Why is it that every single stepmom could tell you a flaw of her stepchild’s mom? Is it because they’re all inherently flawed? Something about the process of becoming a divorced mom that causes her to have so many shortcomings?
I have a few theories…
Why Bio Moms Have So Many Shortcomings
All flaws may not be the same, but they’re definitely there if you’re looking for them.
It could be punctuality, health consciousness, attentiveness, lack of time spent reading, ignorance about screen time, or any other number of flaws, but trust me, they’re there.
You’re overanalyzing every single thing she does.
The first reason you’re certain the ex-wife has flaws is because you have access to witness so much of her behavior. You can certainly see how she dresses your stepchildren on transition days, if she’s punctual, and evaluate if the kids have been fed.
It could be that you’re unpacking your stepchild’s lunch from the day before when he was at his mom’s home, and you noticed the chips bag and the plastic storage container with remnants of mac and cheese alongside the candy wrappers and other junk food. And of course, you judge her from not caring more about a healthy lunch.
Or maybe you’re checking your stepdaughter’s homework log and noticing that yet again, no extra reading time has been done at the other home. You think to yourself, why doesn’t she care more about this child’s education?
You don’t have the same issues, and you’re helping to raise the same child.
If you know that your little one has no issue eating his veggies when he’s at Dad’s home, then it makes sense you’d judge the other parent for not being able to enforce the same nutrition standards when he’s in her care.
You might be playing the comparison game and saying that if you can do it, she should be able to, too. You don’t have that issue, so she shouldn’t either, right?
There are so many ways to fail.
If you’re looking for the other parent to fail, you’ll find it, I guarantee it.
Opportunities could include: the fast food meal they enjoyed, your stepchild’s tardy at school, your stepchild wearing clothes that don’t fit or don’t match, a junk food snack at school, a below-level book on the reading log instead of a challenging chapter book… the list truly goes on and on.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to judge or criticize the ex-wife, you’ll find plenty.
No one can measure up.
The simple fact is, no one can measure up to the perfect standard you’re holding her to.
Society tells us we need to limit screen time, promote STEM, increase fresh produce intake, eliminate processed foods, encourage independent play and creativity, get involved with our kids and spend time with them before they fly the nest, encourage our kids to be active, keep an eye on them but don’t helicopter parent, empower them, protect them, provide for them but promote humility… Do you see where I’m going with this?
We can’t possibly do everything on that list 100% of the time. And neither can our stepchild’s other parent.
What if there was another way?
What did YOU miss on that list this week?
Did you opt for pizza delivery or a drive thru instead of cooking the perfectly portioned meal one evening?
Did you let your stepdaughter watch one too many episodes of her favorite show?
If you were on the outside looking in with a critical eye, what could you pick apart about your own performance this week? Be honest.
There’s a quote in Dr. Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead that I think can really help us in these co-parenting scenarios when we get upset by the other parent’s shortcomings.
She says, “I know my life is better when I work from the assumption that everyone is doing the best they can.”
Instead of picking apart everything your co-parent is doing wrong, what if instead, you assumed she’s doing the best she can?
I bet you she is. Just like you’re doing the very best you can, I guarantee she’s also doing the best she can.
It absolutely doesn’t look the same as your best. She might be failing in areas where you’re excelling. But she’s doing the best she can, that’s all we can ever ask for or expect.
P.S. Looking for more assistance moving past this mindset? I’m here to help! Sign up for a 1-on-1 stepmom support coaching session, and let’s dive in!