree upon an acceptable style of punishment before you move in together and then stick to it. Don't wait until 6 months after you've lived together to address it.
- If you hug your kids, hug all of the kids. Even if your step-children aren't used to it at first, they'll eventually come around. Remember, you're the parent, they're the child and you make the rules that they follow. You and your husband must be unified. If you're truly a team, your family will come together as a team. (Don't worry, even the best teams have difficult days. You will get through it together)
How Does The Divorce Puzzle Work?
The most important thing to remember is that your child or children will always love you. Don't assume that because they spend time with your ex and his significant-other or wife, that your kiddos will forget about you. On the contrary, they will always be devoted to you as their mom. Have confidence in knowing that you will always be the provider of motherly love and be glad that your kids have the benefit of receiving love from two great women. The more positive energy you put into being a good piece of the puzzle, the better your situation will be.