FOR THE SAKE OF THE KIDS:
Do mom & stepmom really need to be friends?
For many moms and stepmoms a civil relationship with each other seems entirely out of the question. But some actually consider themselves to be friends with the other woman. This raises a few questions: How close is too close? Is it realistic, or even healthy, for everyone to strive to be one big happy family? Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., author of the highly acclaimed book Stepmonster, explains below why cordial, cooperative and healthy boundaries are often the ideal balance, for everyone.
I’m curious, based on a recent post on StepMom Magazine’s Facebook page, is it best not to try to improve the relationship with my stepkids’ mom beyond having no animosity and just keep things respectful and separate? And if so, why? I hardly talk with my stepkids’ mom as a result of some drama last summer but we are cordial to each other in the same room. We used to be closer and I even hung out with her family and chatted with her somewhat frequently. I was considering trying to get back to that but wonder if it would be negative for the kids according to psychologists and sociologists findings. Your thoughts?
Author Wednesday Martin, Ph.d. explains:
“Francesca Adler-Baeder of the National Stepfamily Resource Center summarized findings from expert’s research and clinical experience that when exes are very chummy and cordial and spend a lot of time together, children are likely to experience confusion and wonder why they divorced in the first place and may continue to nurture fantasies of parental reconciliation.
Finally bending over backwards to engineer a “perfect world” for kids of any age post-divorce is not necessarily doing them a favor. While the impulse is understandable to “keep everything exactly the same,” it is not healthy. Things change after parents divorce and helping children develop resilience and a sense of confidence that they are loved is more important than spending holidays with his ex and potentially confusing them, if that doesn’t work for you as a couple. And if it comes at the cost of one’s personal emotional comfort and safety, it is a disservice all around.
To make a long story short, maintaining a cordial, cooperative relationship with healthy boundaries with an ex is healthy for everyone in the picture. Each couple should decide what works for them and check in with each other regularly about it, with the understanding that these things sometimes change over time.”