After 8 years of being in a relationship, my husband and I married October of last year. I met my step sons when they were 2 years old and we have been a separate family unit since. We do not have a functional, remotely normal parenting relationship with bio-mom. It has been a struggle and at times, disheartening and truly scary to deal with bio mom on anything relating to twin step sons. My husband and bio mom have a very volatile communication pattern that. even tho husband keeps to the children, she pulls the past issues card and makes it about herself, not the kids. It’s been a very long, tumultuous journey, but we keep trying because we have the twins best interest at heart. I have learned many things and continue to learn as I schlep through this rocky road of smom-hood.
1. Never engage bio-mom. No matter what she says, whether it’s awful, insulting, psychotic, bullying (always the case) or sincere, genuine, respectful (which, has never happened). Engaging her feeds her fire and that is what she wants; a confrontation. The benefit of twisting and manipulating petty situations and making a huge broadway show production out of it. In the end, husband and I feel emotionally drained and mentally defeated. Not to mention, the children are well aware of their mother’s antics and her hatred towards us.
2. When dealing with children, hold your ground in your household. Stick to your rules and follow-up with consequences for not abiding by your rules. If I need to discipline children for whatever outburst, disobedient behavior or just fighting with each other — i separate them and send the antagonist to his room and the other i keep busy with a chore. Then I reverse roles and keep the antagonist busy with a chore while the other does something else. Then we discuss their behavior and as them to follow the rules, respect themselves and each other and respect me by not behaving this way. Things usually settle right away.
3. Treat children as you would your own. i have done so since day one and they know they can count on me for anything; be it feeding them, bathing them, monitoring them when they use the restroom, helping them with certain struggles, reading, tucking in bed, whatever it may be…i am available to them.
4. I agree with joining forces with husband to become a strong unit with the children. Sticking together on decision making and implementing rules in the house will make for easier upbringing without much static. It’s been a tough time molding the children to be responsible and to upkeep with hygiene and have good bathroom etiquette – every time they come back from bio mom’s place, it’s a complete reset and back to re-learning things we have tried to teach over and over. It’s never an easy process…and it requires patience…which is really really really hard sometimes. =)
5. Love. Love them. Love your husband. Love yourself. No matter what the outcome may be — show stability within your family unit. This has been a crazy rollercoaster of emotions and I am learning, still, every single day. I have to (wo)MAN up and be strong. And strive to build a happy home contrast to what the children have with bio mom, which is no a productive, happy environment.
Children will live and learn – even if they grow up to be complete jerks in their adolescent years, they will always remember which parent was there for them when they needed it the most. I would like to say with confidence, husband and I would be the winners in that race.