In previous posts, I’ve talked about how to be cohesive, or at the very least, civil with your kids’ biological mother and that may have left some of you wondering “Well, what if she’s not willing?”. I’m so glad you asked! I want you to know that is how the majority of Stepmoms feel! Isolated in our efforts, emotionally exhausted, and wondering if anyone notices how hard we’re trying to blend in.
I’d like to focus this post on sharing some strategies that may free you from that hopeless feeling of being a hamster on a wheel. All is not lost if your biological counterpart is unwilling (for now) to partner with you in parenting the children you both love so much. You can still make a positive impact and it starts with asking yourself this question:
What Are You Focused On?
Often times, when we are overwhelmed in our situation, it’s because our focus is everywhere but where it should be. Think back to why you wanted to be married to this man with these kids in the first place. Why did the benefit outweigh the risk? Please hear me when I tell you that the previous sentence should not read “You knew what you were getting into”. That is not at all what I am saying.
Hardly any of us knew exactly what we were signing up for or how hard it would be. Maybe we thought our good intentions would immediately be recognized and we would be accepted on that premise alone. Now we know better. It takes more than good intentions. Some of us aren’t sure what it’s going to take to have the peace we so desperately long for.
Start with focusing on the good instead of the bad. What about your spouse and kids makes you happy? What actually works about your situation? If you aren’t immediately able to recall anything while reading this, take some time over the next week to REALLY focus on the good things that are happening and write them down.
Next, free yourself from the need to let everyone know you’re struggling. Yes, I know this is hard, but hear me out. It’s going to be difficult for bio mom to even begin to consider extending an olive branch when she stalks your social media and sees a string of passive-aggressive, vague posts about how “someone” needs to stop “hatin'”. She knows exactly who you’re talking about and so does everyone else. Also, your kids are going to probably see it (If they’re old enough to be on social media. If they aren’t now, they will probably be soon.) and all they are going to see is someone talking about their mother. That isn’t good for anybody.
Instead, consider talking to one or two TRUSTED friends who will hold you accountable when your logic is off and will steer you in the direction that’s most healthy and beneficial for your family and in the long-term. In the mean time, enjoy your life and do what you can do in your own home and stop wasting precious time obsessing over situations and people that you have zero control over. It’s hurting you, your spouse, your kids and everyone around you.
We Focus On What We Magnify
It may seem absolutely impossible to even see the good for all of the negativity right now and that’s ok. Let’s break it down and hopefully by changing the following things over time (notice I did not say all at once!), our focus will shift itself.
- What are you talking about? – If it’s bio mom’s behavior or how the kids constantly talk about you or how you can’t believe her parenting style, etc.. STOP IT. Stop it right now. If you’re constantly talking out it, you’ll never be able to see anything positive happen because you’re just speaking negativity into your life. Remember that your words have power.
“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.”Proverbs 18:21 MSG
- What are you thinking about? – Constantly thinking about how miserable you feel because of everyone else’s behavior? Constantly thinking of how if everyone else could just do better, you KNOW it could work. Girl, you know you can’t convince other people that their behavior and/or choices are wrong if it’s focused on how they are effecting you. You have to do YOU regardless of what everyone else is doing…boo.
- What are you reading about? – Did you come to this blog post because you’ve been googling how to deal with a narcissistic or toxic bio mom. What’s that abbreviation? HCBM?
- What are you writing about? – Are you texting your spouse or best friend the latest drama with bio mom or the kids as soon as it happens? Worse, are you posting it to social media and letting the world in on your business? I know you want that word of encouragement and validation, but please think about this: Should there come a day when the two of you are getting along, you’re going to spend a lot of time repairing her reputation that was ruined by a string of angry, impulsive posts on social media or texts to your friends. If she’s doing this to you, think about how awkward it’s going to be for you as well! Further, if you’re constantly spewing negativity about someone, how can you be hoping for them to change at the same time? Impossible.
Bottom line, in order to see the good, you have to magnify it. Even if it’s really, really small right now.
“Give Me What’s Mine” vs. “Make Me Effective”
Is your focus on what you’re entitled to or “the way it should be”? Let me help you. Are you often saying that you shouldn’t have to share your husband’s attention, your schedule, your holidays, your birthdays, or your time with another woman and/or child?
Notice a keyword in there anywhere?
If we constantly focus on what we feel entitled to or modeling the way we thought it was going to be, we lose our purpose! Do you want what’s yours or do you want to be effective? At the end of the day, in order to find peace in your marriage and for your kids, you’ve got to take the focus off of your own needs. There are people in this situation that did not have a choice in it that need SOMEONE, ANYONE to put them first. It can be you!
Before the next round of arguments between parents begins ask yourself:
- Is the control I feel entitled to in my child’s best interest?
- Is the control I’m needing in my relationship (my husband’s attention, the need to one-up bio mom, keep them from a parent or grandparent, etc..) what will produce an emotionally healthy & mature adult 10 years from now? Am I modeling this MYSELF? (little eyes are always watching)
- Is the time control (my schedule, my holidays, my birthdays, etc…) giving my child a balanced and healthy relationship with immediate family members or isolating them from parts of their family? (parents, stepparents, siblings, grandparents)
- Are there any gaps in relationships that I can help to close by letting go of some of this control?