Home » How to Communicate with Bio Mom: Crafting your Stepmom Philosophy

How to Communicate with Bio Mom: Crafting your Stepmom Philosophy

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My best friend is my stepdaughter’s mom.

Yep, you read that right.

What’s the question that follows that confession every single time? “How in the world did you get to that point?!”

My biggest recommendation for helping other stepmoms replicate our relationship is to develop a strong sense of self and what you stand for as a stepmother and mother in general, then taking the initiative to present it to your stepchild’s biological mom (BM).

As with any relationship, you approach with respect, reverence, and caution. Don’t overstep and don’t disrespect. This is a chance to convince Mom you deserve a place in your stepchild’s life.

She will be skeptical of you – wouldn’t you be?! She wants to protect her child, and that’s perfectly understandable. Prove to her that you’re intentional about being the best stepmom and co-parent possible. That’s all she can really ask of the other woman in her daughter’s life.

How to Communicate with Bio Mom

First, I need you to understand where she’s coming from. She was married to the man you’re with now. She birthed and cared for the child you are helping to raise. And she doesn’t know a thing about you.

She doesn’t know if you’re a good person, if you could hurt her children, if you could try to turn them against her, or worse, if you would try to take them away. She’s scared, she’s protective of her babies, and she’s cautious.

If you understand where her animosity stems from, you can reassure her you only want to help her raise the best kids possible. Reassure her you’re on the same team. And reassure her you don’t want to take her babies away, you just want to be a bonus mom.

We’ll detail all of this in your stepmom philosophy.

Crafting your Stepmom Philosophy

The concept of creating a “stepmom philosophy” is something I’m borrowing from my corporate life. Oftentimes when I’m preparing for an interview or potential promotion, I revisit my “leadership philosophy.” It details what I believe, what employees can expect of me, what I expect of them, my hot buttons, and my leadership inspiration.

This translates perfectly into my thoughts on stepparenting! When I realized all of these concepts apply, I crafted my own stepmom philosophy. To help you create your own, we’ll go through it piece by piece.

What I Believe

First things first – “What I Believe.” In this section, write down first how you view the stepmom/mom relationship. Give her credit as Mom – this will earn her trust. You are trying to work together, on the same team, so make that known too! This section is going to include your thoughts, values, goals, and generalized statements about stepparenting from your perspective.

As an example, here are mine:

  • The stepmom role is completely separate from the biological mom role.
  • Your daughter should never call me “Mom.”
  • We are on the same team, working toward the same goal.
  • We can learn from each other.
  • Collaboration is better than independent thought.
  • A divorced home doesn’t have to be a “broken” home.
  • Your daughter’s quality of life is enhanced by mom and stepmom working together.

What I Expect of You

Here we’re going to lay it all out there. What do you expect from BM? I assume respect is something we’re all going to expect. We don’t want her badmouthing us to our children, CPS, neighbors, or in-laws. Perhaps timeliness or responsibility make your list. Think through anything that might bother you currently – what could be better? Perhaps you want to reference this letter to BM for inspiration. Finally, think through everything she’s already doing right that you consider expectations in the relationship (e.g., greeting you at the door).

Here’s my list:

  • Communication
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Willingness to compromise
  • Refrain from negative remarks about my husband or me to or in front of your daughter
  • Actively seek to understand my perspective

What You Can Expect of Me

Next, I want you to list as many things as you possibly can that you can promise to BM. The key here is to ensure you can actually deliver on all of your promises. You’d always rather underpromise and overdeliver, than overpromise and underdeliver. Double-check that your list includes respect, communication, and protecting her child(ren). Those should be standard responses for each of us! Provide BM with as much reassurance as you can in this section. You are essentially selling yourself as a responsible, loving, capable stepmom right now. Put a lot of time and effort into this section, and come back to it again if you need to.

Here’s what K’s Mom can expect of me:

  • Communication – I will respond to all messages or phone calls as quickly as I can.
  • Respect – I respect your role and will never allow your daughter to call me “mom” or think she has to choose between us.
  • Flexibility – I will be flexible with custody arrangements and schedules.
  • I will actively seek to understand your perspective.
  • I will treat your daughter with respect and dignity.
  • I will send you photos and share stories from when she is in our care.
  • I will never speak poorly about you or your decisions to or in front of your daughter.
  • I will never jeopardize your relationship with your daughter or try to replace you.
  • I will always consult you before making big decisions for or with your daughter (haircuts, piercings) and will always relay any conversations we have about big topics like puberty, bullying, or abuse of any sort.

My Hot Buttons

Here’s where I want you to respectfully air your grievances. In this section, we’re listing all of the actions (or nonactions!) that BM could perform that will flip your switch from sweet to crazy. There’s no reason to be ashamed; we all have them! I have yet to meet a person that doesn’t have a pet peeve (or 2). I will caution you against making this list too long. This is not a chance to complain and list all of BM’s flaws. This is an opportunity to let her know your top few annoyances. Got it? 🙂

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Dishonesty – Dishonesty is never acceptable.
  • Responsiveness – My #1 pet peeve is being ignored.
  • Tardiness – Tardiness should be the exception, never the rule.
  • Disrespect – I’m a parent too, so don’t refer to me as a babysitter. Tardiness also feeds into this one.

My Stepparenting Inspiration

In this section, I chose to include a few of my favorite co-parenting and stepparenting sound bites. Feel free to choose whichever speak to you. This may take quiet a bit of research to get right, so allow yourself the time and energy to research and find the right sayings to reflect your view of the stepmom role.

These were the quotes that spoke to me:

  • The well-being and welfare of children should always be our focus. – Todd Tiahrt
  • You can make excuses or you can make progress.
  • Your ex is not your child’s ex.
  • Love your child more than you hate your ex.
  • It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. – Frederick Douglass

My Parenting Inspiration

I think this section is even more important for stepmoms who don’t have biological children. It requires being intentional about your parenting style even though you haven’t had children of your own. It proves to BM that you’re taking this role very seriously and truly want to do your best when raising her children.

Further, this can spark some really great conversation if she sees something she agrees (or disagrees) within your parenting inspiration. Again, take the time to ensure this list accurately reflects your parenting persona. You want to put your best foot forward, and it will be apparent if you threw a list together of cliché parenting quotes.

My list covers a variety of parenting issues but they’re all important to me as a mom:

  • Children learn more from what you are than by what you teach – WEB DuBois
  • The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.
  • It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings – Ann Landers
  • Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult. – Nadia Boulanger
  • If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much. – Jackie Kennedy
  • Success for me is to raise happy, healthy human beings. – Kelly LeBrock

Communicating your Stepmom Philosophy

Now that you’ve spent all of that time putting it together, it’s time to share! It won’t do you much good to have completed it but never communicate it. Having cemented your parenting persona and your stepparenting philosophy will help guide you as you move forward as a stepmom, but having established your hot buttons isn’t doing anyone any good if they don’t know about them!

First, I want you to present your stepmom philosophy to your husband. Explain to him the context and your intentions for presenting this document to BM, and allow him to provide feedback. He knows her better than you do, and he can tell you if anything you’ve included would actually be a hot button for her (which is counteractive to our mission!). We want her to be receptive and welcome a relationship with us after this philosophy has been shared – not to retreat further!

Once you’ve gotten feedback from your husband and made the appropriate changes, it’s time to reach out to BM and ask her out. Perhaps you meet over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Hubby can probably help you figure out a safe space that you’ll both enjoy if you don’t have one in mind.

Explain to her that you’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to stepparent, and you’d really like to discuss your thoughts on it with her and better understand her perspective. You can ask her if she’d like a copy of the philosophy beforehand to review prior to the meeting, or you can go through it together line-by-line when you meet. I’d plan 1-2 hours to meet – this could take a while to talk through!

Remember to be courteous, respectful, and open to feedback. Mom’s going to have her own perspective and her own expectations. Allow her to voice those!

The End Goal

At the end of the conversation, you should both walk away with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence in the relationship. I’m not saying you should be best friends after one conversation, but you should have more respect for one another and better understand each other’s perspectives. You’ll know what bothers each other, what the other values most, and more importantly, you’ll both agree you’re on the same team working toward the same goal (raising happy, healthy children).

The ultimate goal for this conversation is to open the lines of communication as you move forward in your co-parenting relationship. Exchange numbers if you haven’t already, and establish rules/boundaries (e.g., I prefer texting, and not after 9:00).

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I am so excited to hear how developing your stepmom philosophy shapes the way you parent and transforms your relationship and how you communicate with Bio Mom.

Leave a comment below or shoot me an email; I want to hear all about it!

P.S. Remember to tell her that as a stepmom, you are a real person with real feelings.

10 thoughts on “How to Communicate with Bio Mom: Crafting your Stepmom Philosophy”

  1. I really wished me or BM would have stubbled upon this 4yrs ago. I did get to tell her where I stood and that I would never try and take mom role…. This was done during our first screaming match, the first of many. I am happy to say BM and I get along great now.

  2. I’m both nervous and excited to give this a shot. I’m very new to this whole stepmom role and interactions with bio mom thus far have been very limited but those we have had were less than pleasant. I really want a positive relationship with her, we don’t have to be friends but I want to make sure we do this right for the sake of the child.

    I am curious, how do you suggest to format the document… I want it to look nice but also appropriate for the situation at hand.


  3. This article is such a great approach to relationship building – not just stepmom to bio mom but in general. I do believe that there is more complexity to these relationships than is reflected in the article, however. Full disclosure, I have only observed my friends dealing with these relationships – I have not had the experience personally. The complexities all seem to boil down to how happy and content the bio mom is with herself, her mothering abilities, and her relationships with both her child and her ex. Nothing you can do as a stepmom will fulfill the bio mom when she has her own inner issues. She could be (for example) unhappy with her own life and therefore jealous of the happiness in the step home or maybe she’s happily remarried but insecure about her mothering abilities – and therefore resentful or jealous or envious when stepmom appears to have a natural rhythm to parenting. These issues with bio mom are hard to overcome because they have nothing to do with stepmom at all. Anyway, I do think the behaviors in this article could only help the cause — I just know there are some relationships that one side just can’t “fix”.

    • Omg you couldve had not put it better. I have great desire to coparent for the best interest of my (step) daughter. But the biomom definitely has issues and makes it hard to approach. When the person is unhappy with their own life they arent ready to receive any kinda of advices from the person that spends most time with her child. So they need to give advice for these kinda of situations becuase i try to think of many ways to approach her but i know it would be taken in a bad way. So what you got group of stepmommies ??

  4. This is lovely. I am going to adapt it for my personal focus of foster parenting! Some of these things are not really possible but the philosophy and focus on the child’s welfare definitely are!

  5. I would love to do this but the Biomom in my situation is high-conflict. She is a compulsive liar and actually tried to physically attack me once. The attack was unprovoked I simply asked her to not walk directly behind me.. She often tells my stepson terrible things about me and my fiance–to the point where I’ve had to explain to my Stepson that he is not at fault and he shouldn’t worry about the adults problems. We never speak Ill of her in front of her son. However, she calls us names and encourages lil man to do the same–so far he hasn’t once I explained to him that those names were mean and hurtful. He’s only 5 he doesn’t know

    I’ve had this woman call me a childless bitch once she found out about my ectopic pregnancy. I just want the best for my stepson and my future husband. We are trying to take the high-road for lil man’s sake but it’s very hard.

    I don’t know how I should deal with a HCBM who lies, drinks, refuses to get stepson to school on Time if at all (as of today he missed 50 days of kindergarten) and has at times refused to allow visitation. At this point we are going thru the courts but this adversarial relationship is not in my stepson’s best interest.
    I’m crying…what else should we do?!

    • It sounds like a friendship or even cordial relationship just isn’t in the cards for you right now. I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with all of this. Continue to take the high road and focus on what you can control. You can’t control how she responds to the situation – just how you respond, and you’re doing a fantastic job, mama.

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