3. If she’s my opposite, she teaches my child something new.
Heather: In the beginning, you want to know what the other woman has that you don’t have. Now, I’m really comfortable in my skin and don’t compare our attributes. I don’t want my daughter to have a Stepford Wife Stepmom. I want her to experience and tolerate different personalities. I don’t really know my daughter’s stepmom, but what I do know is definitely different. Opposite, however, doesn’t always equate to something negative.
Deesha: My children’s stepmother and I get along great, but we have different tastes, different styles and different interests. So through her, my girls are exposed to ideas well beyond what they get from me, which makes them well-rounded. Their stepmom is more into sports and has different political and social views.
4. She can buy tampons, do hair and iron clothes.
Heather: Before my daughter had a stepmother, I secretly emailed her grandmother and asked that she ensured my daughter’s hair was neatly combed and lint free! I also ironed everything I sent! Although I used to irritate my ex, I voluntarily curled his children’s hair and ironed their clothes. We weren’t married, but I wanted to treat them like my own flesh and blood. Not that my ex is incapable. Sometimes women have a bit more practice in this area.
Deesha: It just so happened that my oldest daughter was at her dad’s house when she started her period. She reached out to her stepmother. And, as fate would have it, one of my bonus (step) daughters was in my care when she got her first period. It’s not that dads can’t parent in these situations; it’s that a woman’s presence may be beneficial.
And for both boys and girls, it helps immensely if the child is free to accept help and care without pressure from the biological mom to be “loyal” or hold this new person at arm’s length. Some children struggle to get comfortable with a stepparent’s care. As moms, we shouldn’t compound this struggle by burdening our children with anger or insecurity about “being replaced.” Children have plenty of needs and love to go around.
5. She can whisper a new perspective into my ex’s ear.
Heather: Although my ex doesn’t always attribute things to his wife, I can tell when suggestions come from her. I recall one instance in particular where he suddenly had a different perspective on a subject we disagreed on. I wasn’t jealous that he didn’t listen to me first. I didn’t care how he got to the end of the decision making process!
Deesha: Ideally, your ex’s new partner won’t view you as an adversary, and there may be occasions when she can act as an unspoken ally. She might offer your co-parent a woman/mother’s point of view about child-related matters that he hadn’t considered or that he’s reluctant to hear from you.