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What would make communication with your SDC's Mum easier?(12 Posts)
I'll admit up front that I am shamelessly attempting to use this board's combined knowledge of step parenting for my own gain. There's nothing stealth or bashy here, I'm just hoping for some advice to make things run as smoothly as possible so am looking for 'the other side' as it were. I am the mother rather than step mother in this scenario.
I split with my ex over 9 years ago. He got married 8 years back so SM has been around for a long time and isn't a new development. My ex didn't really see the DC until a year ago so none of us actually know his wife, just that she exists iyswim? Contact is now increasing and may reach the stage of overnights and holidays at some point.
I think it would be helpful if I could establish some sort of relationship with the DC's SM to help everyone know where they stand if contact does get to the stage of them spending time together. So, I am asking you lot for do and do not lists, anecdata and handy hints of things your SDC'S mum did that helped or overstepped the mark in the hope that I can avoid any obvious mistakes and not start off badly.
If you are currently happy with your DC seeing dad then leave them to it would be my advice. As far as I am concerned any contact arrangements should be made between me and the ex. Obviously he consults his wife and rightly so!
I have never met nor spoken to my DD's step mum as I feel it is up to them to forge a relationship on whatever grounds. If she was little then I would have to trust my ex's choice of partner and see how it goes. If you two develop any sort of relationship in time then great but if not its no biggy.
I would leave her out of direct contact tbh - especially as it's all a bit new. I would keep your arrangements etc through your ex and let him liaise with her about things. If your ex has been not much of a dad until recently going via his DP could rather undermine his status as a parent. He needs to be the one who is taking responsibility for his DCs, not his DP.
Other things that help are:
- letting your ex know of plans or changes to plans by email, and giving him sufficient time to discuss things with his DP before he has to give you an answer
- trying not to speak ill of her in front of the DCs, and if the opportunity presents itself it's always good to back her up, show you understand how she feels, etc.
- if you do see her (at the doorstep, etc) then introduce yourself, be pleasant and polite but no need for real chatting
I've been with my DP for 3.5 years now, but don't have more than minimal contact with his ex. He makes the arrangements, consults me, etc. That's fine. There's no real need for a close relationship between me and his ex.
It really depends. I am a resident SM which makes the dynamic a bit different as I'm always 'chasing' BM(sorry for that term but it fits our situation!) to make sure she keeps up contact.
Over the years we have tried going for coffee (misguided). I do think it helps if you can try to make an effort, it is a difficult relationship so anything you can do to encourage communication is good.
I get on well with DP's ex, and was made to feel very welcome by her (and her family) from the first time I met her, which was about 6 months into my relationship with DP, for DSS's birthday party.
The biggest thing that she does that helps me is that she is just generally friendly, nice and normal to me. As you would be with any other adult in your extended family or social circle. She also subtly (and sometimes directly) lets DSS know that she is supportive of me and of my position as an adult with responsibility towards DSS, and who he is expected to behave properly for and listen to. I am very grateful for this as I think it makes a big difference.
Oh, and she is also very sweet in telling me nice little things that DSS has said about me during the week at hers. Some of them surprise me as he never tells me things like that directly!
We always come together for DSS's birthday and also sometimes for part of Christmas and other special events like New Year. Plus we often have drinks and chat at pick-ups or drop-offs, and end up crossing paths quite a bit at other people's barbeques and parties and suchlike. I accept that level of blended-ness isn't for everyone, but personally I really enjoy all those occasions.
Good luck finding what works for you
River boat I'm jealous of your set up!
I am also the Mum in our situation! Ex's gf is my ex best friend so it's slightly more awkward, but what I'd like from my ex and her would be the opportunity to sit down in a neutral space, like grown ups and discuss the children, the boundaries they have, the discipline techniques they use, any issues they have. Also to discuss and set in stone when they're having the boys purely because currently I don't find out until the day before so making plans is hard.
It's ok if they want to week off from having them to go on holiday but me knowing in advance would give me the chance to plan something.
Both the kids have separate behavioral/health issues again discussing these so we're all on the same page would help everyone, especially the kids.
It won't happen though because ex keeps us as far apart as possible so we've not spoken in nearly 2 yrs.
Our set up is much like Riverboat's. I feel very lucky that my DSCs' mum is very supportive, we like eachother, we speak to each other, and if it wasn't for DP feeling a little awkward, we'd probably be better friends than we are able to be. We also have shared family occasions and it works fine.
We are able to sit down as a group of adults (i.e. DP, his ex, her partner and me) and discuss the wellbeing of the children, and important decisions that concern them.
We don't have exactly the same boundaries, but we do support eachother in the boundaries that are set between the houses, and if it's something fundamental, we sit down and try to reach agreement so that we are a united front to the children.
I think if you haven't met her yet, be open and friendly, polite, and don't criticise her to the children. If you have an issue, raise it directly with ex and her, don't use the kids as go-betweens.
I'm on both sides of the fence, I'm a stepmum and my dc have a stepmum.
With DPs ex I have as little to do with her as possible as any communication usually ends in her screeching like a banshee so I leave her to DP to deal with
With my ex's DP I also have minimal contact, but that is more because I don't feel the need, I trust her and my ex to care for my dc and they both like her and she is nice to them so my input isn't needed. She knows she can talk to me if necessary and if she is there when he drops them off I will chat or invite them in for a coffee.
So overall my advice is just to BE NICE!!! It's surprising how difficult some exes find that but it really does go a long way
I would like to add, op, this is very thoughtful of you and I wish you all the best, I hope my relationship with dh's ex will be easier in the future (we are getting there)
I can't really claim any credit for my set up - DP and his ex were determined to remain not just coparents but friends after they split. The ex found a new partner and had another child fairly soon, both of whom my DP established a good relationship with. By the time I came on the scene a few years later, all I had to do was slot into the existing functioning dynamic.
I do massively appreciate it though, all the more so having read so many awful stories on this board!
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