Adjusting to Step-mom's Existence

Updated on August 25, 2008
K.S. asks from Sparks, NV
50 answers

My ex husband is now living with his partner. They have had a long distance relationship for some time and she just recently moved in with him. My six year old now talks about his new step-mom whom he met for the first time a few days ago. I’m not sure if they are officially married, but she was presented to him as his step-mom. I have not yet met this new woman. My ex and I have been divorced for three years and although it was my decision to divorce and I do not have any desire to be with him, I am struggling with this change of having a new person in his and my son’s life. Although I have fantasies of exerting my dominance over the situation, I know the right thing to do would be to be kind and welcoming to this woman who is my son’s step-mom. My question is how to do this! The right thing to do is conflicting with the jealous, scared, and grieving internal feelings. If any of you have been on either side (the new step-mom or the mom) and have any advice I would appreciate it.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone not only for all the advice and kind words but also for taking the time to share your experiences and thoughts. Although I knew I wasn’t the first mom to deal with something like this is was great hearing the personal stories from others. I have met the new step mom, and although I was extremely nervous I managed a smile, a handshake and a “nice to meet you”. I’m feeling a lot calmer about the situation. I’m not jumping to have her as my new best friend, but I’m not opposed to a friendship and will let time see where thing take our family. Thanks again!

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E.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

K., I must of missed this one way back when, but I would like share my advice with situation. When I divorced the twins were 2 yrs old. The first woman my ex- hooked up with was a nightmare, he finally woke up and divorced her. The second one he married was a complete doll and we ended up to be good friends. She looked after my boys all the way through high school, even after she and my ex had 2 sons of their own. So I say give this woman a chance she could end up being a good friend. Oh by the way after he divorced her, she and I went out and celebrated together. (lol)

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C.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

I was in the excact situation you were a few yrs ago myself...When it came down to the time when i had to meet my ex's live-in (at my son's birthday party) i was not alone...My oldest sister was there to be by my side (and my hands off her neck) I took a deep breath and counted to 15 and polietly introduced myself and smiled...The first time was very difficult....It does get alittle eaier with time.

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C.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Look at her through your son's eyes...Dad's new partner. Get to know her, she will be rocking the cradle when you are not so it's important that you are both on the same page when possible. From her perspective, she wants to be a part of your son's life but doesn't know him from birth as you do. Share him with her. Enjoy hearing about the things they do together & the interest she shows in him. I remember wanting to be involved with my step daughter's life, not just being her dad's partner. We wanted to be a blended family. I decided to talk to her mom. I asked questions about my step-daughter in a detailed conversation. It was great. I was very interested in who this little girl was that would now be part of my heart & soul. We discussed her qualities & strengths that I had observed and agreed on her bad habits. I had a genuine interest that was recognized as such so it was easy to talk to her mom with no threat of any kind. I remember that first conversation like it was yesterday. It opened so many doors for us as mom & step-mom working together. Falling in love with my step-daughter was an amazing experience. And it was wonderful when I felt her loving me, too. After that, her mom & I were able to call each other to disuss pick up/drop off, holidays & what gifts we were each buying to avoid duplicates and even what Junior High she should attend. I encourage you to guide your son's new step-mom in this direction. Maybe even show her baby pictures & keepsakes. My step-daughter was 7 when we met. Your son is the perfect age to bond with his new step-mom. You're on the right track, so stay focused & good luck.

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S.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

Wow...it sounds as though a lot of your replies encourage you to become "friends" with the new stepmom and I agree wholeheartedly. I made sure I was friendly to my ex's new wife and over time we became great friends. When my ex was dying, she and I sat together to tell "our" children what was going to happen and what to expect. On the night he died at home, she and I helped the children through the process and then together we washed him and put clean clothes on him. When my oldest daughter got married, the stepmom and I drove together to Oregon and went on vacation together with all our kids. We would introduce ourselves as the "mothers" of the children.
We helped each other out during difficult times and when she died this August I gave a eulogy at her funeral. She was a very special woman and I was blessed to have had her friendship.
S.

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E.L.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

Dear K.:
I actually have been on this end of the situation before...and I want to tell you, you will never be sorry if you make this woman your best... um...social acquaintance. I don't know if you can be great friends given the situation...but if you are working together to raise this boy... you will need to trust her. Getting to know her is the best way.

WHen my exhusband remarried, he was wierdly invested in the new one and me fighting. I think he was disappointed. I am like you- I initiated the divorce. I then had no desire to trade a bad relationship for an ugly war in perpetuity so when the time came I met her with a dignified smile. That wasn't what I would call comfortable particularly...but after a few months...I sent a note with my daughters when they went to stay with their Dad... and it said this...and it changed our relationship.

"As a divorced Mom, and not knowing you very well, I of course had concerns about my children in anyone elses care, but I want to thank you for all the things you do. You are clearly a kind and caring person and I rest well knowing they are in your capable hands when they are not with me. Thank you for all you do to bring joy into my daughters' lives. They are very fond of you."

There are of course things that I didnt care for about her, but I ignored them and built on what raw materials I had been given to make a safe and loving place for my daughters. This was my duty as their mother...not to continue with a bad relationship that I ended.

Remember K.- What you feed will grow.
The best to you always:
E. L.

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S.F.

answers from Reno on

Hi K.,

This response is coming from an adult who had three stepmoms and one freaked out biological mom before leaving for college. Here's what I'd suggest...

1) Get to know the woman, whether its a trip to the local coffee shop, a phone conversation or lunch. Remember to actually listen and not judge everything she says. She may surprise you.
2) Realize that she may have a different parenting style than you. If the basics are covered and your son isn't neglected or in danger, I wouldn't sweat the small stuff. If you feel your son is in danger or neglected a polite phone call is the way to start. Charging in in full mama bear mode is likely to be very embarassing. For example, your kid might tell you that stepmom left him alone for hours, you go into mama bear mode--"you're neglecting my son"--and then find out that stepmom spent 30 minutes chatting out front with the new neighbor, something you've done a million times.
3) Avoid at all the costs the "do you love her more than me" bit. It's agonizing enough for a kid to feel like loving another person in the mom role is betrayal and feeling bad about all the conflicting feelings.

And last but not least, don't bad mouth the step-mom or your ex. If you have a real concern, bring it up to them and deal with it. Stick to the issue and don't dredge up the past. Whenever my mom went through an insecurity trip or just wanted to pick a fight, she'd pick really lame things and scream at my dad in our driveway. It was quite a show for the neighbors.

Over the course of my life, I've had three step-moms, three step-dads and more step-siblings than I can count. Looking back, all but one of those step-parents wanted nothing more than to make me and my sister happy, healthy adults. I always saw a step-parent as one more person to love me, one more person to help me grow up and one more person I could go to with a problem. How is that a bad thing? If love is infinite, couldn't that include a step-mom? It certainly doesn't mean your child loves you any less...at least that's my opinion.

Better yet, really irk your ex...become the stepmom's new best friend! <g>

Good luck!

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L.A.

answers from San Diego on

This doesn't have to be painful for anyone involved. I've been the ex wife as well as the child in this situation. Both my step-dad and my step-mom (who came on the scene when I was 4 and 6, respectively) turned out to be two of the best things that ever happened to me. My mother made things difficult, even though she was the one who left my dad. Don't make the same mistake. You need to be a mature and wise mom in this situation and no matter what, NEVER make a negative comment. A child can never have too many caring adults in his/her life, and there is, of course, no chance of her taking your place in your son's affections. But she may very well wind up playing an important role in his life.

My father died 19 years ago, but my step-mom, who is now in her late 70's, is still one of my very best friends. My brother is very close to her, also. How do you do it? Just do it! Don't be one of those emotion-driven people who do things they know they should not. Just be nice. Do not look to find fault, either, because not a one of us is perfect. There is no need for barbeques or phone calls or notes. A level-headed and polite attitude is all that is required.

Divorce seems to be a green light for many people to sink just about as low as they can go with their ex. As if it is a free pass to act badly. My goal, both during my divorce and after, was to maintain my personal integrity. And I did. My kids from that marriage are now 23 and 21, so I no longer have much contact with their dad, but when it was necessary, I was always very careful to be fair and mature and polite, even when my ex was far from it.

Do the same and you will be doing your son the greatest of services, and modeling for him good and rational behavior, and you will never regret it. Your son will be the one who benefits from having adults in his life who care enough to get along - whether they want to or not. It is the most caring gift a divorced parent can give a child. And be careful! Don't talk about your ex and/or the new "step-mom" unless you know your son is 50 miles out of earshot. My mom used to talk about my dad and step-mom over the phone with her friends, and even though she was behind closed doors, I often heard, and it was highly upsetting. Even worse when she would argue with my dad on the phone, or in person. Be the bigger person, whether you feel it is fair to you or not, and don't argue, fuss, complain, or in any way act negatively toward your ex and his lady. You can do it! I know you can, because you love your son more than anything. You will do it for him, and when your son is 23 - and he will be all too soon - you will be able to look back and be very, very proud of yourself for refusing to lose your personal integrity. :0)

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E.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.,

Well it is easy for people to say, "don't let your son go over there if they aren't legally married," but if you have a custody agreement in place, you and I both know that isn't the way it works...unfortunately.

I think this is just going to be very painful for you, and your son...period. There is nothing you can do to fix this, the situation sucks for all of you, and you need to grieve that and know that this is never going to be the situation you wanted for your boy.

That said, for your own sanity you MUST try to accept this woman, acceptance doesn't mean friendship, it doesn't mean a relationship, it just means that you can co-exist peacefully in the same world with her.

I feel for you, and although I'm not in your situation, I can imagine how difficult this is for you. Parent your son as well as you can. This is all you can do, and know that what you are feeling is normal, and will probably come and go over time...especially if the women come and go out of your ex's life.

Hang in there, and work towards family peace.

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S.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.,
I'm a single mom who also chose to get a divorce. My ex-husband met his girlfriend very shortly after our split,
and I had feelings similar to yours for a very short time and realized some very important things, I've never since had those feelings. First and foremost this is about your son, not you...do what is best for him.

Secondly your are his mom, K., and no one will ever replace you as you are one of a kind.
Be grateful that this other woman in your sons life is willing to take on this role. Wouldn't it be awful if she only loved your ex? Be happy that he has other people in his life that love him, and want to be a positive influence, want to teach him, watch him grow. It's a beautiful thing when others know just how special your child is...let her embrace this too.
Your son will be more well rounded by the exposure to other people.

My daughter at three is very clear of her relationships. She knows I'm Mommy and what my role is and she knows what her step-moms role is. She is with them once a month and looks forward to the time spent there, it's much better to see her go with them happy then upset.

I couldn't ask for a better step-mom in her life and I wish the same for your son and his.
Welcome her with open arms like she has your son, and the rest will be easy from there. Spend your days focusing on the worst of this wonderful situation and you will turn it into something ugly for your son. Remember when your feeling down that these are your son's relationships and they are for him to decide the importance of them.
Best of luck!!

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J.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Kill her with kindness and then some! You have the control in this situatuation to make it easy for eveyone, especially your son. You don't have to be shopping buddies but you do need to raise your son together. The 3 of you should sit down to make sure you are all on the same page as to your sons interests. Be agreeable and don't hold grudges and there shouldn't be (much) fighting. If your feeling down and jealous, go for a walk or turn on music and dance, give your son a hug. Get involved in an activity while your son is with his dad.

As far as the shack up honey situation...find out exactly what is going on. this is kind of a catch 22. You don't have much say unfortunately since you ended your marriage but you should have input over your sons influences. Tell your ex that you want your son to learn how to treat a woman right and how he is disrespecting his girlfriend by not marrying her. On the other hand, second marraiges are more liekly to end in another divorce which wouldn't be good for your son either. (My sister is on marriage #3 and we see effects on my 10 year old niece already).
Also find out if they are planning on having any kids. You don't want your son to get the shaft when a new baby comes along.
Just be open and nice when discussing your expectations and concerns about your son's upbringing.
A friend of mine fought her husbands ex for years concerning her step kids. She finally thought she might have better luck being nice. It was extremely hard for her but it worked to her surprise. They rarely argue and the ex comes to her rather than the dad regarding the kids.

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J.L.

answers from San Diego on

Hi K., The first thing I would do is find out if they are leagaly married, if not, and the are living in imorality, I would not have my son go over there. The feelings you are having are normal, Divorce causes a lot of unpleasantries, other than the divorce itself, when you make certain decisions, you open doors and allowed things to happen, that in your heart you really don't want to see happen. If they are married, then you have to find away to co exsit with her, who know she may be a very special nice youn woman. It's not going to be easy, but how you do, is through the love for your son, the better that you and her get a long the better it will be for your son. It's fuuny how when some one lets someone go, it's hard to see them with some one else. But to all you mom's out there who may read this and be thinking aboput leaving your husband, remember on day there will probably be another woman if the life of your husbnad and your child. K. maybe you can send this woman a not introducing yourself yo her, and go from there. J.

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M.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am a stepmom and a mom, and I think being a stepmom just might be harder. It is hard enough to not want my stepchild to feel or treat me like I have replaced her mom, because that isnt what I want. I dont really have the support or any relationship with her mom, so I am already having an uphill battle. Nevermind a strong willed 7 yr old girl. If you can find a way to not think about what you may have lost but to put the childs needs first, and I dont say that mean, you will be doing everyone a service. Your son just might thrive having another mom figure in his life. Kids just want a family unit under the same roof. Something society says is normal. I couldnt imagine being in your shoes with my own child. I would have a very hard time with "another woman" playing mom, but our kids should come first. Hopefully the stepmom is relativly normal. What I might suggest is a lunch or coffee with the new lady in your sons life. It might help things for all of you if you get to know her, just a little. You might sleep better at night. I wish my stepdaughters mom cared enough to know who is helping raise her daughter. Hope this is helpful.

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J.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Unfortunately you are stuck with her, possibly forever.
Of course you feel like you do, that is to be expected and rightly so. However, the sooner you adjust to the fact that she is here to stay (I know, she may not be permanent, but you must think like she will be), the sooner you will make an effort to get along with her. Any thing else will have great consequences and will not be good for your son or yourself.

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B.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.:

Close your eyes, take 5 deep breaths , touch your hearth ,see this new lady with love, send her your love and your respect,and declare peace and harmony within yourrself and around yourself and declare peace to her ,becase LOVE is what you want for your child right? we have to start giving what we ask for anf first than anything put it in God's hands remember what we can not do God can. God bless you on this new adventure. B.

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B.M.

answers from San Francisco on

I'm also a step-mom. My step-daughter is 11 and I've been her step mom for 5 years. My advice to you is be as kind to her as possible...not because you want to be her friend but because otherwise your son will end up caught in the middle. You have no idea what kind of woman she is and whether or not she'll say stuff about you to him. SO- don't ever give her a reason. Always stay above board. I have to do this with the ex when my step daughter starts trying to bad mouth her (she's at that age) and it's tough.

I'm sure it's hard- I can't really imagine actually with my little 1 year old...having someone else be in that role. I always tell myself if I end up in that situation I will be super nice to the new woman, which was the opposite of what the ex was doing, which created problems for the girl.

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J.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

K.,

What an amazing amount of maturity and self-knowledge your message demonstrates. You have a major advantage in resolving this issue in that you aren't afraid to honestly assess your own emotions.

In my situation, I'm the stepmom equivalent, and I know that I serve a purpose for my stepdaughter's mother by handling arrangements for visit so the ex-es don't have to interact as much. So long as it's pleasant for me, I'm happy to do it.

Putting myself in your shoes, I think I'd be happiest finding a therapist or counselor to talk to, to work out the fear and anxiety. That could really unravel the knot in your gut and probably resolve issues in other areas of life as well. Doesn't sound like you really need to involve anyone else at this point, unless you want to.

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C.N.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

Dear K.,

This happens all of the time. For your son's sake and peace of mind about his childhood, you need to swallow and smile. You truly have the right idea, but you are confused right now. Just be cool, and don't talk about it. Don't waste your energy thinking about something over which you have no control what so ever. Just think of making your and your son's lives happy and contented. Stuff happens, and we just have to deal with it. That's all I can think of, just that life is hard, and here you are right in the middle of it. Your son is the most important person in this situation.

He will face hard situations when he grows up and will be glad to be able to look back on the dignity and courage in this instance.
C. N.

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T.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.,

I know it's really hard but I have been through this and my advice to you is to make it an easy transition for your son as possible! I would def. welcome this women into your son's life and if everyone got along and was on the same page your sons life will be a lot easier with this new change! It's much easier for everyone to be friends and work as a team to parent your child. Remember it's all about the children and sometimes we have to do things we might not want to do to make the best of situations. I have gone both ways and being nice and working together with Dad and Step mom is a lot easier then fighting. We want your child to feel comfortable in both homes. I wish you the best for you and your lovely boy!

T.

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E.N.

answers from Los Angeles on

My comments/advice come from the "other side". I am the Step-Mom. I met my husband when his son was 6, he shared custody with his ex-wife and we were very careful not to expose him to me to soon. Once we realized this was a serious thing then we began to do things that involved him, Parks, trips, group outings, etc. At no time was he asked, told or introduced to me as his new step mom. My husband and I were firm believers that the title should not be given until we were married and only if our son (I do not refer to him as my step son)was comfortable with it. Now here is where the advice begins. I would strongly suggest going into this with an open mind. Do not show your son that you have resentment, jealousy, or any other ill feelings towards this woman. It puts your son in a difficult position. Unfortunatly that is what we had to deal with. My Husbands Ex-Wife made it very clear what she thought about me and said a lot of it in front of our son (we have now been married for 2 years) which made him feel bad for liking the person his mommy didn't. Mind you all the comments she made were made without ever meeting me. Our son is now 11 and there were a couple of years where he really did not know how to act towards me. He struggled because he liked me and treated me with respect but he also was afraid to even mention my name to his mother because of the things she said. I guess basically I am trying to say the actions you and your ex-husband and his new partner take are going to strongly affect your child. I do not agree with putting a child in the middle of adult situation. It harms them more then you realize. I would strongly suggest meeting this woman or at least have a conversation with her. Keep an open mind and be able to voice your concerns about parenting your child (if they are married). All parties involved (adults) need to keep the needs your child first. You never know she may end up being a positive influence in your childs life. I am not saying you two need to be best friends, just on the same page when it comes to your child. As for my situation, it took this long for his ex to realize I treat her son as my own. He currently lives with my husband and I and I do everything for him a mommy would do. I drive him to school, make his lunches, take him shopping, love and treat him as my own and create a comfortable family atmosphere for him.
Last suggestion, if after talking with her you realize you and her are not on the same page parenting-wise then you need to all sit down and let your concerns be known.

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L.P.

answers from San Diego on

Hi K.,

First and foremost you need to deal with the jealousy issue, which is completely normal! I'd write down all the reasons you are no longer married to this man and read it anytime you feel that tinge of jealousy! There is a reason you are not together and don't think for one minute he has likely changed. Second, be patient. This has been a long distance relationship for three years and now that they are living together it will be a whole new relationship and a whole new host of issues. They will have a honeymoon phase, and then when that passes their real relationship will begin. I would just make sure your son is completely comfortable. It is critical that you give your bessing to him that it is ok he form an attachmennt to this woman if that's what he wants. Remember, he only has one mom, and that is you!! After a period of time, you may want to reach out to her to have lunch so that you are on the same page, etc. I would wait to see how things progress. The relationship may not even work out. That is why, unless they are truly married, moving into together isn't such a great idea for your son's sake. Patience will be your greatest friend right now. Hang in there!

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M.Z.

answers from Reno on

I have a stepson so I'm coming from the other side. I've been married to my husband for 7 1/2 yrs, since his son was 4. I can completely understand how you feel about possibly having this woman in a mom role with your son. My husband and I have 3 kids together and I couldn't imagine having another woman in their lives. That said, I think a lot depends on your relationship with your sons father. My husband and his sons mom were never married and didn't even really have a relationship. The child was a surprise and we have all struggled with getting along. All of the kids involved, ours and his son, feel the tension. I think you need to talk to your ex about the roll this woman is going to have in your sons life. Does she have permission to discipline? Set rules? Will your son be left alone with her? Personally I feel it is my husbands job to make sure his son behaves in the same manner we're raising our kids and I don't want to overstep my bounds as a step mom. You probably wouldn't feel comfortable with the idea of your son being left with someone you don't know. I'm sure it will take you a long time to be comfortable in your situation, but hopefully you can get there. Good luck.

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M.A.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

I was a step mom to not one but two ex's. It was an adventure in as much as he had left the 2nd one for me when my youngest stepson was an infant. Apparently he had wanted the relationship to go no further, she did, and an "accidental" pregnancy had occurred. So, I started a marriage with 13 and 15 year old from a first marriage and a 2 year old from a broken relationship. The really fun part was they lived 25 miles away from each other and each 25 miles from us. Fridays and Sundays were driving days. Not to mention coordinating holidays, birthdays, vacations, school and sporting events. That would be difficult enough with just regular kids and ex's. But my stepdaughter was extremely defiant and had a very poor relationship with her mother. The ex girlfriend was a functioning alcoholic. And my husband worked nights. He is now MY ex as he can't manage his own life, but amazingly his kids remain in my life. My best recommendation is to keep the lines of communication open as much as possible. Make it clear what you expect when your son is with his father and step mom in terms of schedule, etc. Also, if they are only going to be together for the weekend, don't expect that the homework that should have been done during the previous week is going to get done. If a special outing to a museum, etc. needs to happen for a a project, let Dad and step mom know in advance. If there needs to be 10 minutes of reading to be done each day, let them know during the week ahead. Springing info on them at the pick up is simply not fair. Be fair about holidays and birthdays and other family events including religious observances. I can't tell you how much I love my step kids, especially since I never had kids of my own. They are now 20, 31 and 33 and just amazing.

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E.N.

answers from San Diego on

This is a hard one! I am a step mom for about 3 1/2 years now. Before my husband and i got married, i was able to meet the kids mom, ans i really liked her. I really considered her a "friend", not ones that talked on the phone or went on walks of course, but i enjoyed the short simple conversation that we did have when picking up or dropping off the kids every weekend. It helped that she had a live in boyfriend already, i knew she had moved on so to say.
Once we were married, she caused division between my husband and i. She still wanted to call my husband several times a week, really for nothing. She almost seemed to make up things. It was not fair. Once i started building up resentment for her, it poured over into having resentment towards her kids in my heart. That joy i once had taking care of them on the weekends became a burden to me in my heart because it involved her. I know that sounds strange, but i am just being open and honest with you.
I know they already have a mom they love and adore like crazy, no matter what i think of her. I never try to replace her, i know my part.
While it is hard to you to adjust, it is hard for a step mom to adjust. Remember, step moms love and take care of your chud when you can't be there. Thats who is paying attention and encouraging your child, cooking, cleaning for them in a way dad never could or did alone.
I have heard of step mom stories portraying them as evil..........but there are some of us who aren't! Open your heart and your mind.No one is trying to take you spot as a mother, and you already gave yours up as a wife. There is no battle to fought here.
There are so many years and events ahead. If the two of you ladies have to focus on eatchother, it will rob you of enjoying those events with your son. Like for example "great, his kindergaten gradution, she will be there", instead of "yay, lets go celebrate graduation!" There will so many events. Don't be robbed of your joy because of a woman. Don't compare or compete with her.

T.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

K.
Never an easy thing but I am glad you are thinking the right way (and feeling the conflicting right way too - lol) As a stepmom I can hopefully say she has no intentions of stepping on your toes. The most she will want is for things to go smoothly while your son is in their home. The best way for that to happen is for you guys to work together. Having consistant home rules and routines is so helpful for your son. If you can find a way to reach out and work together it truly does make the whole situation much better for everybody ...... especially your son! She may even be a heaven sent who is much easier to deal/work with than your ex!Good luck to you!

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Y.A.

answers from Visalia on

I've been on both ends, so I offer this advice from the heart.

My step-son hated me as he felt that I was replacing his mother, as much as I tried and talked until I was blue in the face, he's just now getting it at the age of 24.

On the other hand, my children love their step-mother and their step-father. (So much so, that my youngest named his son after his step-father).

I was in the same predicament as you and I decided to take the high road, as their father did with my new husband.

I invited the step-mother to lunch at a quiet place, so we would be in a neutral environment. I told her a little about myself and she told me a little about herself. Then, we proceeded to talk about the children. She was so scared of being the "evil stepmother" that she wasn't sure where she stood. I told her that if she were going to be such a big part of my children's lives that I'd like to keep an open relationship with her and discuss the situations with her that arose while the children were at home and would like her to do the same with me. I went over the children's schedules with her, so that she could know more about them. I discussed the good and the bad of the children and told her I preferred to leave the divorce completely out of it. She had nothing to do with the divorce, it wasn't her fault and I didn't want her to feel intimidated around me. I knew she was probably having the same feelings about me as I was about her, and I was right, she was.

We decided to have lunch once a month to discuss the children and that phone calls in between were more than welcome.

When I remarried, I sat my husband and my ex-husband down together and basically we all had the same conversation. We then, all 6 of us, moms, dads, and kids started having dinner together once a month. It was very awkward at first, but my children were worth it.

We grew over the years, to be great friends. My children understood that there was no way they could play the mom against dad (or vice versa) because the lines of communication were open. There were a few disagreements with the ex-husband over the year, but never the step-mother.

My husband and my ex-husband even became fishing buddies. How crazy is that!

My children are now grown men. They are happy, well-adjusted and at holiday times, it's not a mess to figure out who goes where. We all go to the childrens!

Whether you follow my example or not, I know that you're going through a difficult time. Think not of the step-mother as competition, but as an ally, and you'll get through it!

Best wishes and God bless!

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J.C.

answers from San Diego on

I have been on two sides of this, as the child of divorce and a stepmom. I think it is very important not to talk badly to your children about either your ex or the stepmom. You don't have to like the lady, just whatever you do, don't bad mouth her or say to your son that you are better than her. Be polite and respectful but don't try to be her best friend. she is potentially someone who could befriend your son and help raise him, so just be cordial. Good luck in your situation.

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N.W.

answers from San Diego on

Hi, I am a woman who is coming from the opposite end of the spectrum. I am a soon to be Step-Mom. We have dated for over 2 years and his daughter has spent a lot of time with me. Her mother of course was feeling uneasy about the whole thing. They have been divorced for about 6 years now and I think she thought that he would always be there for her. When she heard of me she hoped I would go away. And when I didn't she decided that she wanted to talk to me. So I called her on one afternoon and had a short but sweet conversation. So that she knew that I was not going to try and take her place. I love her daughter but I respect who she was and that was The Mother. Then when we announced our engagement, she really felt the need to see me face to face. She lives in LA so we took a trip out there and the three of us had a nice 2 hour talk and I think it went ok. My ex also had a similar conversation with my fiance. So there isn't any hostility there. We all realize that we are here for the kids, both my daughter and his daughter and we are helping them realize that we are not here to replace anyone, we are here to enhance what you already have. Now you have an even larger group of people who love them and want to look out for them. I hope this helps.

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L.B.

answers from San Diego on

From the "mom"

-- I read this women’s “letter” and it brings tears to my eyes – she has a very long road in front of her – my advice would be to establish a relationship w/the step-mom – they don’t have to be great friends, but they need to respect each other’s role and work at always doing what is best for the son. I think it’s rare to have mom and step-mom as friends (you and I are the minority for sure), but if their focus is right – the son – they should be able to work through everything else.

From the "step-mom"

I was very lucky to have a mom that respected me as an important person in her daughters lives. We worked together in the raising of them, since her girls were 4 years old. Although neither one of us wanted to meet the other in the beginning, we both new it was best for the sake of the girls. I was very much involved with the raising of them (now 18 year olds), I made sure to ALWAYS consult the mom before making any BIG decisions when it came to them (when they turned 12 they lived 1/2 with her and 1/2 with us) so I became VERY close to them both and developed a friendship with their mom.

The main thing is communication, respecting the roles of each other (especially that she/you are the mom) and the MOST important thing is/are the happiness of the kid(s).

Hopefully this helps...

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L.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.:

I'm the stepmom... and after a couple years of bio mom struggling with my existence, I might conclude that we're friends :)

It took me reaching out to her and explaining who I was, what I was about and what my intentions were and were not. I know that she was fearful and territorial, that is part of being a mother and wanting to protect your child. So, don't beat yourself up for having the feelings that you have... but just give this woman the benefit of the doubt.

It hasn't been completely smooth sailing but it's pretty good and very beneficial to "our" now 7 year old.

I have never tried to "be his mom" or replace his mom, my goal is to be the best step-mom I can be.

Good Luck!

L

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

I'm not a step Mom... but I was wondering... if you all live in the same town, and are amicable with each other... despite the divorce and the "new" woman in your lives... what if you "invite" them all & have a nice BBQ lunch or something, low-key... but then keeping in mind that this is for the benefit of your son? A "get acquainted" and friendly kind of thing... whereby you, the Mom... can then get to know her too... and to perhaps "show" that your are taking your Son's life and best interest to heart and it will also "show" your son, that YOU are in his life no matter what... and YOU are his Mom.

If this woman is amicable to it... then that way you can perhaps get on the same page... regarding "how" to go about raising your son with 2 women in his life etc. PRIMARILY... you wouldn't want your son to get mixed signals... and get "confused" about all the values you taught him.. and have it all un-raveled by a Step parent. If this Woman can "SEE" the benefit of this... and to give your son "continuity" in his life and lessons he is taught, discipline, "rules" etc., then all the better for him.

I'm sure this is not easy, with blended families and Step parents in the picture....but if your Ex-husband and his new Partner are amendable to it... that would be really great for your Son. After all, the child's well-being is most important in all of this.... I'm sure your Ex would see that.

I know... I would feel nervous too, I don't blame you. It's natural. But try not to feel intimidated... the "vibes" a child gets from all the adults involved... is something they will feel. If the child "sees" that the adults are all on "pleasant" terms... then it would be so cool for all of you, and most of all, your Son, now and in the future.

Maybe I"m idealistic in my suggestion.. but well, if I were a kid.... I'd want to see my "family" do this. It would help me to feel better too. Take the ball in your court... initiate something... a get together... or not, but keep your "position" intact.

Take care, and all the best...
~Susan

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J.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.:
First,its important to know, that the feelings your experiencing are very natural.When I divorced years ago,I had the same feelings.However,like you,My two sons happiness and adjustment to their new lives without their father,was my number one priority.I knew,it wasn't going to be an easy transition for them,but I knew, the less drama,the better their chances to adapt.When their father met and married his second wife,I really had mixed feelings. I'd be a liar,if I said I wasn't tempted every once in a while,to voice my disaproval of his choice,or ridicule her lack of mothering capabilities,but,each time those thoughts ran through my head,I stopped myself.Children,love their parents unconditionaly.They will defend them,to the end.Even those children,whom are abused by the hand of their parents,defend their actions,believing they deserved it,because they (Know their mom and dad love them)If a child over hears anyone,bad mouthing one of their parents,they are automatically going to defend and feel sympathetic towards that parent.They are likely to recent the person attacking them.I've always felt,that I never had to say anything negative about my sons father,or his wife, because as they spend time with them and become familar with their personalities,my sons would eventually form their own opinions of them.They wouldn't benifit,nor respect my remarks.The way I look at it is this. As long as my son is treated with love and compassion by this woman,I have no reason to show her anything less than respect.. Another important decision I made at the time of my divorce,was to allow my sons to continue their close loving relationships with family.Not refering to you,but So many become vendictive,and hurt after a divorce,and use the children as a weapon or bargining tool.The children have already had to learn to deal with their father no longer being present.Why would I deprive them or cheat them out of the loving relationships they had built with cousins, auntes and uncles and Grandparents? The need for that closeness was more important than ever for them.My boys adjusted well,and I have no question in my mind, that had it not been for all my ex husbands families love and support all these years,my sons would not have grown into the strong,and compassionate men they are today.K.: when ever you feel that slightest urge,to (fight back) or express regret or envy,over your past,Just look over at your darlin son,as a reminder,of what truely is important to you now.I wish you and your son the very best.J.

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J.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

K.-
I am a step mom & I was raised with my mother who became great friends with my step mother. I feel I am fortunate to have 2 wonderful women in my life. My best advice to you is to set up a meeting in a public place so it's not on your territory or hers & get to know her. You want to know the women that is going to be partially responsible for your child when he is with his father. Open the lines of communication with her.
I was able to do this with my kids biological mother & it was the best thing I could've done for my family. I am able to communicate with her much better than my husband can! :) Go figure!
My kids (step-kids) live with me full time. I have NEVER discounted or said an unkind word about their mother & have always incouraged communication in all angles.
When I was young, my sister & I had problems with my step mom. My mother was able to sit down with her at lunch & talk things out. She didn't have any children at that time in her life, so things were a little wierd for her. Anyways, it was the best thing my mom could've done for us girls. As I mentioned I am so fortunate to have 2 wonderful women in my life.
Good luck with this. :)

J.

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S.Z.

answers from Reno on

There can never be too many adults in a child's life who truly care for, and about, the child. Right now you don't really need to have any kind of relationship with this woman yourself, but you need to encourage your son to have a positive relationship. He will be confused by any signs of jealousy or territorial behavior. You don't want him to feel that it makes you sad or angry when he has fun with his step mom, or if he loves her. Just try to smile and be, or at least act, happy for your son when he talks about spending time with her. He will always be your boy!

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T.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Next time your son goes to dads send a card with him for her, let her know you have no problem with the new gal in his life, that you hope you can be friends considering you both have something in common your son. Explain you understand the dads way of raising him and you have your way,and that you hope she can grow to love him as much as his parents do. Leave an open telephone number if ever she questions about the son.
Best wishes

Mom
you will be the bigger person embracing this, at least then it helps she wont be a witch poo to the kid you hope.

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K.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Remind yourself that it is in your son's best interest for you to take the high road and do what you know is the right thing.

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M.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

Be kind, it always pays off. I am the product of a "FLING". My mom was never married to my father however I have developed an extremely good relationship with my stepmom after my mom passed. I missed out on all the years I never got close to her for fear of hurting my mom's feelings. My stepmother is a wonderful person who is thrilled about her grandkids (my kid.) If you develp a good relationship with her so will you son and that's the most important thing. If he picks up your feelings on the situation it will influence his feelings for his stepmom and that will scar him for the rest of his life. If your best interest is your son then you will put your feelings aside and go with the flow. Give her a chance and get to know her before coming to any conclusions :) I always wished my mom was nicer to my stepmom because she IS like my mom now....Good luck...

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R.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

Well this is from a childs point of view. My daughter is almost 12 and I have been with my husband for 8 yrs. Her dad is very bitter and does not talk to her stepdad (my hubby). My hubby goes to all my daughters functions and has tried to have a civil conversation but my ex has no part. I do have to say he looks like a jerk.
My daughter is VERY close to all of us and knows who her dad is but as she has stated they are both her dad and she loves them both very much. Btw her dad is very good to her and her sister and horrible to me. When she has to write papers, share family and do things that relate to her family she will write about someone else (second cousin) because she is afraid her dad will get mad or get his feelings hurt (as he has should her in the past). It is also hard because he is hardly civil to do any holidays together. His parents have said alot of things about me and her little brothers (from my new marriage) and it is VERY upsetting to her when anyone talks about her family. As she gets older she is starting to see how her dad is and it makes her very sad. So I guess what I am trying to say here is be the bigger person and treat her like you would anyone else. Who cares if she is with your ex you left him for a reason now he is her problem. :) I think if you are nice to her you will get alot farther. You may not be married anymore but you will always be tied to him as long as your son has a relationship with him. Holidays and special occasions can be a problem if you are no reasonable. Good Luck.

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T.H.

answers from Las Vegas on

Hi K.,
You are doing the right thing by asking for advice. It will only benefit your son to do everything you can, to make this as easy as possible for him. I have been on both ends of the situation and I can tell you from experience that taking the high road and learning to let your personal feelings stay out of it are best for everyone. As long as the new step mom is taking good care of him and is being a responsible parent, your son will only benefit from having someone else in his life who cares for him. If you undermine their relationship (your son and step mom's), or try to sabotage it, it almost always backfires on you and no one wins. (My husbands ex tried to do that with my husband's daughter). I took the high road on my end with my kids and my ex, and it worked out great. I also have grand kids from this situation now. My daughter married a man with 2 kids. Their mother is so great about having my daughter as their step mother and us as their grand parents and we love the kids so much. They come out as the winners with so many more people in their lives to love them! I am so glad their mother is not bitter and sees the big picture and is doing what is right for her children.

I wish you all the luck in the world and remember to resist the temptation to find unfound fault with the new step mom, but rather be thankful for the new role she will be playing in your son's life that can be very fulfilling. She can never take your place so don't be threatened by her, but let her take her place as a caring substitute when you cannot be there for him.
Good Luck! Keep us posted!

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J.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.,

I'm a divorce recovery coach, and I work exclusively with divorced moms. I'm also a divorced mom myself to two teenagers. I've coached moms from all over the world for many years, and I can tell you this is a very common challenge. In other words, you're not alone!! :) There are lots of simple shifts you can make that will help you to feel better and adjust to this new transition.

If you're interested, you can sign up for a complimentary half hour coaching session with me. It's completely confidential, free of charge and no obligation. You can request a session by emailing me at [email protected]____.com or visiting my site: SoloMama.com

All my best,
J. R.
###-###-####
[email protected]____.com
www.SoloMama.com

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M.L.

answers from San Diego on

I would say get to know her. Invite her out for a lunch or just coffee. Don't put any expectations on the meeting. For all you know she's a great girl. I mean obviously you have the same taste in men so you already have something in common. I hope that helps.

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M.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

K.,

I don't have any advice, but it looks like you got some good words from other moms. I just want to encourage you and say kudos to you for recognizing what's right for your son even if it's a struggle for you. There's no way to quantify the amount of sacrifice we are asked to make as mothers. Hang in there.

God bless,

M.

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M.Z.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K., the best advice I have for you is to try and be nice to her and your X-husband, it will make your son a lot more comfortable and confident in himself when he goes to your X's house and she is there. I was married to my X husband for 7 years and we had 2 kids, they were 3 and 5 when we split and it was hard on the kids, especially my older one. Now, my oldest is 15 and my daughter is 13 and I have a great relationship wiht my X, although he has never married, he has had girlfriends, never lived with them. I have never met them but I would if he were serious. The kids need to feel like all the adults get along, it makes them happy. That is the best advice I can give you. Being nice and friendly to my X has made it easy for my kids to talk to me about stuff they do over there or whatever, and remember, we chose to have our kids, they did not choose us as parents.
good luck, M.

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C.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Boy can I relate to you. My ex got a new wife pretty quick and I have 3 boys and I struggle with all the things you listed. I don't want my ex but I am still hurt. I am a bit jealous also when it comes to my boys. I get conflicting messages from the other woman and my ex. I'm now at the point where I don't have anything to do with her (if possible). I try very hard not to talk about her or mention her. I deal with my ex only when necessary. Not getting involved with them and staying out of anything I can is the best way, I'm feeling. It's too disruptive and disturbing to be around them. Maybe years down the line things will change. I hope I had something helpful to write. Good luck. C.

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L.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost five years. He has two children, a girl (17), and a boy (12). It is a difficult position, as I am neither the mother, nor am I the stepmother. For your peace of mind, and hers, I suggest you meet and discuss the basic rules of your house, and outline the expectations you have for your child's behavior. This will set her at ease, and you will be able to feel out the situation with her.

Good luck!

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D.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Being a stepmom will be a diffuclt and challenging situation, for you and your son.
Having had a stepmother myself once, taught me exactly how NOT to be the same kind of stepparent to my own stepchildren.
It's all about acceptance. She will never take your place. I would let it be known to his father, that there will never be any displine demonstrated to your son by this steparent, only by you and his father.
But there should be rules that he should respect in her household, when he goes to stay with his father.
She should be treated with kindness and warmth.
Divorce will always be a deep wound and you will grieve as well as your son for a long time, no matter who asked for it. It's a healing process. It affects everyone in his life and Holidays, special events, vacations etc. You will have to compromise alot, for your son's happiness in a difficult time in his life. She will be there, no matter what occasion it is. It will be hard and awkward, but be a class act and show grace and kindness to her. Your son will appreciate it.
The best role model for a child is the same sex parent. Hopefully your son's father will respect your son's feelings, when your son wants time alone with him, and be respectful to his feelings and make him the number one priority in his life. And with you as well.
Take care and good luck. There is a new wonderful life just waiting for you. Stay strong and have FAITH.
It worked for me and I met an amazing man 10 years ago and my children adore him. And I consider my own stepchildren my bonus children.

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S.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

At my house, when my daughter has a life event worthy of her parents all coming to see it, afterwards we go to dinner as a group... And, the introductions go like this: This is Rachel's father, Travis, and his girlfriend. This is my first husband Brian and his fiance. And this is my husband Chris. And, we all sit together at the table and eat and enjoy my daughter's accomplishment. Brian has a daughter, Ashley (21), who has chosen to live with me and my husband, instead of on her own or with either of her natural parents...

We all get along pretty well. There are one or two people in the group that I don't prefer to spend a lot of time with, as they are not necessarily my favorite people. However, my daughter loves us all, and we all know that she does. Because of this, we choose to be the bigger people and find a way to enjoy ourselves when we are all together.

In the beginning this is very ackward. It's not really fun being friends with someone you really didn't get to choose. However, I can tell you from my experience as a child, my daughter's experience as a child, and my experience as the mom and the step mom from different angles, that it is worth it to find a way to embrace these people. Making your child choose will only alienate the child, and make them feel stress... At the end of the day, you will always be the child's mom, and the child will have no reason to resent you if you embrace people in their lives who love them. Because having more people to love you is never a bad thing!

Huggles!
~S.~

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M.S.

answers from San Diego on

I don't agree with some advice below, especially that you have to share your son with this new woman. You are his mother & she isn't. It is as plain as that. And she will never be to your son who you are. However I would suggest for your sons sake & yours, be pleasant, bite your tongue, etc. The more peace, the better.

Divorce is an unfortunate thing for our children, as it brings so many stresses, as you are now experiencing.

Good luck with this situation

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L.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

Right off what I noticed was that your son met step-mom before you did. As a step-mom I wouldn't meet his kids without meeting their mom first. I was also introduced as Daddy's girlfriend. Now going on four years having my husband and his kids and ex-wife who I call wife-in-law in my life the one thing we agreed upon was to always think of the kids first.

Wife-in-law came to our wedding and when she remarried we were at hers. We are really close and share holidays together and a big part of all that is because she lets me be a parent to our oldest two and I respect the line of being step-mom. She knows I love our oldest two as my own and she is a surrogate mommy to our youngest two.

I say this not knowing your situation with your ex-husband as I know that my situation where everyone is a big extended family is rare.

The main thing to get out of my rambling is that the relationship your son has with all his parents is more important than the uncomfortable feelings the parents have with each other and as HARD and I know it is hard as it is all the adults in the mix need to sweep those feelings aside while the children are around and concentrate on them when its just adult time.

Hope this helped. I got most of this advice from talking to my oldest kids Mom so for the most part it is coming from a parent who has to share her children with a step-mom.

Also, having read through some of the response these ladies are giving you some great advice.

Take Care

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M.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

K., Good for you for realizing you have to be the grown up in this situation. I understand that initial feelings are those you posted. I am so impressed that you are willing to put those knee-jerk responses aside to do what's best for you son. Just a simple extending of yourself I am sure would be appreciated. You have to do it in whatever way you feel is genuine and in the best interest of the new situation. You are an impressive lady!

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C.D.

answers from San Diego on

K.,

I am a step-mom. The kids (2 boys) our grown now but I have had a 24 year history. I went through a lot and to long to go into, but the short and sweet of it (especially since you decided you did not want to be with him) is to be gracious and excepting and try to be friendly. You will get so much more, as will your son. The first 3 years she would have nothing to do with me. That was hard on the boys as they were about 2 1/2 & 7 at the time and whenever we drove them home they always wanted me to meettheir mom. we had to make excuses because she wouldn't have it. The next ten we finally became friendly and we never had a court demanded custody so we shared very comfortably each month what worked for all of us. It was very nice. The last 6 years (until the youngest was 18) got ugly and involved attorneys and court and lot of money to attorneys. We are back to being civil again as the kids our getting married (having to be at the wedding together, in our yard) and the kids our giving us grandbabies (having to be a showers, birthday parties.) We agree to be at the same affairs for the kids sake. I will have some conversation with her, but my husband doesn't say much more than hello, and we usually hang at different ends of the venue.
Bottom line is friendly and peaceful is so much more rewarding and is so much more beneficial to all involved. You will get so much more of what you want (as so will they) when you are on good terms to negoiate. Good luck.

C.

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