Yes, divorce sucks. But the outcome doesn’t have to suck.
Divorce can be a complex and emotional process that often brings out our worst selves, no matter the situation. But one of the most challenging aspects is being around your ex-partner, especially when they have moved on with someone new. And the most agonizing part? Seeing that new partner with your children.
Let me emphasize that this pain cuts even deeper than just knowing your ex is with someone else. Oh no, it goes beyond that. Some people may hold onto their exes, but that jealousy eventually disappears. It’s about something much more profound and has nothing to do with the new partner herself. She’s just the trigger for these deep-rooted maternal instincts that make us fiercely protective.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw my ex’s new partner caring for my kids. We were all at our oldest son’s high school football game, and since it was their week with their dad, they were there with him. We sat apart in the stands, and I watched as she lovingly held my little boy’s hand, guiding him down the bleachers. At that moment, a wave of territorial feelings rushed over me. Who was she to take them to the concession stand? My insecurities and fears started to consume me. It wasn’t about the popcorn or her, but rather the anger that my time with them was being taken away and shared with someone new. I worried that my kids might start liking her or, even worse, loving her.
It took me a little time to accept that another woman would be in my children’s lives, taking on the role of a mother. I consciously decided not to be the bitter ex-wife who badmouths the new partner or feels jealous. Instead, I promised myself to be emotionally mature and show the utmost respect towards any woman my ex chooses to have around my kids. I understood that my children wouldn’t respect her if I didn’t, and if I deserved respect, so did she.
I prioritize nurturing my relationship with my children above worrying about their time with their dad and stepmom. I’ve come to terms with the fact that no matter how great their stepmom is, she can never replace me. It’s a privilege to have both me and their stepmom as role models for my daughter, teaching her how to become a confident and responsible woman.
Trying to develop a relationship with a new person who will be a part of your children’s lives is not an easy path, but it is essential for the sake of our kids. As a mother, you want what is best for your little ones, including creating a stable, loving environment for them, even if it means sharing your children with someone you don’t know.
It sucks. I get it. When we have children, we don’t anticipate another woman raising them alongside the man we made them with. So trust me when I say that I understand the heart-wrenching pain that comes with even thinking about such a situation during your relationship or divorce. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common in today’s world. In fact, 40% of families today are blended in some way. And many people struggle to co-parent effectively, causing unnecessary drama and stress for adults and, most importantly, the children.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. And my family is living proof of that. I am not saying it was easy at first, but now it is easier than ever before. My ex and I get along better than we did when we were married, which took serious and intentional effort and much practice.
Co-Parenting Superpowers: Open Communication, Collaboration, and Teamwork.
When co-parenting with my ex-husband and his amazing wife, we have mastered the art of transparency and honest communication. We believe in keeping everyone in the loop, whether it’s through group texts, speakerphone calls, or family meetings.
As parents, navigating this journey can be challenging, but here’s the secret sauce: we communicate effectively and openly. There are no secrets between us, and we consciously collaborate on anything related to our children. From handling school emails to discussing their needs, we do it together as a superhero team.
One of the most rewarding aspects has been the relationship between my daughter and her stepmom. My daughter has been passionate about horses since she was a toddler and riding since she was 5, and her stepmom has become her riding instructor. I was thrilled to have someone else take on that responsibility with me who shares my daughter’s passion, has the knowledge to back it up, and owns an actual horse!
I am always included in their horse-related events, which has been amazing to watch them bond over their shared interest. It takes a village to raise a child, and I am lucky to have someone who cares about my daughter like her own.
So today, I am writing an open letter to my kids’ stepmom to express how grateful I am for her. I have a unique and admirable bond with my kids’ stepmother. Our relationship is rooted in respect and pride; we know it’s not simple for either of us.
I hope this letter finds you well. Trust me when I say that I understand how hard it must be to try and develop a relationship with someone else’s children and interact with the ex-wife of the man you love. It takes time, effort, and patience to build that trust and connection with little ones you have not watched grow up from the beginning. But I want to thank you for embracing your role in my kids’ lives and embracing this co-parenting dynamic with me.
We may not share a bond in the traditional sense of “family,” but we are unquestionably a team. We may have different parenting styles and different ideas about discipline, but at the end of the day, we all want what is best for these little munchkins, big and small. We share custody, schedules, and responsibilities, meaning we need to work together to make this situation the best it can be.
I appreciate you taking the time to know my children’s likes, dislikes, and passions. Thank you for attending their games, recitals, and memorable moments and for saving me a seat when you arrive before me. Thank you for taking the baton with riding lessons and sharing your horses with my daughter, who loves them like you do. Thank you for always including me in that.
Thank you for showing up alongside us to every teacher conference and back-to-school night and helping with the mass amounts of school supplies we’ve needed to gather. Thank you for taking them to the doctor and nursing them when they were ill during your scheduled time. Thank you for driving them all over the county and swapping days with me when I need you to. Thank you for investing your energy in ensuring they become good human beings, even when it’s hard.
I know it’s not easy, and I want you to know that I see how much you love them. It’s not always easy for me to think about you brushing and braiding my little girl’s hair or comforting my little boy when he is scared. And at the same time, I am happy they have someone nurturing them because I understand how vital that motherly love is, even if it’s not always me, and I understand not all step-moms do that. I also firmly believe it takes a village; the more people who love them, the better.
Even when you don’t have to, you take care of them, teach them new things, and give them a new perspective on life. So even though, given the situation, we may never be friends, I want you to know that I respect you and the effort you put into making our family work like a well-oiled machine.
We have made quite the team thus far, and for that, I am proud.
So to my kids’ stepmom, I want to say thank you. Thank you for joining this team, loving my kids as your own, and taking on a job that is not easy. We are co-parenting rockstars, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Why this matters.
I wrote this blog post today to acknowledge the hard work and effort it takes to be part of a blended family. It’s incredibly easy to let jealousy, resentment, and anger take over. But by doing so, we are only hurting these little humans who rely on us to provide them with a stable and nurturing environment. It’s not their fault we are in this situation, and they should not suffer because of our unskilled or immature ways.
Through my experiences, I’ve discovered that embracing respect is much easier than holding onto bitterness and resentment towards my ex or his new partner. It’s not worth the discomfort of tense situations when we attend essential events.
In the end, it’s not about me or them. It’s about our children and their happiness. Our kids don’t need us to be a couple to thrive and be happy. They need both parents to be happy and involved in their lives, free from drama and disrespect. I see the joy on my children’s faces when they see our blended family sitting together at their events. It warms my heart when my daughter feels comfortable asking me and her stepmother for help shopping for the other. We happily support each other in making our kids’ lives better. That’s what makes it all worth it for me.
Co-parenting is undoubtedly one of the most challenging tasks a person can undertake. It requires patience, communication, trust, and a willingness to compromise. But even with these components in place, it’s still not always easy. It’s okay to admit co-parenting isn’t a breeze and may need help or support.
Sometimes, all it takes is a listening ear or a fresh perspective to help overcome the hurdles of co-parenting. By asking for help when needed, you’re not admitting defeat or weakness; you’re simply acknowledging that you’re human and need some assistance. Together, we can break down the stigma around asking for support and make co-parenting easier for everyone.
I am not saying it was easy at first, especially the first year after the divorce. But I promise you this, with intention and the right support system, it can become a lot easier and more successful to co-parent with your ex and his new wife without hostility or pettiness.
As someone who has experienced firsthand the challenges of blended families, I cannot stress enough how vital it is to prioritize the needs of the children involved. It’s not always easy to put aside personal conflicts and differences, but doing so can have a hugely positive impact on the family dynamic.
Everyone benefits when both parents and step-parents come together to create a stable and loving environment for the children. The children feel more secure and confident, and the adults feel proud and fulfilled knowing they contribute to their well-being.
As a life coach, I want to remind you that putting your children’s mental state and happiness first is always the best choice. So, the next time tensions run high, take a step back and remember that putting the needs of the children first is always the best course of action and also brings inner peace. It takes a strong person to accomplish such a task, and gives our children some amazing adults to look up to, respect, and learn from.
Let’s work together to make sure their needs are prioritized.
I am Jen,
As a dedicated life coach specializing in co-parenting, divorce, and single motherhood, I bring a unique blend of professional expertise and personal experience to my coaching practice. I am deeply committed to helping women not only survive divorce but also thrive as they transition into their roles as single mothers. I provide tailored coaching to assist my clients in developing effective co-parenting strategies, fostering healthy communication, and creating nurturing environments for their children.
I am also the author of the best-selling book “I am Amazing: From Invisible to Invincible”. My self-help memoir offers hope and inspiration for anyone who has felt overwhelmed by life and their struggles with mental health. With raw honesty and vulnerability, I provide an intimate look at my journey from victim to victorious.