How Sabotaging Stepmoms Hurts Your Children

You expected mothering to be a solo job. You and your husband raising your kids together, with no one to interfere—okay, except the media and public education. You anticipated tender, private moments with your children.

So much for that. Along came divorce. Worse still, your husband remarried.

You didn’t sign up to share motherhood with another woman. Your dream of privacy and exclusivity with your children is shattered. Your profound sense of loss gives way to anger and frustration. As if that wasn’t bad enough, your kids like or even love her, making it more uncomfortable still.

Sabotage: Finding Your Motivation

Frustration & insecurity provide motivation for sabotaging stepmoms.

That dream’s loss may have been sour, but these special cases can make it that much harder to accept your children’s positive relationship with their step-mom:

  • As your husband’s lover, she was the wedge that split the marriage.
  • She’s younger, aggravatingly attractive, and is easier for your kids to relate to.
  • She’s less worldly, leaving you insecure about the “life experience” and maturity level that backs advice she gives to your children.
  • She comes from a different background, and is exposing your kids to different religious or cultural values.

Either way, it’s unnerving watching your children spend more time with a competing mother figure than you. You feel inadequate, your judgment clouds, and you make knee-jerk reactions in protection of your cubs. You catch yourself making unkind remarks about your children’s stepmother and demanding your children’s unwavering loyalty.

You’re just making life hard for her, right? Wrong.

Surefire Ways to Damage Your Child

Woman Manipulating Her Child

Information Warfare

  1. You treat your child like a mole by grilling him about every detail of what went on in the other house. It’s boring and annoying having to do seemingly insignificant reconnaissance work for a neurotic parent.
  2. You censor your kid’s ability to relay what went on at your house. Being unable to talk freely makes your child uncomfortable and unsafe.

Deny Your Child Permission to Like His Step-mom.

  1. You deny your child permission to be himself. You rob your kid of free will, which can make him feel unimportant and depressed.
  2. You force your child to focus on your needs instead of his own. Your child feels less safe and taken care of. Emotional energy towards fulfilling your demands is divested from your child’s ability to relax and be himself. Your child is left uptight and guarded, which can lead to anxiety problems.
  3. Engaging in the role reversal in which your child has to take care of his mother instead of the other way around can also set the stage for your child to become an enabler for people with other problems, down the line.
  4. You discourage your child from being in touch with his feelings, which can foment resentment, anger, and depression.

Forbid Your Child From Cooperating with His Step-mom.

Woman Forbidding Her Child from Growing Close to His / Her Step Mom
  1. Your child’s stepmother and father will become upset with him. Your child is causing problems on your orders, not of their own volition, and now has to take the heat for it. This leads to anxiety.
  2. This negative attention often comes with punishment, which will additionally leave your child frustrated and isolated.
  3. Your child won’t feel like the part of the family when at your ex’s house. It’ll impact his self-esteem. It’ll also damage his sense of belonging (a fundamental need) which, when missing, leaves a void that people try to fill with things like addictions and cults.

How You Hurt Yourself

Undermining your child’s positive relationship with his or her stepmom* also backfires. He will be angry at and resent you for not trusting his judgment and decision to like his stepmom.

*This assumes absence of any major indicators of abuse.

How You Can Fix Things

Woman Being Positive and Optimistic

Empower yourself with a positive and a proactive attitude by taking these practical steps:

  • Have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself. Write it all down and get in touch with the buried stuff that you’ve yet to examine.
  • Evaluate your concerns about the stepmother as objectively as possible.
  • Grant your children emotional permission to like her if she is indeed nice to them.
  • Give them permission to have their feelings independent of yours.
  • Listen attentively to your children. It’ll deepen your relationship.
  • Give your children your undivided attention when you are with them.
  • Get therapy if you still need help processing your losses or establishing boundaries.
  • Reach out to your support system, like friends and family, or join a support group.

Closing Thoughts

Let go. Your old dream of a private, exclusive family life chains you to the past. Releasing it lets you create a new, happy, and healthy vision for yourself and your children.

Most stepmothers won’t come between you and your kids half as much as your fear will.


46 thoughts on “How Sabotaging Stepmoms Hurts Your Children”

  1. These articles are great, but the mothers who really need to read them will never look for them or find them. Wouldn't it be great if you could sign someone up to receive a "welcome to our website" message with a link to the articles?

    1. That's a really good suggestion. I gave this a lot of thought.

      Pay attention to when the person you'd like to see it is using Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site you know you two have in common. When you know they're active and attentive, share the thing you'd like your intended audience to see with *everyone*. Don't use a direct message.

      The major advantage is that you're not directly sending it to your intended audience. This lets you avoid him or her taking the recommendation the wrong way and becoming defensive or confrontational as a result of feeling called out. As a secondary benefit, friends you didn't know would benefit from the article also get exposed to it.

      You have a "get out of jail free" card and create positive externalities for your friends: everybody wins.

    2. There is no mom resource for the mom looking for self-improvement and important information on how to improve our efforts in our child’s life, because “no bio mom would ever think to look at this article or think to look the subject of of our children and how to do better or (honesty “deal” better) get better with step-moms who hate think little of us and think little in general and don’t remember A MOTHER’S CHILD is the most important gift to a mother. Have some respect, if your trash talking, and complaining what they have or want or do in regards to their child and your husbands child is not paying off or anything that solves the child’s problem of getting the best out of life without the parents thinking of themselves or of things about the other. I have given sole custody to my ex because his wife tried 40 (YES FORTY) times to have me accused of her made up crimes I didn’t commit and having to get POLICE CALLS MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY AND POLICE SHOWED UP AT MY APARTMENT AND THEN SHE EVEN WENT AND MET WITH A DETECTIVE ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION AND I WAS DEFENDING MYSELF AGAINST HER LYING TO A JUDGES FACE IN COURT (a judge she was going to get to be her ally and throw me in jail and sentence me to something I never got a chance to state my defense against doing in his court because he let her talk and talk and talk and when I stood up there – dumbfounded how I was even there and by everything she just lied and made up and dramatically started to state fears about me when I never had anything to do with her and not included in her life until a month before and she never met me and never got to meet me or know me other than three times two of which she verbally attacked me at and after I asked her to stop coming to pick up my son with his dad because she screamed at me and talked down to me and embarrassed me in front of my son and my own neighborhood community of anyone who happened to hear or see this woman who I didn’t ask to be coming thet or around or want there anywhere. I was the victim and the step mom I hate I do talk about but not to my son unless in conversation. There is two sides to every story and not all step-moms need “support” (they need to think about what they have and be grateful if our children are in their own family too presence lives, instead of complain or care about the mom (“bio moms”) and talk about kids, as they are not the parents, or not talk at all as much. I found the comments poison. I was sad I thought I was reading a good article and read some good points for myself to remember because I like to learn and educate myself and read especially about family dynamics with regard to making it better or feeling better about what it is is it can’t get better and then better and best and good for children and awareness of determination on children’s behavior in the outcome of their future so as not to cause or cause as little to contribute to anything toward behavior and feelings and negative impact or negative effects as possible. Th n I really realized how much parents fighting over kids and parental control and conflict and parental alienation and ignorance really just saddens and ruins all that accomplishment of the article’s positive effects

  2. So what should we do if their mom is doing all these things? You can’t ask her to stop. (She won’t, and it will just cause a fight.) You can’t really point out to the kids what she’s doing. (You can’t critize their mom.) We already don’t reciprocate (ie, we don’t do these things ourselves). What else should we be doing?

    1. I hear your frustration and concern. I agree that it’s hard to be heard by an angry biological mother. My hope is that the information in the articles will help you develop a conversation between the two households. Express your empathy toward the biological mother about her predicament. Repeatedly reassuring her that there’s no intent to replace her may help her feel less threatened and believe it over time.

      I do realize that it is not possible to do it in some cases. It’s best, under those circumstances, to reinforce the notion of separation between the two households by reminding the children that there are different rules and expectations in the two homes, and that these are just different. Neither is necessarily better or worse than the other.

      Also, if she is saying and doing things to undermine your household, tell the children that you’re very sad that she’s choosing to be negative, and that you hope that she’ll stop soon. Role modeling a positive and hopeful attitude will really help with children, as they themselves are probably very uncomfortable being subjected to the negativity dished out by their mother.

  3. Pingback: 5 Ways Undermining Bio Moms Haunts Stepmoms

  4. Great advice!

    I don't understand why women have such a huge issue with their kids having a Stepmom. I had one, and my Mom would invite her over for coffee. They got along well. I was free to love her and have a good relationship with her (thanks Mom for modeling healthy behavior for me!).

    Additionally, I had hoped my ex would marry again, and my kids would be blessed with another mom to love and guide them through life. But, that never happened.

    I'm raising my stepkids full-time, since they were babies, and their mother causes nothing but problems for us. She's a drug addict/alcoholic, etc….so it's been a nightmare to deal with her. She bad mouths me, my husband and our child together, to the stepkids, and it makes the stepkids angry. They love all of us, including their mom and her family, yet their mom refuses to allow them to relax into their lives, and enjoy the rest of their childhood.

    Enough about me/us!

    I'm enjoying reading your articles,
    pbajmom on twitter

    1. Re: Bio-Mom, I hope that you get this ANN, as an encouragement. I was the bio-Mom, and yes it was rough but I also worked at a counseling Agency for about 13 years, & I grew up in a pretty horrible situation with divided parents so this is from experience on several levels.
      Your kid, whether you’re the mom or the step parent, when they’re little, they’re easy to manipulate – it’s a fact, & the best thing you can do is love that child, set healthy boundaries & good examples for that child because even if that step parent spends a lot of money on them & takes them to places you could never afford, Disney World whatever, that kid may love that step parent or parents, whatever the case may be but if those people talk bad about the mom or the dad whichever the case may be, that kid at a certain young age can be manipulated without a doubt but as they get older, they become more mature in their thinking & they realize who the ‘good parent, or BETTER parent really is & they will love that parent till their dying day for NOT being like that step parent or WHOEVER happens to be the OFFENDER, & I’ve seen that for 60 years of my life because the ones that really hurt the kids – wind up hurting themselves.. those kids, as they mature will NATURALLY gravitate in their hearts/souls, & mentally will become more & more AWARE of the imbalances, & will always love the parent who does NOT DO the OFFENDING wrongs that parents shouldn’t do at any level. Yes, I know it’s hard not to & there was once when my daughter was about 12, I can laugh now! LOL!
      But I got upset about something sitting at a Sonic Drive-In one day & I made one statement, it was very small & then I turned around self-righteoulsy, & said “well you know I really try not to EVER TALK about SO an SO, but sometimes I really do get tired of hearing how wonderful it is when they take you to all these wonderful places, & it kind of hurts my feelings. ..blah, blah..” Then my daughter looks back at me & she said “you’ve said stuff before Mom, about how her & Dad & her did this one & something else once..” wow..I was amazed! I truly did NOT even know that I’d made these little remarks before. But i set there for a few minutes in that drive in & apologized to her & talked for about 5 minutes AND prayed that God would help me to never do that again. And it had been my goal from the beginning not to but what I didn’t realize is that I had just let something slip a couple of times & because it wasn’t anything super ugly it didn’t stick in my mind that I had ever said anything negative about the step parent. It’s easy to do an no one’s perfect but as several people have said just do your best and leave the rest beside the road or in God’s hands, whatever, where you leave it! BUT Down the road one day, you will be blessed in the end for being the better person about your kids.

  5. I'm waiting for help on how bio moms can deal with a SM that just bitches and bashes us. It seems the bio moms get a lot of flack, but for us good bio moms out there dealing with the SM that is unhappy-what support do we have?

    1. Cynthia Freeman

      Not all moms are sabotaging the stepmother. Some stepmothers do it by themselves. Many give lip service to wanting to get along with mom only to show differently with her actions. When things are said to the kids like “my house, my rules” it can be undermining the other parent if what they say isn’t affecting the house, just the kid. Or expecting mom to communicate with the stepmom when the mom would rather work with the other parent can cause issues as well. Sometimes SMs have good intentions, but they let those cloud their judgement. Sometimes the kid simply don’t like sm, also. That is rarely taken into account on these types of articles, mostly because it is just easier to blame mom when her children want nothing to do with stepmom. Personalities clash even with kids at times. Coparenting that happens between the mom and dad is what should be happening. Supporting the parents in their goals and how they raise their kids is going to bode better for the sm/mom relationship that so many say they want. Forcing yourself into the parenting scene isn’t going to help.

      1. I can’t agree on the parenting part. I am a SM and BM always wants to co-parent with Dad and not me BUT expects dad to co-parent with SD plus she always flirts with Dad or says things extremely inappropriate to Dad just to cause problems when SD isn’t around. So it’s to the point that we chose to only communicate via email so we can chose to parent how we want and the fact that BM is nothing but drama anyways.

  6. I hear your frustration and agree that there isn't enough support for bio-moms. Stepmothers have been much more vocal in the social media than bio-moms. I work on developing an understanding and empathy between bio-moms and stepmoms. I wrote an article on how stepmoms sabotage bio-moms, hoping to open a conversation between them. 5 Ways Undermining Bio Moms Haunts Stepmoms
    We need to remember that it is in our children's best interest for the the homes to co-parent and co-exist respectfully and harmoniously.

  7. My daughter's step mother is extremely jelouse (I assume) as she refuses to let my daughter talk to me when she is at her dads house, refuses to let our daughter's father spend any time alone together, she badmouths me constantly to everyone and brags about how much better of a mother she is than me; bio dad loves this behavior and gives her kudos. I think she is like this because she has low self esteem, as far as I can tell he married his secretary because he wanted a trophy wife and someone he could continue to "boss" around to stay home and do the dirty work (clean house, make food, take care of his kids). Happy people don't behave like a-holes, I think she is probably pretty unhappy : (

    1. Erased by hate

      Wow, you have written a piece of my story, except she was a co- soldier with him in Iraq, and I think it is frustration the women deal with when they truly believe starting out that they have gotten some huge prize, that they competed and won our husband, that they are better because he chose them, but then they see that we just let him go and then reality sets in and he is a jerk and they wonder what the heck they did ahd we know exactly what they did and they know it. My ex said he thought I would be more kf a trophey wife when he left so you are right about that thought. Hard to believe that archaic idea could stil exist. It is impossible to understand how the woman is still jealous of me when she stole my husband and our kids but she would not continuously harrass me if she was happy with herself. I wonder about her childhood and what made her hate her own mother the way she does and was it her dad alienating her, as my ex’s mom alienated him from his dad. I really just pray someone else could love my kids since their dad doesnt let me even see them. How could he ruin everything we had with our daughters and erase me too, just to make jt ok that he could not keep his thing in his pants in iraq? He has legally bullied me into a pit of nothingness and my daughters forget they had loving childhoods with a loving mom and perfect grandparents who took them everywhere. My ex got his karma because all he cared about was having a trophey wife and she got fat, something he always said he would leave me if I did. I am just so tired of hate-filled articles that take one side over the other when each situation is different and making generalizing statements is oppressive to those that have the opposite story.

  8. My stepkids mother does everything she can to hurt her children, including many of the things in this article. She claims her daughter has just been diagnosed with moderate autism, but I am a mental health specialist AND i have just gone through ASD assessment with my son so it is blatantly obvious the girl has ZERO signs of autism. This woman is sooo dangerous, I believe she has factitious illness disorder and histrionic personality disorder….but try getting the kids to a safe place when the MOTHER has all the rights. This particular woman abandoned her kids for 18 months then stole them off he father alleging he sexually abused the kids. Sometimes the mother is NOT the best person for a child or children to live with.

  9. frustrated and lost

    This hit close to home. My husband and I have not heard from his son in over two months now. He was pretty close in our lives at one point and I had a good relationship with him. His mother has some personal issues and every time things would go good for our side she would get all defensive, threatening, and using him as a middle person at times. Then he had a breakdown (still not sure why cause he would never tell us) and she has slandered our name ever since. She has been emotionally abusive to my husband numerous times to the point he won’t talk to her. I at times could communicate with her but then she trashed me an then be nice and then trash again saying I was trying to control things. At this time step son is 15 and she has primary custody and it is pointless to fight anything. Do feel the courts were right by awarding her primary custody hen she is single and we were married? (especially considering she had no job on disability at time). No but she already had made her mind into his and he chose her but as said up above can’t say anything about her cause then they get defensive.

    1. Hi,

      I am so sorry that you are experiencing so many challenges with your husband’s ex and your stepson.

      It sounds to me that she is demanding his loyalty, and whenever he seemed happy at your household she felt threatened. Unfortunately she did not choose to process and heal in therapy. Instead she pressured her son to disconnect from his dad and you. It is ‘Divided Loyalties’.

      Your situation is considered high conflict. Your husband needs to consult with a local attorney to find out what can he do to help his son, and to have regular custody time.

      It sounds like your stepson felt compelled to take his mother’s side, but clearly he is not happy about it because he had a breakdown.

      You may want to read on parental alienation and see if it fits your situation.

      Also, check the Bill Eddy’s website, He wrote some books and a lot of articles, which I think you’ll find helpful.

      Hope this helps.

  10. Can I suggest something? This article has a pretty bad tone. All the suggestions for why the marriage split up…why does the first thing have to be that the stepmom caused it? A lot of the time it’s the biomom that ends things and then can’t live with the aftermath of someone stepping up to do her job because she refuses.

    1. THANK YOU! Well put, and precisely what I thought when I read that list. Biomom in our family is a pathological liar (sobstory-ing to hubby about cancer when really she was undergoing cosmetic surgery for example) and routinely undermines the intensive work we’ve done to raise my SS. He lives with us full-time and only sees it speaks with BM 4 days a month… Yet she makes outlandish claims that she is the one raising him to be good and just. I’m sorry, but she gave up custody uncontested when he was young, and only is present in his life when it is convenient for her. Saddest of all, SS sees through the lies and, on his own accord, recognizes her as the “fun parent.” What the article said about BMs sabotaging themselves is spot on, because it has allowed me relationship with my little sunshine flourish!

  11. Love the article – wish it had been written many years ago as I would have made sure my Stepsons Mom got it. I am both a Bio and a Step Mom so had to deal on both sides. By being a Step Mom, I learned what not to do as a Bio Mom with my child and ex and his remarriage etc. Unfortunately it didn’t really state with how to deal with a person intent on parental alienation. My step son refused to have anything to do with his father (as a teen) due to his Mothers problems with the divorce and was alienated from our family for years, has since come back into our lives. We now need an article or professional to help on how to deal with this as it is almost as difficult. The family was never truly blended or given the chance for it and the child who is now an adult is still angry and hurt inside over the divorce. And even worse still does not truly accept the other members of this extended family – so much so that now some of them do not see him as a real family member. He was undergoing counseling but seems so angry with us while still seeing his Mom as a victim. Worse yet, as an adult he is trying to undermine our household by using guilt and manipulation tactics he learned from Mom. I only hope that someday the court system will put parents going through a divorce into mandatory counseling and watch what the parents really do to their children.

  12. I have been struggling with this. I’ve tried talking to my daughter’s father about how our daughter comes home in tears sometimes. Him & i can talk without fighting, but usually says none of it is trye. I try to teach my daughter to treat others with kindness cause that’s how we want to be treated. She comes home saying she gets treated worse than her SM’S children & doesn’t like being around her.

    My other issue about her SM that I have is, she’s has had her children taken away twice for drugs (before she met my ex). She constantly drinks now that she doesn’t do drugs anymore. My daughter is not comfortable with it, cause her dad & i never drank except when we had a sitter & went out for a dinner. I’m not sure what to do. I’ve tried talking with SM, but she lashes out. I want my daughter to have a relationship with her father, but I’m afraid for her well being. It breaks my heart to hear my daughter come home & tell me things. She’s very honest cause we’ve raised her to be that way. Yes, kids tell stories here & there. We are stuck in a rut. What can we do??

  13. My husband and i lost contact with his daughter about 3 yrs ago…my kids asked if they could invite his daughter to the mall so they could have some fun browsing and do lunch…his daughter was about 15 and mine were a few yrs older…when we asked his daughter if she would like to join them she dropped her head down and said she couldnt, so we asked her why not, she told us her mom said we are not her family…so instead of pushing further with the daughter we questioned his ex..she told us we are not her family because a piece of paper doesnt make you related only blood this woman is no stranger as to how blended families work since my husband was her second husband..she had 2 much older daughters from a previous marriage…her older daughters were already in their early 30s when my husbands daughter was 15…when we told his ex we are her family too a huge fight broke out and havent spoke to or seen our daughter for almost 3 yrs..we called the courts and they told us since shes now over 18 theres nothing that can be done she can make her own choices…which sadly are mommys choices…so we hope and pray one day our daughter will realize we are her family too and want to see us.

  14. Thanks for the article. I’m a mom and recovering SM (now divorced). I did not find it hard to share my son with another woman. I didn’t agree with a lot of their choices around food, entertainment, etc., but we got along fine and worked well together around things like schedules, holidays, etc. We typically greet each other with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

    I own experience as a stepmom was very different. My husband and his former wife fought bitterly and continuously for the 12 years we were together. They called each other names and badmouthwd each other to their child. Holidays were a disaster because they wouldn’t preplanned, and then the morning of, they’d be on the phone yelling and arguing and hanging up on each other and then calling back. It was exhausting and toxic. In the beginning, when I was in love, I believed my husbands negative stories about her, but a couple years and, I realized that she was a decent person, perfect, but a loving mom doing the best she could under the circumstances, and I came to realize that he was more of the problem than she was, which was awkward, to say the least. He was also very rough on his son, verbally abusive at times, in my opinion. The last half of my marriage The mom and I were on friendly terms, occasionally collaborating on Chtisrmas gifts for my stepson or meeting for happy hour. Once, we met for happy hour and another patron was so impressed to see a mom and stepmom being friendly that he bought our drinks. I am no longer married t I am no longer married but we still get together a couple times a year.

    Sometimes dad is the problem more so than the mom or the stepmom ….

  15. I whole heartedly do not agree with this article! It has to be written by a step mother for sure. My SM I’m dealing w over steps her boundaries constantly, takes my son for his fathers visit when he is out of the country and is so arrogant it’s gross….
    I will always tell my son he doesn’t have to listen to her and she isn’t his mother. He needs to know the truth and no a piece of paper doesn’t make her anymore related to him then them not being married. She has no rights over him and no say.
    A lot of SM over step their boundaries and it isn’t helpful! They need to butt out!

    1. I hate this article! It’s definitely written by a step mom. I have so much hate for her; I can’t explain. She wants to do nothing with me.. she won’t say hi, won’t even look at me in the eyes… and she comes to teacher conferences! My kids stay in her house half of the time and I just can’t handle this! She can’t have kids; so she thinks she is the mother! Oh by the way; they aren’t even married yet… they are engaged! I am thinking to friends get for the full custody just bec of her and my ex is so stupid ! He just couldn’t be a man again! Have all the controllers to her and she has no intention to make things better between us. She wants this stay like this.. we have a teacher conference soon and she will be there. I will tell teacher to get her out!
      How hard is it to get the full custody… I need a lawyer

      1. Yes, you are right. The article is written by a stepmom. I am also a bio-mom though. I hear your frustration as to your ex’s wife taking over the parenting in his household. Your ex is allowing it. He has the power to stop it. High conflict co-parenting counseling may help improve your co-parenting relationship. It will be in your children’s best interest if you succeed to resume a co-parenting relationship.

    2. That is just a horrible attitude. Each person is a individual and each person has their own life and home to lead- its horrible to think that a woman would instill rebellion into their own children’s hearts. Plans should be mutual and not dictated by one person, my gosh think of the human you are role modeling for. Yikes.

    3. Ever since my ex husband met his gf (they’ve been together for at least 5 yrs and my daughter calls her, her stepmom and her son, her brother) and apparently this woman was going through an ugly divorce when she and my ex met and I have been paying the price ever since. My ex husband has had custody of my daughter (which was supposed to only be temporary) but this woman has made my life a living Hell, she has COMPLETELY turned my daughter against me and her father just joins in. At this point he’s become just as vindictive as she is. They do nothing but try to keep me out of my own daughter’s life and they’ve convinced her I’m this horrible person. When she’s with them and I’m there she acts stiff and like she’s just terrified in general, she literally afraid to hug me in front of either one of them! But when she’s with me and they’re not around she’s a COMPLETELY different kid, loving and hugging me…it just hurts so bad

    1. I hate the term bio mom too! I am the mom!!!! She is a stranger! Kids don’t need a second mom; they already have one! I just don’t know how to handle this situation. It’s killing me deeply

      1. While I understand how challenging it is to accept that your children have a female parental figure in their dad’s home, I believe it is helpful to moms and children to find a comfortable title for dad’s wife. We as a society need to improve the titles and role definitions. We need to work together so we can create a safe emotional environment for the children. Stepmoms do develop relationships with stepchildren. Ignoring stepmoms (or bio-moms) is not helpful to the children. Please consider what you can do to help your children transition between homes comfortably. The quality of your relationship with your children depends on what you contribute to the relationship while you are with them.

        1. I hate that my daughter calls me bio mom and birth mom when she comes back from her dads and calls her step mom “mom”. I’m the one who is with her 12/14 days. She also gets upset if I accidentally say stepsiblings instead of calling her stepmoms kids her real brothers and sisters. There’s also the issue where her dad refuses to talk to me about visitation pick ups and drop offs and delegates everything in that regard to his wife when sometimes she shows up at my house and asks for surprise visitation as a gift for her husband.

          1. You need to establish firmer boundaries between the households. Your daughter needs your empathy and compassion that you know how confusing it is to live in two households. That it’s hard to decide who to believe. She needs to hear from you that you are there for her, and that you expect to be respected at your home. She can respectfully express her opinions, but she can’t correct you, as you are entitled to have a different opinion than the other home.

  16. So what if the new stepmom is horrible, talks ugly to the 5 year stepdaughter about the mother. What about when the new stepmother insist the child changes her appearance, and the father could care less about anything. The child is spending their time with stepmom and not dad, when you are not allowed to speak to the father only the stepmom,

  17. So true that we should make the children comfortable. I’m an adoptive mom of the “home of origin” and step mom “doesn’t want to parent”… how do you deal with a SM who is using foul language, undermining parental morality, and encouraging lying to the “actual mom” by text to the 14 yo child while she is AT HOME with the custodial mom??? I think that is beyond awful, it’s undermining and unwelcome! How negative and destructive! I’m left with this mess…. what an incredibly AWFUL situation!!!!!!!!

  18. My ex left me with 2 very small children for a woman who almost immediately overstepped the boundaries. She never allowed my children to get close to their father, sent them home on Christmas Day one year with all of their belongings at their dad’s house to punish because she thought they didn’t visit enough. She visited me at my place of work before they were married and wanted me to account for what I spent the child support on (mortgage, food, clothes etc.) She signed my kids up for a dance class which I found out via my kids and then I had to pay for half when I couldn’t afford it. Everything has to go through her or she becomes mad and made life miserable for my children. I wish with all my heart that my ex would have married a nice woman, but she’s a terrible person in my opinion. I’ve tried to like her but I just can’t. When the last child support check was written she put pennies in the cents area just to be mean. The support payments were based on the state guidelines and and agreed to by my ex. It took every bit plus my income to live. They never contributed to college.

    1. It is too bad that your ex allowed his wife to mistreat your children. It sounds like it was very stressful and painful to see your children humiliated and shamed. I hope that you have been able to provide damage control, and help the children recover from the toxicity they experienced at their dad’s home.

  19. I’m a mom of 2 and my children have a stepmom at Dad’s. She’s ok as a person and I also get along well with my ex. He and I have shared custody + residence. (I hope it’s the right word, I’m not a native English speaker)

    Lately I’ve had this sadness and jealousy towards their blended family. As if they had the ‘real family’ and I didn’t. (I have a partner too but we’re not planning on living together now.) I also worry that my youngest might start to love her stepmom more than me because of this ‘real family’ arrangement at Dad’s! I don’t know if that’s even possible but I still worry.

    On the other hand, I’m critical towards blended families in general since they always seem to pose some problems. This is one of the reasons I don’t have one myself, but a part of me misses the family feeling. I know that my ex’s blended family is no fairytale either and my oldest actually hates the stepmom :( I’ve tried to be supportive and diplomatic, never undermining stepmom or Dad.

    I’m puzzled by my mixed feelings!!

    1. Thank you for your honesty Lily. Biological mothers often feel threatened by step mothers . Children need their parents to be in their lives even after remarriage. Your children your emotional permission to like their stepmother. That will help them feel more bonded with you as they will feel that you have their best interest in your heart. Your relationship with your kids is solid, and it’s up to you to keep it growing. It is true that remarriage is challenging and requires much patience and love. Stepfamilies are real families, and so are single parent families. It is important to choose a spouse carefully, go to pre-remarriage counseling, and individual counseling so you can complete the emotional divorce so you can be free and healed.

  20. Hi, I don’t see my particular situation addressed here so here goes. Myhusband has a 3 year old daughter who is full of life-just lovely. Her mother at her birth claimed dad was not the father, then when the DNA proved he was, she ran out of state with the baby so he could not form any type of relationship with the little one. She only came back to the state we live in now because she ran out of money. He requested to be placed on child support for obvious reasons. At first she refused to accept the child support payments because she didn’t want him to gain visitation. Through a 3 year battle she has subsequently been remanded to supervised visits only. The main reason for this is that he established proof of a pattern of munchausen by proxy behavior with mom on her visit weekends. Several times the baby came home smelling like s&*t! She has attempted twice to hire someone to kill him and/or myself. We both tell the little one that mommy loves her but that mommy and daddy don’t get along and that’s why they live in different houses. At her age she doesn’t really understand it but we try as much as possible to keep everything consistent. Mom throughout this has attempted to tell me that dad raped her, I’m too stupid to think for myself, etc.. I believe that she is trying to make everyone close to him turn their backs on him so that he has no support. I believe is more than capable of violence where this little one is concerned and so my question is, how do I relate to that? I do not feel safe talking to her in any setting, nor would I ever give her personal information about my life. At the same time this little one deserves to know her mother. Mother also has failed 4 drug tests for a combination of meth, cocaine, weed and heroine. Our lawyer has discussed potentially me adopting the baby so that she has a stable environment and foundation in life.

  21. I get the point . But in the big scheme of things . The second wife has not right to be with our kids. She may have a legal right since she is Mattie for the dad but no moral or ethical one.
    The dad chose this when the children and I didn’t want it . As far as I am concerned he chose to be selfish . It is all on his shoulders . The kids want nothing to do with her . She lives in another town and they refuse to sleep under the same roof . So either he stays in his place when he has them in our town or he loses them . We were a family and she broke it up and she will never be accepted . It is time men behaving badly got the news on all levels that #metoo pertains to destroying their kids lives too .

    1. Well I sure hope you never fall in love with a man with children and a bitter ex coaching her kids to be hostile towards her and your ex is not being selfish by having a new partner

  22. Scales Of Justice

    You’re kidding right? 90% of all divorces are initiated by women. After divorce the mother in most cases has the children living with her. If not, the mother must have done something seriously wrong as courts almost always award mothers primary custody by default. Fathers get to see their children for a fraction of the time the mothers have them. And if that time happens to include another woman, it’s still just a fraction and could never compete with all the time available to the mother. The solution of course if for parents to stay together. But it is all too lucrative to get divorced for women. To the very FEW women out there who’ve gotten a bad deal: the family court is STILL on your side. Try be a man who has done nothing wrong, having your kids ripped from you and watching them grow up from a distance while having to fork over tons of money every month because a woman felt “discontent” in her marriage.

  23. Alert! Never trust the stepmother. Here is what my daughter’s stepmother did to us.
    I was the easy going biological mother who embraced SM coming into my ex’s life. He had been in other bad relationships before and this woman came into his life when my daughter was 11. I even suggested that he should marry her. She seemed to be a nice and carrying girl. I had no problem with SM coming to pick up my daughter alone, I communicated with her sometimes about important matters through text, we had conversations at the door when picking up my daughter, etc. After seven years my daughter went away to college and SM continued calling her and giving her “advice“. My daughter started not doing well in school and constantly wanted to go back home to SM‘s house. Around the same time she started calling her father‘s family her family and her SM’s daughter from a prior marriage her sister. Little by little my daughter started being very distant from me, not sharing with me details about her life or new relationships with boys, etc. Then one day she told me that she wanted to leave college and go live at her fathers house. When I try to talk to dad about it he told me that I wasn’t going to change his mind and he was going to do whatever he wanted. Eventually they took my daughter from college and moved her in to dad and SM‘s house where she lives right now. My daughter stopped talking to me for nine months and barely communicated after that. In hindsight, I now realize that my good nature betrayed me. My being supportive of SM made my daughter believe that SM was better than I was. Now she trusts SM and loves SM more than she loves me. We now talk locational he and she tells me that she wants to live with her family forever and she will never live with me again. I raise my daughter on my own being a single mother since she was born . I gave her all the love in the world, all the support she ever needed, and everything she ever needed because dad wasn’t that helpful. I never spoke badly of dad and I am braced SM when she came into our family. And all of that was repaid by turning my daughter against me I am making her betray me. I learned a lesson too late. Please watch what you’re doing and do not trust SMs.They’ll leverage you and use you to gain your children’s affection and then they’ll turn against you and stab you in the back and take your children away from you. I’m writing this because I don’t want anyone to go through the suffering that I’ve been going through because of my daughters SM. Thanks for reading.

  24. Jennifer Talbot

    Some one made a comment in regards to how mothers won’t be looking for this info. Well, in that light, I was going to suggest that knowing your audience, you be sure to talk about how stepmoms could attempt to be decent and respective of their stepchildren’s mother. The tactics you mention are employed by insecure step moms as well, who knowing their husband left you for them, and not finding anything that would keep him from doing it to them, have to make you out to be something you are not, and get your kids to agree with her, especially after the novelty of the affair has worn off and they are simply a married couple and she is freaking out and needing there to be SOMETHING that makes her feel secure in her wavering relationship. Maybe you speak to those stepmoms on the same coin while you are busy pandering to your audience, maybe add that it goes both ways and that just because you may be able to get your step kids to agree with you, coincidently directly following being punished for something, does not mean that they hate their mom and want you to be their mom instead. Even if they say that. Kids play sides and it is our job to not let them, to realize they are trying to say what they know will make us happy with them, and not allow this to be where you BOND with them. No matter HOW much you think you deserve her kids more than she does or how good it makes you feel about yourself at a time when your husband does not so much do so anymore. The MOST IMPORTANT THING IS NOT YOUR EGO. It is those kids. It is being adult enough that when the tell you they hate their mom because they got their phone taken away, that you resist the urge to agree that she is mean and deserving of hate and find out what they are being punished before and realize that it is OK TO PLAY FOR THE SAME TEAM AS MOM. You can tell your stepchild that they would still have their cellphone if they had not cheated on the test, stolen someone’s yearbook, or snuck out of the house to see a boy. You can also, even though it isn’t going to win you any popularity contests, support abstinence and not insist on being the “cool stepmom” who gives them birth control at 14 years old and pierces their belly button secretly at 12, telling her to hide it from mom. I was done so horribly by my kids stepmom that it has made me not care that my stepdaughter hates me and disrespects me because to her it is how she respects her mom, and that relationship is so important to remain intact. As much as the internet would have everyone believing that stepmoms are all completely innocent and pure, “loving their step kids like they are their own”, there are some that take that a step further and must MAKE them their own. They never feel bad about it either because all the articles they read are about toxic moms and angel stepmoms. They are not ever even made to feel like teaching kids to hate their mom is wrong. ‘Daddy ditched mommy for me. Don’t you want to be cool like daddy?!”
    I have been erased.
    I never treated her poorly.
    Your article describes what she did to me, and I never did those things to her. I did everything I could to make peace so we could all be successful and happy parents, and all have a chance to empath wisdom and love upon them. And enjoy the amazing little ladies they had become. There is a huge whole in my heart and I will never be the same. Two have realized what happened to them, they call it being “Coralined”, but what has been taken from me will never be repaid. It could not be. It has irreversibly and unfathomable damaged my existance on this planet and my ability to find purpose.

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