Lessons Learned
Three Suggestions from Veteran Stepmoms​
SmomInTraining's List
1. I can not in good conscience tell a woman who is considering a long term relationship with a man who has no court order in place with the ex and his child to move forward with that relationship. Not that a CO makes everything better, but at least there is some sort of structure. My best advice would be to talk this through with the man, that you want to continue the relationship, but he needs to seek a formal court order prior to your meeting his children, and becoming an involved presence. I know this is not always possible, but I would want any woman considering a relationship where the arrangement is informal to understand there is slim chance the informal arrangment will continue to work out if you become a permanent part of his life, no matter how long they have been using this arrangement, how long it's been "working", and no matter how "settled" or friendly the BM seems.

2. Make one effort to introduce yourself to the BM once you've been established as a long term partner of your man, even if she never makes a move. This is especially important to document, an email is best. Don't attach yourself to the outcome- it could be hostile, it could be neutral, she could ignore you, or it could be great. Make the effort one time, even if she doesn't. Then it is in her court.

3. Elicit your man's help from the beginning as an ally should things get hostile. Throw some what-ifs out there. Get an idea of how willing he will be to protect you/shield you from hostility from BM, her family, their children...and get that information early on.

4. From the very beginning- opt out of a few activities with the skids and their dad. Make sure that it is known the reason is because you respect/value their previous relationship, you also have a previous life with interests and a way of structuring time... not because you don't want to go. The tendency is for smom to go to EVERYTHING in the beginning (especially if the skids are inviting you!), in the bonding process they want, naturally, for the skids to like them and to feel like a part of the family. If the skids know from the very start you won't be at every little thing, you have built in rest time and it won't appear that you are disengaging later on due to something they did. You can ALWAYS increase your involvement later! It is so hard to step back once you've given too much, without hurt feelings.

5. Know from the beginning you might have very strong initial attachments to your skids, and you might not. Either is ok. In some cases, it might develop over time. It may never come. You can be a good smom and not love your stepkids.
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055
609.206.2009
Cathryn@smoms.org