Congratulations! You’re in love or married to a wonderful man (or woman, if you swing that way) who happens to have children. You’re embarking on a new world and experience that is literally unlike anything else on the planet! No, not even like step fathers…. they have it easy. Step Mothers Do The Hard Work – that’s Rule 1 – write that down; and there is little to no reward for it. Why do we do it? Love. That’s it. If you don’t love your partner, get out NOW and save everyone (especially yourself) the trouble.
When I married my husband, I WISHED I had a Handbook, Rulebook, pamphlet, leaflet, blog, book, article, SOMETHING to cite when things got weird. What To Expect When You’re Expecting doesn’t cover high conflict birth moms and step children. So, for you, I have compiled a list of Rules, Do’s, and don’t’s to get you through it. This isn’t a complete list because no two step mothers will ever have the same obsticals. There are more issues in step parenting relationships than there are atoms on Earth and no two women will have the same ones. They may feel like their situations are exactly the same and they will relate in many ways, but it’s never more than similar. That’s Rule #2 – No Two Birth Mothers Are The Same. What works for one will not work for all, or even half, otherwise this wouldn’t be such a problem, would it?
Rule #3 is pretty straight forward – All Teenagers Suck. Let me repeat that, ALL TEENAGERS SUCK! They are heartless and mean creatures. They put their birth parents through hell and for step mothers, it’s 10 times worse! I have never met a more rude, disgusting, horrible human being than my teenaged step son and I work in retail! The general population is stupid, teenagers are even more so.
Rule #4 – Don’t Let Step Family Be The Reason For Your Divorce. Likely, that’s what they WANT and if you can’t find a way to love and make it work, then you’re letting them win! This rule is a little iffy because there are extenuating circumstances that change this rule such as spousal abuse, child abuse, or drugs. If those things are an issue, run away! That’s rule #5 – Do Not Let Yourself Or Your Children Be Abused. You’re better than that and if you are experiencing this, reach out to help lines, protection services, close family or friends, or me! I will help you find resources in your area! I have a contact page in my blog, send me a message and I will do my best! Too many women die each and every day from abuse! Every bloody nose, black eye, cracked rib, and broken bone is a tragidy when it’s done by a spouse or a parent! It’s not your fault and you just need help to get out.
Rule #6 – Don’t Be The Abuser! This is for all the exact same reasons! If you are abusing your step children or your spouse, get yourself some help and remove yourself so you’re not ruining someone else’s life! The criteria is the same as signs of being abused except you’re the one causing the damage!
Rule #7 – Learn Communication. This can apply to your spouse or the birth mother and even the step children. Made up statistic is 80% of all issues can be rooted in miscommunication! Learn the feeling statements and how to tailor them to each personality.
Rule #8 – Take Care Of You! Find time to treat yourself to a little R&R. You need it! You’re juggling a new marriage, inheriting step children, a job, your own kids, bills, friendships, your own parents, etc. The stress is limitless and if you don’t find ways to unplug and relax, you’ll drown in the drama. Don’t forget to give the same to your spouse. I promise he needs it, too!
Rule #9 – Document Everything! Especially with a high conflict birth mother. This will help in future court hearings and custody battles that you’re likely to have. Have a notebook or a Word Pad and DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Screenshot all harassing or incriminating text messages, emails, photos, the works! Birth mom is likely doing to the same to you.
Rule #10- The Courts Don’t Care About Step Parents. Make sure all documentation is from the spouses point of view because a judge could care less about you. Get used to it.
Rule #11 – Everything Is Now Your Fault! Step mothers, unlike step fathers, get blamed for EVERYTHING! Even if your spouse has been divorced from their ex for 10 years, you’re now the reason they aren’t together in the eyes of the ex and he child. If the child is late to school, it’s your fault. If the child is failing school, it’s your fault. If birth mother is broke, it’s your fault. If birth mother has a bad day, it’s your fault. If the kids get sick, it’s your fault. No matter if it actually IS your fault, you are now the person to blame and the scapegoat for of everyone else’s issues. This will not change.
Rule #12 – Start Drinking Wine. It helps.
Rule #13 – Learn To Laugh About It. It will make you feel so much better about the drama and will help you cope.
Rule #14 – Learn To Let Go. You can’t control other people’s motivations, actions, or decisions. The only thing you can do is learn how to respond. Once I learned this, things got SO MUCH EASIER!
Rule #15 – Act! Don’t React! When a high conflict birth mother is harassing you, be calculated in what you say and do. I know you WANT to curse her out and tell her how it really is, but be careful and choosy about what you say and do. As I said earlier, the courts don’t care about step parents so if you say or do something out of spite, not only are you as low as she is, but she now has ammunition to pull visitation.
Rule #16 – Find A Support Group. It can be a MeetUp, Facebook group, bloggers, friends, doesn’t matter. There will come a day when you need advice or just to vent and these places are phenomenal for that! I have established amazing relationships with some fantastic women in these support groups! Find one!
Rule #17 – You’re Not Alone. Remember when I said that no two step mother situations were alike? This means that in one way or another, another step mother has gone through what you’re going through in some way, shape, or form and can help you with it! That’s why I have Rule #16
Rule #18 – No Body Is Perfect! That’s right! You’re going to make mistakes. So is dad and birth mom and the step kids! It’s how you handle it that makes the difference. You have to forgive yourself for your mistakes and forgive birth mom, dad, and step kids as well.
Rule #19 – Don’t Judge Other Step Moms! This goes hand-in-hand with Rule #15. You don’t know their situation and ALL step mother dynamics are different. What works for you WILL NOT work for everyone. Let others make mistakes. If you don’t have any words of encouragement to them, move along and say nothing!
Rule #20 – Birth Mother Is Probably Jealous. Yepp! That’s right! She had a child with a man and couldn’t make it work, but YOU are making it work with that same person. She is probably seething mad and green with jealousy. Her snide remarks and undermining jabs are just her trying to knock you down a peg for being happy and making it work. She has NO IDEA how hard this is for you and her actions do not help! Let it go, trust me. It will not change and you DO NOT want to make the mistake of telling her your life isn’t a fairytale. I did that to try and stop the abuse she was dishing me and she threw it in my face later. Save yourself the trouble and just accept that she is jealous of you!
Rule #21 – Society Hates Step Mothers! You see it in Disney, in conversations, in the court system, everywhere. Step mothers are SUPPOSED to be evil in the eyes of the general population. It’s a prejudice and it’s stupid, like most prejudices. It’s so bad we even hate each other sometimes! Don’t take offense to it and work your ass off to change the stigma!
Rule #22 – It’s Not All Bad! There are rewards to be found in being a step mothers usually with the little ones, but also with the older. The little ones are unbiased and the older ones can think for themselves. And yes, you can “check out” unlike biological parents. You’re not obligated to be the bad guy all the time and you have every right more than blood parents to get away if you need it. You get all the kisses of being a mom and all of the freedoms of being childless. Yes, it usually comes with the price of a mean and horrible biological mom spreading rumors and being horrible to you, but at the end of the day, if she abandons her kid, she is still financially responsible. If you choose to leave, you can wash your hands clean.
Rule #23 – It’s Not For Everyone! It takes a special kind of person to be okay with being the bottom feeder of the parenting dynamic. As the second wife, you’ll never get as much child support as the first wife gets, you have little to no say, you’re the scapegoat, doormat, and punching bag for the kids, birth mom, and sometimes dad. There is no shame in admitting this life isn’t for you and I will never judge you for it! If you do decide to stick it out though, you’ll be grateful for it when the nest is empty and you can be alone with the man you love. Most step kids grow to love their step mothers as they mature and become adults! It can happen for you, too!
What rules do you think I should add? Comment them below and don’t forget to subscribe for more Step Mommy Dearest Posts!