What to Do When the BioMom Declares War

27 May

BioMoms hate us, they obsess over us and then deny that they do.   

I know StepMoms that endure constant drive-bys, stake outs by private investigators, harassment at work, calls to Child Protective Services with false accusations, cyberstalking and lawsuit after lawsuit for everything from custody to allegations of slander and libel all fueled by desperation to find something, anything to prove that the Wicked Stepmother is unfit to be in the presence of children.  I would have never believed any of this until I became a StepMom and began to hear horror story after horror story.  It’s almost as if someone has handed BioMoms a playbook because the moves are all the same and increasingly predictable.

Everything bad that happens to the children is attributed to us or our existence on this planet and we never get credit for the good things that we do.  If we send the kids home in freshly washed clothes it’s because we’re trying to be “Little Miss Perfect” but if we send them home with spots on their shirts then we’re lazy bitches that can’t be bothered to do laundry.  We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. 

They stalk and harass (or get others to do it on their behalf), resort to name-calling and racial slurs, and even go so far as to interrogate the kids when they get home (“What did she wear? Where did she take you? Were you alone with her?”).  And yet we’re the ones labeled “Stepmonster”, “Wicked Stepmother” and sometimes even “Psycho Bitch”.  Somehow that just doesn’t seem fair.

After being the spin cycle of craziness, so many of us come out thinking:

Do they realize the amazing amount of power they give us by focusing all their energy and attention on us?

Do they know that the crazier they act, the more closely we bond with our husbands/partners?

Wouldn’t all that money, time and energy be better spent doing something else?

Most importantly, don’t they see the damage they cause the children?

I read a post by Susan Wisdom called “Why Do You Care About the Ex?” which addresses the reasons why some StepMoms focus on the BioMom.  One sentence really resonated with me:  “The truth is, the EX is yesterday’s news.”  Wow, that was a light bulb moment for me.  The BioMoms of the world know it.  They also know that since they’re yesterday’s news that we are today’s headline and they would like nothing more than to knock us off the front page. To be fair, her behavior is probably driven by jealousy and fear.  Jealousy that WE are the women that he chose, and fear over the fact that her kids might like weekends with Dad and us better than being at home with her.  What a lonely and scary place to be! At some point these BioMoms need to get past their own insecurities and see that we’re not there to take their rightful place as mom.  All we want to do is care for our husband’s/partner’s children as best we can. 

So, what do we do? Dr. Rachelle Katz, author of the new book “The Happy Stepmother” says early in her book, “…if my husband’s ex-wife wanted to say bad things about me, I wasn’t going to be able to stop it.  The best thing I could do was be myself and be the best stepmother I could be.”  (emphasis added) No truer words have ever been spoken, and even though we know this, we forget the minute BM starts her antics.  Some of the more seasoned StepMoms have given the best advice which can be summed up in a few words:  always take the high road.  On the other hand, DH has said to me over and over, “always respond in love.”  It’s difficult to always turn the other cheek and be the bigger person, but we need to.  Why?  First of all the kids are watching.  If you take the high road, the kids will notice the difference between the way you and BM act.  Secondly, it gets exhausting to engage in war if you’re the only one shooting bullets.  Eventually, BM will run out of ammunition (or her AK-47 will jam) and if you’re standing there waving a white flag throwing kindness and love grenades at her,then at some point, she’ll have to put down her weapon and walk towards you.  The process isn’t simple or quick and there are no guaranteed results, but it’s up to us to model kindness and integrity within boundaries that you have established.  When you have one of those days where you want to give up because it’s exhausting and you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere with BM, look at the faces of your StepKids.  They make all the hard work (with possibly no payoff) worth every minute.  It sounds so cliché, but do your best for the kids.

What are you doing to combat the behavior of a vengeful BioMom?  How do you deal with the exhausted feeling that comes with the realization that the craziness might never end?  How do you and your husband/partner keep it together when you’re constantly the target?

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9 Responses to “What to Do When the BioMom Declares War”

  1. Rachel May 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    We try to remain as emotionless as possible, address the facts and ignore attempts to engage us in mud slinging. You also have to play it by ear and be honest with the kids.

  2. Rachel May 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    Also realize that you can only control your behavior and reactions. If things get ugly remove yourself from the situation. I know it is ideal to have similar expectations between the households but when parents cannot agree on punishments or parenting styles then it is best to agree to disagree.

  3. Deesha May 27, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    Great post. What’s really hard is when BioMom is a bully and wages war on her own kids because she doesn’t have the ovaries to take on someone her own size–the adults who are the real object of her anger, fear, and disappointment. Waging war on the kids while simultaneously demanding their devotion and loyalty–and being sneaky about it all. Keeping up the war metaphor, I call it “stealth” behavior. But the truth of the matter is, if you declare war on someone, you make it really, really hard for them to be loyal and devoted. And while it doesn’t happen overnight, this kind of BioMom orchestrates her own worst nightmare: the kids end up feeling more comfortable with Dad and Stepmom. The love is still there, but the closeness is not, and that’s a tragedy. This is a war that no one wins.

  4. Robin May 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    Well, in the beginning, we had no choice but to defend ourselves from her brutal attacks in court. She is a hacker, so I have been really careful about my accounts on line. I also have no contact with her whatsoever. As far as keeping it together, my husband and I have almost split because of the stress she has placed on us and also the kids. I do not speak negatively of her in front of the kids, or even when they are in the house….but man oh man….do we ever have some laughs at her expense when nobody can her us. She’s a peach, that one. Like a train wreck….you just can’t help yourself to look in amazement at the carnage.

  5. Lisa @pbajmom September 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    We play the avoidance game with BM. She told the kids she was going to break up our marriage and ruin our family, so we’re not open to having anything to do with her.

    Due to her long term pattern of playing games around the pick-ups and drop offs, the court ordered supervised exchanges, and that keeps things calm and drama-free. Just the way we like it!

    Plus, it forces her to show up on time, or she gets charged by the minute for being late. It’s amazing how punctual she is now. 😉

  6. Pinksmom December 22, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    I love this post! I, too have a “kill her with kindness” attitude toward BM. Even after she cussed me out and banned me from her home. I still will be sending her and her parents a couple copies apiece of Christmas portraits that we have made of the skids every year. Who in the world does NOT want professional pics of their children. I am a Christian woman and I still need to treat her the way I want to be treated and set a good example for the skids. (not always easy) Like you say, one day the skids will notice.

  7. colourmetwice May 15, 2012 at 6:16 am #

    Honestly, I found your post looking for what to do, lol. You are so right, its like a script! And yes, Robin, our BM does that too. Somehow she has found a way top look at my FB posts despite my privacy settings (this of course coming from the woman who doesn’t believe in having internet in her house). *shudder* And ther weirdest part yet, she has printed out and kept all of my blog and FB posts and is “sure a judge will see right through [my] game”. What game??? Being nice??? Yeah, huge conspiracy theory there. Anyways, she only contacts me now to flat out tell me something she hates about me. Is there a way to stop the harassment without making a bigger mess?

  8. Kate June 25, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Thank you all for the posts. It is reassuring to know I am not alone. In my situation, we are the primary caregivers our child. Yes, I say our child. I have raised her since she was 11 months old, now she is 5. She calls me mom. She is with her BM about 1 day a week. Yet of course, society will always see me as the evil step-mother. I can see how society would think that, when I raise this child as my own, have given her every part of me and provide for her, and love her unconditionally. The BM makes substantially more money than we do, but we never have asked for child support. Wow, I really am a horrible person….well at least that is what the BM tells anyone who will listen. I am with everyone here. It is important to take the higher road and know that kids are smart and will gravitate toward those who love them.

    • colourmetwice June 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

      Why do you feel “society” sees you as a monster?? BM sees me that way, and her boyfriend, but everyone else has been nothing short of kind and helpful to us. Guess I was wondering if maybe it just feels like its everyone sometimes because of how much of BM’s poor attitude can overshadow our lives sometimes…

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