So many great stepmoms (and dads) read my blog, and when I read this article, Step-Parenting: Dealing with a Bitter Ex-Wife, by Laura Egbers, I wanted to post it here as a resource.
The article is a bit dated (almost a year old) but offers some advice that stressed-out, harassed, and aggravated step-parents may find helpful! It opens with this simple but important message:
“One important thing to remember is she is the ex-wife. There’s usually a reason for that. This could be one of the burs in her butt that’s forcing her to increasingly be the nasty person she is towards you. Remain calm. Throwing more fuel on the fire never helped put it out. Sit back with the satisfaction that you are being the better person. Kindness is your key. This will also be remembered by your step child(ren) the next time she’s “in your face” that you never had a cross with their mother. As the child(ren) grows older, they will start to question why their mother doesn’t like you so much. So, in short, always be nice.”
Sitting back with the satisfaction that you are the better person can be difficult when someone is hurling mud at you every time you turn around, lashing out, spitting, but it is true: the kids don’t need 2 adults acting so hatefully or idiotically. Don’t join her.
This paragraph especially rang true in my heart (bolding is mine):
“One of the biggest no-no’s in step parenting is bad mouthing the mother to her child(ren)….Remember, you are not only reducing yourself down to her level, you are giving your step-child(ren) a sense that they have no one they can turn to because all the adults in their life are fighting. …Again, remain calm. You be the one to wipe away the tears. You be the one to listen without judgment. You need to be there for them. You can not judge them by their mother, they are innocent in the fact that they are adjusting to a new life with you, just like their mother has to accept that you are now not only married to her ex-spouse, but happy and content to welcome her child(ren) as a part of this new family. Remember, if she is this nasty to you, imagine how she can be in her own household.”
How frightening is that last sentence?
“Remember the ex-wife isn’t going to just go away, but using these guidelines will help your new step-child(ren) adjust and grow with your new household. They will appreciate that you were the calm person. They will feel more comfortable with you because you weren’t the one yelling, screaming and bad mouthing their mother. It’s not their fault who she is; they are victims of her personality just as much as you are.”
As always, the kids are the most innocent, but the ones paying the highest price when one parent is insanely jealous, spiteful, and incapable of putting the kids first. I’m stunned how commonplace that scenario is, and how accepted by family court it is. The phrase “best interests of the children” is a trite mask, trotted out so frequently to hide the true selfish motives beneath it.
Kids deserve better than this. Period.