5 reasons stepmoms and bio moms fight

5 reasons stepmoms and bio moms fight

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If you want to make a stepmom angry, one surefire way is to tell her she knew what she was getting into when she married someone with kids.

Sure, we knew we were signing up to parent kids who aren't ours, and expected that might complicate an everyday family dynamic. But what we didn't know was just how complex this new life could be. Extra tensions can rise over seemingly trivial parenting decisions like haircuts and pickup times, and planning family vacations involves much more than just finding a hotel with an oceanfront view.

What really keeps stepmoms up at night, though, is conflict with the ex. Whether you're parallel parenting or co-parenting, you're bound to come toe to toe with the person your partner had children with. You both might be in the camp of most easygoing people on the planet, but no stepfamily dynamic is ever harmonic 100 percent of the time. Here are 5 of the most common reasons stepmoms and bio moms come up on opposite sides of the battle lines.

1. Clothes and toys are at the other house

More and more often, the legal system makes it a priority to set a 50/50 custody schedule so kids can spend equal time with both parent. Kids usually come and go between houses with their stuff in a suitcase, and it can feel next to impossible to limit that small travel kit to things you approve of and keep other things at home. How do you tell little ones they can't take their favorite doll to their other parent's house because it belongs here (because you bought it)? How do you guarantee you'll get back that expensive pair of jeans they wore to school the day Mom is picking them up?

It may seem petty, but it's natural to feel attached yourself to special things you bought or made for and shared with your child. And when you drop hundreds of dollars on back-to-school clothing and never see half of it again, it can be a hard pill to swallow.

Other conflicts center around where possessions are at any given time. I remember once in my early stepmom days, I forgot to send my stepdaughter back with the sparkly ballet flats she wore to our house, because she left in a more casual outfit. A couple weeks later, the flats weren't where they were supposed to be for school picture day. This issue can be particularly tough when the two houses aren't close to each other.

2. Holiday schedules

The holidays can be an even more stressful and chaotic time for stepfamilies. When you get married, it's difficult enough trying to figure out where to spend the holidays when you have family traditions to work around on both sides. If you've blended your family, you have to add a custodial schedule, another house, and their traditions to your plans.

Ideally, you stick to the custody arrangement, but even the best-laid legal plans can't account for human nature, extended family, and what time the turkey is going to be ready at which house that year. Coordinating traveling family members, holiday dinners, and switching houses can lead to some serious conflict. Pass the gravy and the drama, please.

3. Parent-teacher conferences

As a stepmom, maybe you help with the homework, do school drop-offs, and attend all of the field trips you can sign up for. But when the parent-teacher conferences roll around, the presence of a stepmom might ruffle some feathers.

Those meetings and the intimacy they bring into the classroom with the teacher, parents, and child can spark sensitivity. Moms might feel strongly about not sharing with anyone but the other primary parent. These territorial feelings should be handled delicately, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to smooth it over. Stepmoms often need to choose their co-parenting battles, and you have to decide whether this is one you want to fight.

4. Doctors appointments

Last year my stepdaughter came down with a pretty bad ear infection. She was with us for our custodial time, but my wife had a long commute the day we needed to get her to the doctor. Upon finding out that I would probably be the one taking my stepdaughter in to get an exam and some antibiotics, her other mom chose to switch her schedule around so that she could be the one to take her.

I felt hurt for a moment. I do think I'm fully capable and can be trusted to take my stepdaughter to a doctor's appointment, and that's one of the perks of having such a flexible work schedule. However, I do understand that her mother felt strongly about one of her primary parents taking her to the appointment, and it's her prerogative to make the choice. This is another "choose your battles" moment. If it came down to the need for an emergency room visit, I wouldn't hesitate. But sometimes I have to just step back and let it go.

5. The title "Mom"

I have never asked my stepdaughter to call me "Mom," and I never will. She has two moms already, and it is not my intention to take the place of either one of them. However, I know lots of stepmoms whose stepkids have asked and are permitted to also call their stepmoms "Mom," and in nearly all of those cases, it has caused significant conflict.

Moms did not sign up to have to share that title with anyone (in a hetero couple at least), and really, she shouldn't have to. As a stepmom, you have a unique bond with your stepkids that no one else can claim. The moment you permit your stepkids to give you a title that belongs to someone else, there's a serious chance Mom might take that as a threat to or even an assault on her role.

When stepmoms and moms fight, there's never really a winner. Even though some of these showdowns can be difficult to avoid, finding mutually satisfying ways to navigate the murky waters is key to smooth sailing in stepparenting life.

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: When Biological Mom Hates Stepmom. Emotional Issues Women Deal with In Remarriage (November 2022).

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