As stepmoms, we spend so much time supporting one another in an “us against the world” mentality, which is awesome and important and so valid. But with that mentality, we often don’t want to see that we ourselves might have developed some stepmom habits that don’t help the equation.
It’s easy to forget that when our stepfamily lives aren’t totally harmonious, the problem can also be us. I’ll never be a perfect stepmom, and I’m guilty of all of these at one point or another. Habits are hard to break, but the first step is recognizing them. If we don’t face our own flaws, how do we have the right to point out the ones in others? Let’s start by identifying a few harmful stepmom habits we need to break.
Harmful Habits Stepmoms Need to Break
5 Harmful Stepmom Habits We Need to Break
1. You’re always ready for war
If you’re coparenting in a high-conflict dynamic, it’s easy to understand why your guard would always be up. The problem is when you put your boxing gloves on before it’s clear there’s even going to be a fight. If you show up to every event with a chip on your shoulder, face every minor request with frustration, or get defensive every time you’re asked a question, that war will almost always wage.
Not every ex has an agenda, and even those who do don’t have them all the time. And if you’re in a situation where you really have a high-conflict coparent, throwing gasoline on a fire is almost never the right thing to do. You can build boundaries without getting so many bruises and battle scars along the way.
2. You don’t trust your partner
Do you check your partner’s texts and rationalize that it’s because you’re making sure they are being treated with respect by the ex? Do you worry like crazy every time your spouse goes to an exchange or an event without you in attendance? It’s not worth it. If your partner’s ex isn’t over them and makes that known, what good does it do to see that? Is there a cause for concern? Take that time and energy and put it into your relationship.
If you don’t trust your partner, the problem is bigger than being in a blended family, and you should take time to examine that first. Take a step back and try to think about whether you would trust your significant other if they weren’t in a position to have to be permanently connected to an ex. Your answer will guide your next move.
If you don’t trust your partner, the problem is bigger than being in a blended family, and you should take time to examine that first.
3. You make your partner choose
Your home should not be a rotating podium where you and your stepkids are constantly battling it out to be number one in your partner’s heart. You’re setting yourself up to fail by find flaws, isolating yourself, or just generally putting your partner in the position to pick between you and the kids.
Sometimes you might even be thinking you’re taking a stand against the ex by encouraging your partner not to chip in for something or help out on an occasion where the attention is taken off of you. But in reality, your partner isn’t choosing their ex, he or she is choosing their kid, plain and simple. This one can be an especially difficult habit to break when it feels like there’s a fine line between pandering to the ex and just being a good parent. With work and self reflection, you can learn the difference.
4. You constantly micro-coparent
Are you always dictating your partner’s responses to their ex because you think you know the best and most effective way to respond? Are you tagging along to every exchange just because? Do you answer questions the ex or your stepkids as your partner just because you know the answer too? This is all part of micro (or helicopter) coparenting.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Constantly stepping up as a primary parent can feel instinctive, especially if you’re a childless stepmom, but sometimes it can cause unnecessary conflict. Plus, your partner deserves the opportunity to be the primary parent that they are.
5. You think you’re a superior mother
Sure, you might likely be the glue that holds your blended family together. But that does not inherently mean you’re a better mother than your stepkids’ mom. You’re two different people, likely doing your best to raise an awesome human being. Maybe you’re more organized. Maybe you’re more punctual, or maybe you’re just better at french braiding or teaching your little ones how to tie their shoes.
You might be better at some things. Hell, you might be better at a ton of things, but that doesn’t mean you are a better mother. Regardless of your abilities as a parent, your ego is not going to do you any favors when it comes to blending your family. Parenting is never a competition, because when that happens, the only ones who lose are the kids.
How many of these harmful stepmom habits do you have? Are you willing to put in the work to break them?
For more help with stepmom habits – or anything else – download our 10 Healthy Habits of Healthy Stepfamilies below!