Ladies, I very rarely (as in almost never) host guest posts on my blog. But the other day, I stumbled upon a post from my friend Beth, creator of The Babbling Blonde, and I knew that I absolutely had to share this post with you. So I reached out to Beth and asked her if I could share!
I’m so grateful that she said yes. This post couldn’t be more on point! If we’re being honest, I struggled with a few of these habits during those early stepmom years.
If you’re not familiar with Beth, you should get familiar and quick. Beth is one of three moms raising one fun, feisty little redhead. Over at the Babbling Blonde, she provides support and inspiration to women in nontraditional families, from stepmoms to LGBTQ parents.
Now let’s dive in!
5 Harmful Habits That Stepmoms Need to Break
As stepmoms, we all spend so much time supporting one another in an “us against the world” mentality. It’s awesome and important and so valid. However, sometimes we forget that when our stepfamily lives aren’t totally harmonious, the problem can also be us.
I’ll never be a perfect stepmom, and I’m guilty of all of these at one point or another. Habits are hard to break, but the first step is recognizing them. If we don’t face our own flaws, how do we have the right to point out the ones in others?
Let’s start some “stepmom self work” by identifying a few harmful habits stepmoms need to break.
YOU’RE ALWAYS READY FOR WAR
If you’re coparenting in a high-conflict dynamic, it’s easy to understand why your guard would always be up. The problem is when you put your boxing gloves on before it’s clear there’s even going to be a fight.
If you show up to every event with a chip on your shoulder, face every minor request with frustration, or get defensive every time you’re asked a question, that war will almost always wage.
Not every ex has an agenda, and even those who do, don’t have them all the time. And if you’re in a situation where you really have a high-conflict coparent, throwing gasoline on a fire is almost never the right thing to do. You can build boundaries without getting so many bruises and battle scars along the way.
YOU DON’T TRUST YOUR PARTNER
Do you check your partner’s texts and rationalize that it’s because you’re making sure they are being treated with respect by the ex? Do you worry like crazy every time your spouse goes to an exchange or an event without you in attendance?
It’s not worth it. If your partner’s ex isn’t over them and makes that known, what good does it do to see that? Is there a cause for concern? Take that time and energy and put it into your relationship.
If you don’t trust your partner, the problem is bigger than being in a blended family, and you should take time to examine that first.
Take a step back and try to think about whether you would trust your significant other if they weren’t in a position to have to be permanently connected to an ex. Your answer will guide your next move.
YOU MAKE YOUR PARTNER CHOOSE
Your home should not be a rotating podium where you and your stepkids are constantly battling it out to be number one in your partner’s heart. You’re setting yourself up to fail by finding flaws, isolating yourself, or just generally putting your partner in the position to pick between you and the kids.
Sometimes you might even be thinking you’re taking a stand against the ex by encouraging your partner not to chip in for something or help out on an occasion where the attention is taken off of you. But in reality, your partner isn’t choosing their ex, he or she is choosing their kid, plain and simple.
This one can be an especially difficult habit to break when it feels like there’s a fine line between pandering to the ex and just being a good parent. With work and self reflection, you can learn the difference.
YOU CONSTANTLY MICRO-COPARENT
Are you always dictating your partner’s responses to their ex because you think you know the best and most effective way to respond? Are you tagging along to every exchange just because? Do you answer questions the ex or your stepkids ask your partner just because you know the answer too? This is all part of micro (or helicopter) coparenting.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Constantly stepping up as a primary parent can feel instinctive, especially if you’re a childless stepmom, but sometimes it can cause unnecessary conflict. Plus, your partner deserves the opportunity to be the primary parent that they are.
YOU THINK YOU’RE THE SUPERIOR MOTHER
Sure, you might likely be the glue that holds your blended family together, but that does not inherently mean you’re a better mother than your stepkids’ mom. You’re two different people, likely doing your best to raise an awesome human being. Maybe you’re more organized. Maybe you’re more punctual, or maybe you’re just better at french braiding or teaching your little ones how to tie their shoes.
You might be better at some things. Hell, you might be better at a ton of things, but that doesn’t mean you are a better mother.
Regardless of your abilities as a parent, your ego is not going to do you any favors when it comes to blending your family. Parenting is never a competition, because when that happens, the only ones who lose are the kids.
WHEW! Seriously how true are all of those points?
As I’ve said hundreds of times, I’m all about taking ownership and control of your life. You cannot control how other people act or how they perceive situations. When you’re in a high conflict situation (or any stressful situation for that matter), it’s easy to focus on what other people are doing to contribute to the dynamic. Sometimes we are so fixated on what others are doing, that we forget to consider how our own actions may be contributing.
PS In case you missed it, I recently interviewed Beth on my Podcast and the interview was pure gold! We talked about everything from being a stepmom in a. same sex marriage, to moving to the small town where the ex has deep roots, to the number one thing that held us both back from being the type of stepmom we wanted to be! Check it out HERE!