Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Communication with the Bio-Mom

I’ve read a lot about how important it is for divorced parents to communicate with each other about their kids.

However, I’ve also heard a lot of frustrated stepmoms talk about how they seem to end up taking up the slack between non-communicating bio parents. I’ve read some blogs and forum posts where stepmoms talk about sending texts, emails, and phone calls to the bio moms, relaying information back and forth between their partner and his ex.

After reading and reflecting on my own experiences, I’ve been thinking about why we stepmoms decide to take this responsibility upon ourselves. Here’s why I think we do it:

1) We feel obligated to do what we see as “the right thing”
2) We think this is the way to be a good stepmom
3) We want to make ourselves look and feel like part of the family
4) We want to look good to the bio mom (i.e., involved and responsible)

All of this makes me think: how much communicating with the bio mom should a stepmom really do?

I’m sure this is going to sound a little controversial, but my opinion is that a lot of us stepmoms shouldn’t put much enegry into proactive communication with the bio mom.

Let me clarify. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not our responsibility to be reporting what our stepkids did that day, what TV shows they like, or what their new friend’s name is. It’s not our responsibility to send reminders about visitation times, appointments, or court dates.* That kind of thing is your partner’s responsibility, and if you do it because you feel obligated to, then you’re likely to end up feeling used and frustrated.

Furthermore, if you try and be a good stepmom by relaying information between your partner and his ex, you actually end up making yourself feel excluded. Rather than relaxing into your place in the family as a partner/wife and stepmom, you’re constantly holding yourself up between these two former lovers. It may only be an attitude, sure, but it can still negatively impact your happiness.

Finally, if you try and make yourself part of the family by being the reporter and coordinator, then you actually end up feeling empty despite all your best intentions. Even though coordinating information with the bio mom can take a lot of your emotional energy, it’s not actually doing much to build a bond between you and your stepchildren. At the same time, you feel frustrated to have put so much energy into the stepfamily situation without receiving the reward of affection back from your stepkids.

Instead of being the information exchanger, I think stepmoms should put that time and energy into building a relationship with their stepchildren. You don’t need to worry about what the bio mom thinks of you. (Although I know this can be difficult!) Truly, the important thing is what your stepkids think of you, not their mom.

This is my opinion, of course. And I'm sure that there are some stepmoms who have great communication with their kid's bio mom. What do you think? How much information sharing with the bio mom do you feel is appropriate? Have you had any bad experiences? Good ones? I’d love to hear what you have to say.




* I’m all for answering questions that the bio mom asks you (reactive communication), and I certainly support proactive communication in any case that would involve ensuring the safety of the child.

4 comments:

  1. I'm just like you, so I'm a bit biased on this article. I am amazed when I hear a stepmom actually communicates with the ex. There was no point in our situation, and there continues to not be a point. She confronted and attacked me in our very first interaction, I once said something in response to her in a public place, and I did end up sending a text to her once, more recently, because I was so insanely upset that she wasn't allowing the kids to talk to their dad. (Oh, and it worked.) So, no communication at all, and my husband would prefer none for my safety.

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  2. I have had both good and bad communication with the BioMom. She tried to make me seem non existent at first, but now that we are going to be married and have a child of our own she has accepted that I am going to be in their daughter's life. She used to verbally bash me to her daughter, that has since changed. We communicate more so because my fiance' doesn't want to have anything to do with her. I do it to mostly keep his sanity, and I don't mind it because I know deep down she hates talking to me, which makes me feel better. LOL.
    I have a great relationship with my step-daughter and I hope it stays that way. Her Mom and I have had blowups and huge fights and we have also had very nice and civil conversations. I think that it varies and will continue to vary, however, so long as my step-daughter is happy, that is all I care about.

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  3. ok, first off my step children are 13 and 11. Me and my 13 yr old boy were EXTREMELY close and did everything together and were honestly best of friends, he listened to me as his step mother and loved me just as much. It drove the mother absolutely crazy so we tried keeping our relationship at a minimum but she knew we had a wonderful relationship so one day she had a brilliant plan to break our relationship up to shreds. She said a lot of hurtful lies and a lot of scarey things to him to where he doesn't even want to be around me anymore. She says it was his decision but just dont' see how a child that adored me just wake up one day and say I dont like her, im scared of her and so on. So we know it was her. He no longer comes here bc he would literally fight with his mom and dad to not come. So, I told his dad its not fair to terrorize this child.
    Her and I tried to be friends a few times but she never gave it any forth towards the friendship and would talk horribly about me. So I set up a meeting so she could finally tell me any and everything that bothers her about me and I do the same but she had NOTHING to say. My youngest still comes for visits and wants to lives with us bc they are atleast 15 ppl living with them at all times, he doesn't have his own room, some do drugs, and her brother is a scam artist. I wish she would just come out and say hey this is what I like and dont like so I can work on myself for our relationship but she has NOTHING to say to me but LOTS to say to other ppl.
    It's also difficult because she lies so darn much, my fiancee' hates dealing with her bc she left him for his best friend and became pregnant by him while they were working on their marriage. He has let that go but now its how she is raising the children. They barely have clothes, barely takes baths nor brush their teeth.
    The mother and I have had heated conversations about certain situations but she would never allow them to be resolved.
    I need her to just release all the hate she is holding in and tell me ANY AND EVERYTHING she thinks im doing wrong or that she doesnt l ike but she wont do that. I dont understand it one bit bc if my childrent were spending time with a woman I would want to know everything, not be a competition, and let her know look, you are doing great wit this but I hate when you do this. But it seems she doesn't care one bit. It's strange. Any advice????

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  4. My step sons mother sends me 4 or 5 text a week even after I have asked her to not contact me. Most of it is school stuff that I already have access to. when she has a complaint about something like child's support she send it as a group text. It really just annoying. Before the texting she would call me work and stick notes on my car door.

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