Taboo Topics: Things Stepmothers Don’t Want to Say Out Loud, Part 3

12 Apr

Are you "chummy" with the biomom or do you keep her at arms' length?

This is the third installment of my conversation with Heather Hetchler of The Stepmom Connection.  The third taboo topic that we discussed on March 16th was:  “I don’t want to be friends with the biomom.”

While I really admire Jennifer Newcomb Marine and Carol Marine and the revolution that they’ve started getting biomoms and stepmoms together—for some of us, it just doesn’t work.  Some of us don’t want to be friends, ever.  Some of us want to keep communication to a minimum.  Does that make us failures?  No.  It makes us honest. 

Let’s face it, most of us are never going to write a book with the biomom like Carol and Jen and most of us aren’t going to start a business together like Lisa Teal-Webb and Lisa Webb of Lisa & Lisa Stylish, Sporty & Special Jewelry (yes, that was a shameless plug for two moms that I admire for coming such a long way).  We feel pressure to “make nice” with his ex and feel guilty for wanting to hold her at arms’ length.  Heather mentions in her companion post “…whether it’s right or wrong, typically the mom sets the tone for the relationship.”  Being a biomom and a stepmom, I can attest to the truth in that statement.  I think about the Tracy Byrd’s song, “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” and that can certainly hold true in blended family situations.  The stepmom can keep extending the olive branch, but when the biomom keeps whacking it with her machete, it gets a little discouraging.  It gets so discouraging in fact, that I wrote a post last month (“Here’s a news flash:  I don’t wanna be friends”) on this exact topic.  I compiled the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the hundreds of stepmoms involved in online support groups and the post got quite a few comments.  Stepmoms are frustrated; so frustrated in fact that they give up because they feel that they’re “damned if they do, damned if they don’t”, so why put out any effort at all? 

Personally, I don’t have a relationship with the biomom (that’s a mutual decision on both of our parts).  That lack of relationship was also the impetus for me to do the “stepmom stepback”.   I appreciate the fact that she’s kind to my biokids, but that’s as far as the niceties extend.  I don’t think we would have ever chosen each other as friends if we had randomly met one another because we are very different people.  The only thing we really have in common is that she used to be married to the man I now share my life with, and that alone is enough of a reason (for me at least) to NOT have a “chummy” relationship.  However, I’ve had a nagging feeling over the last year that the needs of my stepdaughters are beginning to outweigh my own personal reasons for not having any sort of relationship with their mother. But then again, a relationship of any kind would mean that both parties would be participating.  Would I like for us to be cordial to one another at the kids’ events?  Yes.  Would I like to be able to communicate if necessary about the kids’ needs?  Yes.  Do I need to meet with her for coffee or lunch or friend her on Facebook?  No.  I’ve got my boundaries and I’m sure she has hers.  Only time will tell what, if anything, will happen.

 If you have a relationship that works with the BM or SM in your life, please share how you got there and how your relationship functions. If you decided not to pursue a relationship with the BM or SM, please tell us why. 

Don’t forget to read Heather’s companion post on CafeSmom.

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13 Responses to “Taboo Topics: Things Stepmothers Don’t Want to Say Out Loud, Part 3”

  1. Closer to Lucy April 12, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Wow! This is right on the nose! I have no desire to be BM’s friend…I shouldn’t lie though and say I didn’t think we could be friends because I really thought we could, I tried more than hard but the olive branch is the most painful.

  2. Kris April 13, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    On my blog, I advocate moms and stepmoms getting along for the sake of the kids. But I have no desire to be ‘friends’ with any of the players in my steplife; my stepson’s mom, my own ex or my child’s stepmom. We have very little in common and our values and interests are so different.

    Being civil/respectful and being friends are two completely different things. Some moms get there and I admire them for it, but most of us probably don’t aspire to that.

  3. Angela April 13, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    I stepped cautiously towards a friendship w/BM; at first she was very cordial. It wasn’t to far into the “friendship” when I realized I was being pumped for information and she was using me to needle and harass my husband. That was 6yrs ago. I have a lot of the same feelings that are described here about the relationship w/BM. Maybe over time things will get better but I’ve accepted that if they don’t, I’m OK w/that too.

  4. Talia April 13, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I don’t have a relationship with BM/EX and frankly, have no desire to cultivate one. I barely have a relationship with my steps, thanks to her. In fairness, don’t think she wants a relationship with me either. I am fine with that decision.

    If it weren’t for my husband, she would have NO place in my life. We would not be friends and we don’t run in the same circles. Thank God!

  5. Jenna April 13, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Over at No One’s The Bitch, we totally agree that sometimes getting along just isn’t feasable. If the other woman isn’t willing to budge, there’s not anything you can do about that, and you can definitely end up feeling like a failure. We’re focusing more on how these women, moms and stepmoms, can be more at peace with themselves, regardless of how the other woman is behaving. Once you’ve found your own inner peace, it will overflow into your family life and onto everyone around you. (except maybe the other woman) ;).

  6. Anonymous April 14, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    I have no relationship with my stepkids’ mom/fiance’s former wife, and it was her choice. 

    When we first started dating, my fiancé told her about me and she asked to meet me. We met on her terms (ie where and when she wanted). Although she was very nice during our chat and I thought everything was fine, she then took my fiancé outside and yelled at him for 20 minutes (in front of their daughter, then 10) for “forcing me to meet her.”

    Over the next year or so, whenever we met in public (school events, community events) we greeted each other politely and then meandered away in the crowd, which I thought was a fine approach. After about a year, she started ignoring us on these occasions; no matter how hard we tried to walk toward her to say hello, she would turn her back, walk away, or simply stand there and not respond. 

    At the same time, I ran into her once when she had the kids (then 12 and 17) with her at a community event. I said hello. She responded with a single hello and then turned away. The kids, who usually greeted me with hugs and sometimes a kiss, would not look at me, say hello or touch me. That was three years ago, and it telegraphed the achievement of their mom’s goal: total warfare. 

    In the intervening three years, we have learned that she frequently “bashes” (kids’ word) dad during yelling tirades at her house. Both my SD’s therapist and my SS’s therapist have told dad that they are working with each kid to help them learn to communicate with mom. SS’s therapist says that in such a volatile and high-conflict situation, kids tend to placate mom, but that only harms the kid and his best option may be to limit contact. 

    In other words, her approach to dealing with people is consistent: unpredictable mood swings and inappropriate anger.  I am just another in a long line of recipients of her treatment.   

  7. Arlene Hopkins April 14, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    For 8 years I did not speak to the bio mom for many many good reasons. I was hated for being an active step mom who loves her step children. So sad. This tore the children apart. For the sake of the children I spoke to her for the first time after 8 years of seeing what this was doing to the children. It was the biggest mistake of my life. She managed to turn me against her ex, my husband, get her to help her get custody of the children and caused the falling out of our marriage. I loved my step children so much, I thought she would be able to help me with the raising of the boys after all the fighting they had been put in the middle of. It was because I cared and loved them so much, I reached out to her. She had alterior motives, to continue the destruction of her ex and me. So sad. I have no hate or regret. I believe everything happens for a reason. Good things fall apart, so better things can come together. I think this was the way for me to be rid of her and my ex, who tore our family apart alienating those boys from her and using me to help him. Add to the mix domestic violence and you’ve got the makings of a disaster. I finally saw it and had enough. I do think about my step sons, who I did raise and will always have my door open to them someday when they are grown men and want to see me. I will love them forever. Like them, I was also caught in the middle of the tug of war. So, I guess I do and then again, I do not regret speaking to the bio mom. Everything happens for a reason.

  8. abigail March 26, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    I have two step kids ages 10 and 12. I have only lived with them for about a year now and am finaly getting some sort of normal schedule down. Befor me it was just the two kids and Dad. They only see their mother once or twice a year for about a week or less depending on how she feels. I’ve had to talk to her on the phone a few times, the kids talk to her about once a week. Their dad is nice to her but only calls her to remind her to pay her child support. My biggest issue is I know one day I will have to meet this lady and I do not want to. Im pregnant and from what I know about her I dont want my child to have anything to do with her (witch worries me that my baby will be related to her kids) This lady has two kids and apartly hasnt ever spent more then a week with them, how could i ever respect her? or even tollerate her? i havnt and i dont think i ever will.
    Its makes me even more sad when I know my two step kids worship her, because we have never gone low enough to speak ill of her infront of the kids it seems to not phase them that she is never around and im the one who tucks them in at night.

  9. not a stepmonster! May 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    No way in hell would I be friends with the woman who put my man thru so much. Had him put in jail for 2 days last year and gets 1/2 his pay, teaches ss age 7 it is ok to say every time I say no to him that he doesn’t have to listen to me bc I am not his mom, to disobey my house rules and he is a brat fyi. Weekends are awful at our house, I threatened today to have ss charged w/ animal cruelty for KICKING MY DOG! Neighbours kids won’t play with him n he never gets invited to birthday parties or playdates bc of his behaviour. It has been horrendous. She had a private investigator try to get info on me from my friends, family and work, then demanded my medical records and a drug screen for DH to have visitation since he moved in with me. Let’s just say I’m a Christian and I used some words that God would cry over, and now that their divorce is final I am suing her for home invasion and theft of property since she bust into my house in January and refused to return DHs moms diamond earrings which were a family heirloom, which should’ve been my wedding present from my husband to then pass on to ss wife when he’s grown. She lies and cheats, moved a bf in the house who is a sponge, yet no background check or drug screen was demanded on our part for him. Btw I refused the med records request stating HIPAA violation and won out, people can’t do that! I took the drug screen bc I have nothing to hide, I don’t even drink. I’m a mom of a 13 yr old dtr and a registered nurse! I’m also suing her for the cost of the drug test at the lab, it cost $140. I have made it clear that I plan on being as rude and obnoxious as possible, hoping to have her swing on me so I can beat the shyt out of her and claim self defense. I told her I could help her lose 50 pounds real fast, that if she didn’t shut her mouth I’d shut it for her and I wasn’t kidding. I’m a normally quiet woman and it takes a lot to get me riled, but the last woman who called me a slut ended up with a partial denture and she knows it bc they went to school together. Of course this was when I was 16 and I have nothing more on my record than a 5 yr old speeding ticket. In the beginning when I knew I’d be a SM I tried to speak with her and be cordial but within 2 minutes that was a failure. She called me names on Facebook like slut and skank crack Whore and hung up on me when I offered the olive branch to make transition easier for ss. I then told every parent in her school what she called me on Facebook by printing the posts out and taping it to the door of the principals office and writing across the top, “is this who you want teaching your kids?” I hear four kids were pulled from her class and next years families have put in requests for the other teachers! So yes, its cool if you’re friendly with the other mom, but its not happening in my house!

  10. Sharip June 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    I fell in love with my now-husband very quickly after we started dating and I jumped into the relationship with very romantic and unrealistic ideas about what it would be like to be a stepmother. I reached out to BM pretty early on (before I was engaged to DH) expressing that I hoped we could have a cordial relationship b/c I planned to “be around for awhile”. Though I presented myself as extending an olive branch, in hindsight I see that making that step toward her was mostly just a flaunt on my part. Anyway, she responded kindly. We even had her over for dinner, with the kids too, at our home shortly after I moved in with him. DH expressed reservations about BM and me being too friendly b/c he thought BM would try to drag me into things that are not my problem. I understood his concern and I made no other attempts to reach out to her. We just maintained being friendly whenever we happened to see each other. When DH and I announced that we were getting married BM sent me an email expressing a laundry list of her complaints about how DH is not honoring his responsibilities according to the divorce settlement re: certain bills that they had shared and btw did I know that their divorce (which they filed for about five years previous) actually hadn’t been finalized b/c he never submitted such-and-such paperwork? I showed the email to DH. This is exactly what he was warning me of. I did not reply to her or acknowledge the email at all. She has never reached out to me after that and we still maintain friendly ‘hi-bye’ exchanges when we cross paths, which is rare. In the intervening couple of years, she has met someone and is now herself engaged. She has of course convinced her fiance of everything she believes about DH, and her fiance has written a few emails to DH via BM’s email account telling DH what he thinks of him and spelling out the ways he thinks DH should behave differently and just all-around passing judgement on situations in which he only knows one side of the story. It infuriates DH, but he chooses not to respond at all. I think this is the very best way for us to deal with it because to engage either of them would be absolutely in vain.

  11. My Fairy Stepmother July 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    Loved this post! I just read through several of your posts and I really appreciate your honesty about being a stepmom. It’s tough out there for a smom! I am really, really blessed to have a strong relationship with my stepsons, but it is still so challenging! I just started a stepmom blog a few months ago @ myfairystepmother.blogspot.com. Stop by and visit sometime!

  12. momma mia September 12, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    This is a continuous question for me. I am both a bio mom and step mom. What is an acceptable relationship with the ex and the new stepmom. With my hubbys ex, she pretty much set the tone that she didnt want anything to do with me and that issues with my stepkid were beyween her and my ex….so i stepped back and have been somewhat happier for it….with my childs step mom….things are very civil…almost too civil! She has tried a couple of times to add me and my husband as facebook friends and has even added my parents as facebook friends…but im not quite comfortable with that….i still want part of my life with my kids to be mine…and not subject to speculation from the “other side” of my kids family.

  13. Life Changes March 21, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    So nice to find this blog spot and understand that I am not alone. Thank you for creating this so we can share our experiences to hopefully help one another. I am 37, engaged to a wonderful man who is 54 that has 2 children ( 16G, 12B) . I was single, had a great career, had a beautiful home and had lived in my previous city for almost 20 years…so my life was very comfortable. I met my guy and since have moved several states away to be with him. We have the children every other weekend and once a week. The ex wife and my guy seem to have a well working relationship. I do not have any contact with her and have only met her 2 or 3 times in a year. She is extremly authoritative, where as my guy is not at all. She pretty much runs the show. I unfortunatly sneak and look at text messages and emails between one another. My fiance is so sweet but is a conflict avoider and does not want to make anyone upset, so therefore he chooses to not share certain things with me…which I can understand because I get really upset over how she treats him at times. I failed to mention they were married for 23 years, and divorce was mutal. He takes for her all the time. In the beginning of our relationship he would tell me details of how things really were with them, but now it is all positive, and never ANYTHING negative about her. Sometimes I just want to scream and ask “Can you not just agree that she can be difficult sometimes??!!” I have to also state that he pays a nice sum of alimony for the rest of her life, and the children go to private schools, burning a hole in his pocket. He says yes to just about whatever she requests. Some people would say that I am jealous. I on the other hand would say it’s not jealousy, but disgusting to see my fiancee bow down to her every need, she basically lives off of all the money he doles over to her and then some, and seems to be a control freak and talks down to him. Maybe it’s not a bad thing he sheilds me from some of her behaviors, but I find out anyway through snoopping. I need to stop this behavior and move on. I believe if you go snoopping you will ALWAYS find something that is upsetting. Oh…and as far as the children. They are both adopted from birth. We seem to have a decent relationship. The 16 year old girl is your typical teenager I guess. Entilted, but does well in school and doesnt give us much trouble. The little boy is so so sweet and does not give us any problems. I do have to admit that I feel like so many of you on here that does not love them…at least not yet. It has only been a year since I have moved and I believe it takes time to love. Sometimes I am so angry I was the one who had to move, and leave my family, friends, and a very comfortable life. He has been so patient and loving through the past year. He comes with baggage which was not what I ideally wanted for my life, but there is nothing perfect. I feel guilty at times for feeling all of this and hope someone can speak to me and suggest some helpful words of wisdom. Thank you for taking the time to read : )

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