There are few generalizations that I actually agree with, especially when it comes to shared parenting and stepfamilies, but there are a few I will absolutely defend to my grave.
1. No 2 blended families are alike.
2. There is a right way: doing what’s best for the children.
3. Mom/Stepdad and Dad/Stepmom can all play on the same team. They don’t have to hate each other.
My stepdaughter’s mom and I started this co-parenting resource together; we worked as one team to debunk the myth that mom and stepmom must hate each other. We developed a genuine friendship and have worked together to raise an incredible little girl.
Meet Co-Parenting Champions: Jamie and Elizabeth
I am so excited to introduce you to mom and stepmom best friends, Jamie and Elizabeth! I had the honor of sharing some of your biggest questions with them and learning from their answers. And today, I’m giving you all the details!
Were you friends first or co-parents first?
Stepmom: Co parents. I knew of her but not very much.
Mom: We were co-parents first then friends, but we were Facebook friends before co-parenting. We knew of each other; we went to the same school.
How long had Mom and Dad been separated before Stepmom and Dad met/started dating?
Stepmom: I think maybe a couple or few months? I’m not 100% sure, lol.
Mom: I believe it was a few months.
What is your custody arrangement and how far apart do you live?
Stepmom: We spend time with my stepson about every other weekend for the most part. We run it by the other to see what works best for everyone. We live about four hours apart, and sometimes we travel to meet halfway. Sometimes we travel to spend time up there with everyone or vice versa.
Mom: In the beginning we lived in the same state and made up our own arrangements, mostly 50/50. When moving into another state happened, son is with me and we are 3 hours and 45 minutes away and he visits dad/stepmom every other weekend and holidays/school breaks. Sometimes we meet halfway, and sometimes we visit each other’s homes for a weekend and all stay together.
How did you become friends? Who made the “first move” to develop a relationship?
Stepmom: Me I think. I would message her for help/advice on parenting my step son. I had 0 experience with keeping children before lol. She helped a ton.
Mom: I insisted we have a joint birthday party for our son in order for him to fully enjoy his birthday and not feel any confusion just happy feelings. That broke the ice.
Was it rocky in the beginning?
Stepmom: No. She was very kind to us. I wasn’t sure how to take it because it was a new atmosphere for me. But she helped me feel more comfortable.
Mom: No, maybe for our child adjusting to new changes but that was always the first priority, making him feel comforted during confusing times, so getting along from the beginning was easy.
What obstacles have you faced throughout your relationship?
Mom: The only obstacle would be the distance from being in another state. It doesn’t hinder the relationships, just sucks.
How does your friendship affect your relationship with Dad (Mom’s as a co-parent and Stepmom’s as his wife)?
Stepmom: It doesn’t bother my husband! He knows she’s been a rock for me in many changes of life and he understands how special she is to me.
Mom: Doesn’t at all. Not all situations and people are the same, BUT when you have a group of adults that are well rounded, avoided drama in life, responsible, possess a common sense for good vs bad, and are wholesome, everything goes smoothly and everyone gets along.
How do you deal with sharing a past (Mom) and current (Stepmom) romantic partner?
Stepmom: I don’t really think too deep into that, honestly. Past is the past and I’m certainly here for a reason. I’ve been blessed with my additional family I have.
Mom: No jealousy, the past is the past. I enjoy experiencing the present.
Is there any jealousy?
Stepmom: In the beginning, YES! So much yes. I’ve always been one to battle with myself on appearance (my own worst critic as they say) and when I found out who she was I was like… OHHHHKAYYY… this girl is drop dead gorgeous. I used to wonder why my husband liked me because me and her are complete opposites. Dark hair and tanned skin to pasty white and red hair covered in freckles. But she’s actually been one to teach me how to love myself for how I am, and had pointed out how I see myself is not how I’m viewed by others. That I’m too hard on myself.
Mom: Shes got amazing hair, I’m jealous of that haha.
Do you believe you each truly want what’s best for each other?
Stepmom: Absolutely. I have to be honest and hope this doesn’t rub someone the wrong way, but it’s been so nice to have her as my prayer friend too. Praying for each other for our dreams to happen while also praising the Lord for each others victories has been amazing!
Mom: Absolutely. Like I said before, not everyone is the same and all situations are different, but God has blessed us all. He put together a beautiful puzzle and then framed it. Being a loving person isn’t hard and loving a loving person is even easier.
Related Reading: The Metaphor that Changed My Entire Perspective on the Stepmom Role
If/when you feel hurt by the other what did you do in order to make amends?
Stepmom: That’s not something that’s happened that I can think of. I remember one time I thought she was upset with me so I had to ask. She was actually just busy and was being short and apologized we both talk a lot so it’s not normal for one of us to be short with the other lol
Mom: I’ve never felt hurt by her.
How did you learn to trust each other? Even with a great co-parenting relationship, how do you TRUST that the other parent isn’t trying to “keep their enemy closer”?
Stepmom: I saw how respectful she was to my husband, and how kind she treated me. So it didn’t take much! I trust her 100%. She’s heard me cry and she’s prayed with me. She’s taught me how to be a better person, Christian and how to keep my spirit high. I couldn’t imagine her ever doing that.
Mom: I’m a very intuitive person and I can read people easily. I’ve trusted her from the very beginning. Trust is like Faith, she and I both possess Faith.
What boundaries have you found beneficial in your relationship?
Mom: I’m not sure I understand the question, if we have boundaries we are probably unaware of them haha, she’s my best friend, and when my son is in her care, she is his mother.
What advice do you have for other moms and stepmoms who are in shared parenting relationships to help them achieve peace like you’ve found?
Stepmom: Honestly, it’s what you make of it. Always be kind and loving and never stop. Uplift and encourage the other to do well.
Mom: Be a peaceful person, be a good person, be a loving person. If you are dealing with a difficult person whether it’s your ex, his spouse, or your spouse and they are having a hard time finding that peace that you crave, or if it’s you that’s having a hard time finding the peace, some things take work. Work on yourself and be an example; it will pay off. Peace and love is contagious, be patient.
Because you’re best friends, do you two do all of the communicating about the kids and logistics, scheduling, etc. or do Mom and Dad still handle those things directly?
Stepmom: Sometimes he talks to her sometimes I do lol. Then we just relay scheduling or what not to the other.
Mom: We talk back and forth about plans then I call Dad so that everyone is on the same page, and he does the same. We all communicate.
What is the relationship like between Mom and Dad? Are y’all friends as well?
Stepmom: Yes! They are as well!
Is Mom remarried or dating someone as well? If so, would it have been possible for you two to have become best friends before Mom had resettled?
Stepmom: Remarried. I’m sure!
Mom: I am remarried, and yes I believe so.
What are some of the funny reactions you’ve gotten from people when you tell them you’re best friends?
Stepmom: Oh man.. I’ve had people tell me I’m crazy, stupid, that I’m getting into something I don’t want to and more. I’ve had the classic shocked face and then not knowing how to respond either
Mom: At first it was more negativity: “I could never,” “That is crazy,” “That is weird,” and “Be careful.” But now I’ve noticed more praise: “What a blessing,” “Great example,” and “You two are amazing.” I truly believe peace and love IS contagious.
Isn’t that such a great note to end on? Peace and love is contagious.
Are you representing those two qualities in your co-parenting actions? Are you at peace with your role or still seeking it? How can I help you achieve co-parenting champion status? I’m here to help, always.
PS: Are you interested in being featured as a Co-Parenting Champion? I’d love to hear from you! Fill out your info here and I’ll get in touch!
PPS: Want more tips on how to see the ex without breaking a sweat?