My mother and my stepmother, whom my dad remarried when I was a teenager, call each other “wife-in-laws.” Growing up, my father lived in a different state, so my stepmom would come into town without him. My mom, my stepmom, my siblings, and I would often go out to the mall or to eat, etc. I took for granted the fact that my mother and stepmother had a good relationship. I never thought anything of the fact that my mom and my stepfather and my dad and my stepmother would all have Thanksgiving at my paternal grandmother’s house. It was just life.
Fast-forward to the present, where I am raising my own blended family with my daughter from a previous relationship, my husband, our son, my daughter’s father, his wife and their daughter together. Although we don’t refer to each other as spouse-in-laws (because that’s just weird!), I am thankful for what I learned from watching my mother and my stepmother.
Like it or not, raising a successful blended family goes beyond the relationship between stepparent and child; it also relies on all of the adults involved being able to build a relationship of mutual respect for one another, and to collectively parent based on the best interest of the child. Unfortunately, being able to do this for many families seems to be the exception instead of the rule.
Parenting isn’t without its bumps in the road. And blended family parenting can make those bumps even harder to take. But, keeping a few things in mind when interacting with your child’s other parents can make the road a lot smoother.
Don’t badmouth the other parents I don’t just mean no badmouthing in front of the kids, which should be a given. I mean no badmouthing, period. Not on Facebook, not to your coworkers, period. Negativity breeds negativity and having everyone else in your life giving the other parents the side-eye won’t help you in your relationship with them, especially if there are already issues.
Do make sure your kids show respect to their stepparent I’ve heard too many tales of kids being told “you don’t have to listen to your stepmother/stepfather.” As an adult, why is it appropriate to tell a child to disrespect another adult, ever? If you have an issue, it’s your job to handle it with the other adult, but make sure your child knows that he or she has to abide by the stepparent’s rules.
Do let go of the past You may have 1,001 reasons why you feel animosity toward your child’s parent and his or her new partner. But your one reason for not acting on those is your child. And that reason is more important than any of the others. The circumstances of your breakup have nothing to do with raising your child right now.
We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise a child. Your child’s other set of parents are a part of that village. You can make it a peaceful village to give your child the best possible outcome, or a village at war where your child risks getting hurt in the crossfire.
BMWK – Are you able to successfully co-parent with your child’s other biological parent? Do you refrain from speaking negatively about the other parent? Can share your co-parenting experience?