Mommy Wars: Mom v. StepMom

Dear Robin:

My marriage ended when my husband had an affair with a woman at work.  At the time of our divorce, our children were 1 and 5.  I would have given him another chance because I really loved him and I wanted our family to remain intact, but this was not the first affair (or even the third) and I knew it wouldn’t be the last.  I finally had to accept that he couldn’t remain faithful to me, and when I refused to take him back he ended up with “the other woman.”  She has one child, a 10 year old son, but he lives full-time with his dad in another state.

The divorce was really hard, but I am finally in a good place in my life.  I enjoy my work and my friends and I have a boyfriend I love who treats me great and is super loyal.  I wish I had my kids more but I agreed to an even custody split because my kids love their dad and I didn’t want to screw up that up.

My problem is that my husband’s new wife is obnoxious when it comes to my kids.  For example, even though I didn’t have my kids for Easter this year under the custody agreement, my very Catholic parents planned a rare trip here to visit, and I wanted the kids to spend the holiday with us.  My ex-husband had no problem with that, until he told his wife.  Suddenly, he called me back and said he couldn’t agree to it because she was freaking out and claiming she had a big Easter event planned.  What’s funny about that is 1) I tried to change the schedule 6 weeks before Easter, and 2) she is Jewish.

She is constantly posting pictures of my kids on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and calling them “my kidlets.”  She never posts pictures of her own son, just my kids.  I really lost it last month when my ex and I were planning a joint birthday party for our son, and once she got wind of it she shut it down, so now he will have two parties: one at their house and one at mine.

My kids are really confused as to why we can’t get along, especially since my sister is also divorced and she and her ex-husband have a great relationship and do things together all the time, and they are both remarried!

Robin, what can I do to change this woman and get her to BACK OFF when it comes to my kids?

The Real Mom

Dear Real Mom:

Honestly, I could write about this issue for days.  Between my experience having step-parents, my experience as a step-parent, and the fact that my son has step-parents, I’ve got tons of material.  


However, as you know if you read Friday Feedback last week, I am making an effort to be more succinct in my writing.  This subject will truly pose a challenge to that new directive.  Let’s give it a shot and I’ll try not to make it all about meeeeeeeeeee!

Your question is easily answered: you can’t change this woman (let’s call her Margaret).  She’s a nutter with no sense of boundaries who clearly enjoys pissing you off.  While you can’t change her, maybe your ex-husband can help.  By the way, he sounds like a real prize; congratulations on dumping a douchebag and finding someone worthy of you.  


From our emails last week, I know that your ex douchebag very much wants to improve your relationship but his current wife is threatened by you so she keeps getting in the way of that.

Here’s the good news: they won’t be married long so you shouldn’t have to deal with this forever.  While he is clearly a Narcissistic Pussy Hound with the loyalty of a house cat (animal references galore!), you insist he loves his kids and wants what is best for them.  Maybe he should tell that to his dick which keeps falling out of his pants and into random vaginas, as this tends to create what we call family problems that affect his children.  



“Oh, shit.”

You told me he is a great dad and has privately and repeatedly expressed to you his frustration about Margaret’s behavior, but he is worried about rocking the boat because he doesn’t want his kids to go through another divorce and frankly she’s got some serious cash and he likes that.


I’m going to bet my entire savings account, now up to $356 (thanks, state of Oregon Employment Department!), that the Narcissistic Pussy Hound House Cat (“NPHHC” because my carpal tunnel is acting up) soon realizes that he is doing more damage to his children by staying in this second marriage than he would if it ended.  Until the impending implosion, however, you need the NPHHC’s cooperation and support to improve the family paradigm under which these poor children are laboring.

Take him to coffee (or better yet a drink – that will really piss her off) and ask for his participation including his wife in a family conference with a  professional therapist who specializes in blended families.  I know you live in Portland so if you’d like some referrals, email me separately and I’ll send you some names.  Of course, several things could result from this conversation:

1. He agrees but she won’t allow it, in which case you know she has his balls in a fanny pack that she hides in her scrapbooking/crafts/wrapping room;


2. He agrees and the therapist gives you some great advice which you all follow to the letter and live happily ever after (not likely) until he dumps that bitch; or

3. You and he meet with the therapist together, she’s really hot, and he engages his NPHHC chip, seducing her on the spot.  Since he is a NPHHC and has no manners, their coitus begins before you manage to make it out of the office.  

Luckily for you, you have some time to take a video on your iPhone and upload it to YouTube and Facebook.  The rest, as they say, is history, and Margaret is no longer a pain in your ass.


All joking aside, being a step-parent involves walking an incredibly difficult line between being involved and affectionate without trying to replace or usurp a parent who is still very much a positive part of the children’s lives.  Some people are really good at this, but it’s impossible if you don’t have a positive post-divorce dynamic.  You most certainly do not.  

Unlike my margaritas, I prefer my family blended, not on the rocks. My ex-husband (the Canary in a Coal Mine, as my current husband calls him) and I have made a very concerted effort to give our son the most positive family experience we can, despite the fact we don’t live together.  It’s not always easy but it is without a doubt worth it.

GAH!  I made it all about me again!  Sorry.  My bad.


Some peo
ple like Margaret derive a sick satisfacti
on from poking the former wife.  The most abhorrent type of ex-wife-poking involves using the children for the poking device.  Why do they do that?  Can’t they look around for a stick or something?  I think to a large degree, jealousy and insecurity play a major role in this type of behavior.  Margaret obviously has some very significant insecurities.  Let’s list them, because lists are fun!

1. She must know your ex tried to save your marriage but only ended up with her because you kicked his NPHHC ass to the curb, making her Second Best Wife;

2. Unless she has the intelligence of belly-button lint ball, she knows instinctively that he will not remain faithful to her.  After all, every time a mistress marries her lover she creates a job opening.


3. She does not have custody of her son, which must be very difficult for her.  I am all for the “family law” courts exercising equal justice when it comes to awarding custody, but the sad fact remains that all things being equal, mom gets the kids.  You told me she lost her custody battle with her ex when the child was 2 and the judge allowed her ex to move out of state with her son.  That right there explains why she is trying to stage a hostile takeover of your babies.  Bitch must be stopped.

4. Since most women are inherently shallow and obsessed with looks, it’s important to note that you are WAY prettier.  Chicks hate that shit.


Thank you for the link to her Facebook and Twitter pages, by the way.  I see an average of five or six public postings of “I’m happy!  I’m in love!  I love my kidlets!  Life is GREAT!!!” bullshit on her social media sites.  As Shakespeare wrote: “the lady doth protest too much, methinks.”  

Put another way, despite my promises to be succinct, when people crow incessantly about how happy they are and how wonderful their life is, they are usually engaged in a major snowing operation to convince the world that their life isn’t really a pile of runny dog droppings.


Case in point: I know a man who cheats on a regular basis and is in a very unhappy relationship. It’s not just gossip that he cheats, it’s well established and I can’t go into how I know that (except to note I am no way involved here so DON’T JUDGE ME!).  This guy posts on Facebook all the time about his beautiful wife and how much he loves her.  It’s ridiculous.  Also, her family is very rich.  **ahem**

My point is this: truly happy people don’t find it necessary to broadcast their happiness incessantly.  Of course there is nothing wrong with posting happy musings and fun events – that’s normal.  What isn’t normal is Margaret’s attempt to claim your children as her own and to rub your face in her relationship with her ex-husband.  Ugh, I hate her and I don’t usually hate anyone before 1:00 pm.  I’m a morning person!


My goddess, it’s getting late and I have already written too much.  Time for Advice By Numbers, the tried and true AskDesCamp method by which you improve your life and I get on with my day:

1. Write her a polite letter and ask her to engage in a conversation with you, your ex and a therapist so you can come to an understanding about how to change the negative family dynamics.  

2. If she agrees, work with her and your ex to create the best possible environment for your kids.  You wrote me because her idiotic behavior is on your last nerve, but trust me when I say you have NO IDEA what an enormous impact this is having on your kids and how secure they feel in the world, to say nothing of how it will shape their relationships in the future.

3. If she refuses to engage in a process to improve the situation, there is little you can do but sit back and wait for their marriage to end, which seems likely.  In addition, even if she will not participate in counseling, do your best to convince the NPHHC to join you, for two reasons:

(a) you may be able to work out some solutions with the therapist and your ex whether or not Margaret joins in; and

(b) see previous scenario re: the NPHHC nailing the pretty counselor.  Come to think of it, this may be your best bet.  I know a woman who does this type of work, is sickeningly hot and has very flexible ethics.  I’ll send you her number.

4. No matter what happens with Margaret, I suggest you stop looking at her social media.  It’s not healthy for you and you are playing right into her hand in this sick little game.

5. Consider consulting with a lawyer to see if you can prevent Margaret from posting photos of your children.  This should be a last-case-scenario approach because it means you aren’t following advice point #4.  My advice must be followed very closely or it won’t be effective.  Take it from me, because I never follow my own advice and my life is a mess.

6. Most important: take you children to a therapist and examine whether and to what extent the poisonous atmosphere between the two homes is affecting them.  You are not the most important part of this problem: your children are.  Do what you can to limit the damages even if Margaret will not.



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. echinachea

    I think I just messed up a “reply” by responding in the wrong place. Anyway, excellent points, Robin. Best case scenario (after taking your advice, of course) would be for the Real Mom to try to open her heart to Second Mom and think about the benefits of the kids’ having more loving adults in their lives than just the Biological Originals. I know, it is tough stuff, but it pays off. You (Robin) are spot on that Real Mom needs to ignore/quit viewing new wife’s social media crappola. And if she truly loves those kids, they are better off for it. Undoubtedly the games are painful, but over time, they will cease, especially if the flames of envy and resentment are not fed with accelerants.

  2. Ali Whiting

    The kids need to be told that every family is different and stop comparing. If everything is wonderful in life, why waste time stalking someone that aggravates you? Robin is on target as usual-therapy is definitely needed.

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