Facebook. You love it. You’re addicted to it. You hate it with a passion. Especially when it comes to the ex-wife or stepmom.
Here are the snarky, ego-filled thoughts that may be going through your head during the worst of times…
- Divorced Moms: If I have to see one more picture of her draped all over my kids, I’m going to scream. What does she think they are, props to show her friends how much she loves them? She’s practically climbing on them like a jungle gym!
- Stepmoms: I can’t believe she’s acting like such a victim, whining about how sad she is that she doesn’t get to spend the holiday with the kids. Grow up. You’ve had them all to yourself for the last 5 years!
- DM: She needs to stop referring to them as “her precious angels.” For starters, they are not hers. And I know for a fact they would cringe at this label. She so doesnt get them!
- SM: She’s referring to her second husband as Dad in this family photo? She’s such a child, doing this just to hurt my husband.
- DM: Oh my god, look at all that make-up she’s wearing in those lovey-dovey pictures of her and my ex. And all that cleavage, what is she? A former stripper?
- SM: Is that a new Prada bag she’s bragging about buying herself? And she has the nerve to ask for more child support!
Lovely, huh? Your behavior may seem completely understandable to you, your friends and your family. Chances are she has a radically different interpretation…
What her behavior seems like to the other side:
- To stepmoms: Everything this woman does is done to hurt my husband. It’s clear that she’s not over him and is still in pain over the divorce. She’s so jealous of me, I know it kills her that he’s happily remarried. She’s just trying to make him as miserable as she is. She still wants him to pay for past mistakes. She’s crazy. Get over it already!
- To divorced moms: She just looks like she’s desperate to replace me – or at the very least, send me a clear message that she knows how to do this mom thing so much better than I do – and they’re not even her kids! Great, I’m glad she and my ex are so happy, but why does she have to gloat about it all over Facebook? Who cares? It’s not a contest!
So what’s the truth behind the difficult behavior that stepmoms and divorced moms experience with each other? What is the other woman afraid of you seeing or knowing about her? You might be surprised…
What might really be going on:
- For divorced moms: It’s so hard to see pictures of the kids with her, I can hardly breathe. There’s excitement in their faces. I can tell they have a bond with her. Why is this so painful? What’s wrong with me? No one ever prepares you for how hard it is to have a perfect stranger insert herself into your kids’ lives. And even though I’m happy I’m not married to my ex, seeing them together still gives me this weird knot in my stomach.
- For stepmoms: I just feel like I have no control over anything anymore. She gets a say in almost every aspect of my life. I understand that she shares children with my husband, but just once I’d like to feel like I’m in control of my life. I’d like to make a decision with him without having to think about how it will affect her or without having to get her approval because it might involve her children. It just feels like she holds so much power and my life is not my own.
Just ten short years ago, most of us didn’t use sites like Facebook to peek into the intimate lives of the other household. We had a wall of privacy between families that was healthier. Now, all our insecurities, fumbles with confusing problems, and attempts to boost ourselves up amongst the safety of friends are right there in plain view. (Or barring a direct “friendship,” available by tunneling through the pages of other friends).
If you’re going to use Facebook (and god help us, most of us will), here’s one of the most effective ways to safeguard your mental health…
What might work better for you and your family:
- To stepmoms: If you can’t be neutral towards her, protect your emotional state by blocking her on Facebook. If you continue to look at her page or have your friends tell you what’s going on with her, then you have no one to blame for your upsets but you. It’s extremely difficult to be in a situation where another woman has so much influence on the happenings in your life, but this is the reality of divorce-connected life.
- To divorced moms: Even if you a have budding new friendship with the stepmom, you’re better off keeping yourself blocked until it’s solid. Just like no good can come from snooping around on an old boyfriend’s page, you’ll inevitably stumble upon posts or pictures on her wall that will hit a raw nerve. Save yourself the trouble and just… don’t. If you rationalize “taking a look around” her page to determine whether she’s acting appropriately with your kids, your mission is still doomed. You’ll have no way to verify or disprove your assumptions.
It’s too easy to read into what you see online and draw the wrong conclusions. Those conclusions can fan the flames of conflict between the houses and create real and lasting negative consequences for the kids.
Do you want to stay in a state of high alert, in constant competition with the other family, however subtly? Or would you rather spend your time on better things? We’re betting it’s the latter.
Be proactive and remember the old adage. Good fences make good neighbors.
It’s hard to do, but steel yourself to resist the temptation of taking a quick peek over the wall — and just don’t go there!