It is incredibly hard to show respect to someone who treats you with disrespect.
One of the most difficult aspects of being a stepparent is the relationship you will have with your stepchildren’s other bio parent. If you are lucky, the other bio parent will be civil and willing to work with you in a manner that makes parenting easy for you both.
In some cases, the stepparent doesn’t get lucky and has to deal with a bio parent/ex-spouse who stirs the pot and causes conflict between the stepparent and stepchildren. An angry bio parent/ex-spouse can cause tension as you and your new spouse attempt to build a healthy blended family.
Although you have little control over how a bio parent/ex-spouse behaves, your attitude can make dealing with any obstacles thrown your way easier to keep your focus on the family and not on the problems caused by an angry bio parent/ex-spouse.
3 Things For Stepparents To Keep In Mind When Dealing With An Angry Bio Parent
Never speak negatively of the other parent in front of your stepchildren.
Your bond will deepen with your stepchildren if you never speak negatively about their other parent. You may not like your new spouse’s ex but, remember, your stepchildren have a deep and life-long bond with both their parents. If you attack the bio parent verbally or negatively in front of the children not only do you damage your relationship with your stepchildren, you damage the emotional well-being of your stepchildren.
Treat your stepchildren’s other parent with respect.
It is incredibly hard to show respect to someone who treats you with disrespect. When you consider the fact that your stepchildren are watching, that pill may not be so hard to swallow. If you put effort into responding to the bio parent/ex-spouse’s anger with kindness you not only move closer to de-escalating conflict, you set a valuable example for your stepchildren to use in their own lives when faced with conflict resolution.
Finding it hard to comprehend showing respect to someone you feel is a detriment to your family, new marriage, and their own children? Below are a few suggestions:
- Never make decisions regarding the bio parent’s children without first consulting them.
- Keep the bio parent informed of child-related issues when the children are in your custody.
- Don’t engage or get in the middle of any conflict between your new spouse and the bio parent.
- Remain calm and neutral regardless of what kind of conflict the bio parent starts.
- Turn and walk away if the bio parent should try to engage you in conflict.
- Always greet the bio parent with a smile and pleasant attitude.
Make sure your stepchildren know you understand how much they love both their parents.
Never put your stepchildren in the position of being afraid of talking about or missing their other bio parent. Show them that they are safe in their feelings and expressions for both their parents and that you are secure enough in your place as their stepparent to share that love.
Your stepchildren are better served if they are sheltered from conflict between parents and stepparents. The less they know, the more secure they will feel in building a bond with you and in the new blended family.
Encourage your new spouse to treat their ex with civility regardless of how that causes you to feel.
You may not like the idea of your new spouse communicating with their ex but, they are co-parenting children and, regardless of how you feel, what is best for the children trumps your feelings. Nothing promotes conflict like parents who refuse to cooperatively co-parent after divorce. You are in a position of encouraging your new spouse to also treat their ex with respect. Use your position wisely!
Find a healthy way to cope with the stress and angry bio parent/ex-spouse can cause.
Although it is important you don’t do anything to promote or extend conflict, it’s also important you not stuff your feelings of anger and resentment toward the bio parent/ex-spouse. You are in a position of needing to find a way to express your feelings that won’t cause harm to the blended family you are trying to build and bond with.
You, of course, have your new spouse but, they have their own negative feelings to work through also. You two may be able to help each other by communicating about the problem in a healthy manner. But, be sure your communication doesn’t make the matter worse by stoking fires of anger.
If you don’t feel safe communicating with your new spouse or, feel you would be adding to their level of stress find a close friend or relative you trust and vent your frustrations. And, if push comes to shove seek out the help of a therapist to help you work through any negative impact the bio parent/ex-spouse may be having in your life and on your role as a stepparent.
Being a stepparent is rewarding and, at the same time difficult if an outside influence causes drama. It has been my experience that if you don’t engage in drama, drama soon dies out. As cliché as it sounds, take the high road if you are faced with an angry bio parent/ex-spouse.