I'm a divorced mom of three. Every year my kids spend a portion of the holidays with their dad, step mom, and now, their younger step brother. Over time I've become better at dealing with the split holiday, and especially with my children's step mom. As the holiday season moves into full swing, it occurs to me that other moms may find themselves wondering how to strengthen the "co-mama relationship," as Circle of Moms member Emily A. calls it — both for their kids' sake and their own well being.
To help, I've rounded up smart tips for moms whose kids have a step mom, culling from ideas shared by Circle of Moms members and from my own experiences.
1. Appreciate the step mom's role
It seems the world expects the relationship between moms and step moms to be negative. But many Circle of Moms members, including myself, believe that it's important for the two moms to get along and to work hard to make that happen. As Emily A. explains, "A good woman in your child's other home can be your best ally. Early in our step family relationship, my therapist told me that women often end up getting along better with each other than the two biological parents do. We're both women! We didn't divorce each other! If we can get past the stereotypes it's often easier for us to see eye-to-eye."
Ditto. I realized early on that my kids' step mom would play an integral role in the lives of my children. The first time I met her, I thanked her for being kind and caring to my children. I have tried to maintain that attitude over time.
2. Get grounded
The best thing you can do prior to a potentially uncomfortable family holiday encounter is to bolster your own confidence in whatever way works for you. (I always like the ritual of getting my hair and nails done before the holidays.) Knowing that you look your best will help you feel feel stronger and you will be less likely to be fazed by your ex's partner.
Then, as the push-and-pull of the kids between the two houses starts in the weeks prior to the holidays, I repeat to myself, "Don't put wind in your ex-husband's sails," like a mantra. Keeping yourself from going to battle with your ex will ease the step mom's holidays too. For me, staying grounded and in touch with my compassion for all involved makes it much easier to accept compromise and carry on.
3. Reach out to your kids' step mom
Once I have myself in a good place I'm able to launch a quest to maintain a friendly and respectful relationship with my children's step mom. Peace at any cost for my children is my goal at every given moment! When they were younger, I bought gifts for them to bring to their step mom (and dad). Now that they are young adults, I share a friendly reminder that they should do the same, and I also send over a small gift from me.
4. Keep your mouth shut
Many Circle of Moms members, both those who are bio moms and those who are step moms, say that nothing is more imperative than respecting each other. If you bad mouth your kids' step mom or your ex, your kids may feel the need to do the same, or to take sides. There's little good that can come out of that. "Don't make the mom out to be such a bad guy" advises Amanda T., who learned the importance of this as a child growing up in a divorced family. "I can remember every harsh word ever said about one of my parents."
Do you get along with your your kids' step mom?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.