You’re now divorced and have become involved with a new man and he has kids. Many women find themselves wanting to be considered the “new mum” and be called “mum” when they become involved or marry someone with children from a previous marriage.
Here are 7 reasons along with the “reality check” of why thinking you can be the “new mum” is not helpful and ways to maintain respect and dignity for your new family.
1. It sets up competition between you and the child’s mum creating tension and jealousy leaving the child or children in the middle.
Reality Check: The child and bio mum is always going to be the priority. It is a cliché but true, blood runs thicker. Give up the resistance that she is their mum and avoid competing for the title, ultimately the child will respect you more and appreciate who you are versus focusing on defending you to their mum.
2. It causes arguments between you and your new man regarding what the ex wife is requesting or needing.
Reality Check: The ex was there before you and so were her children. The reality is, she will win and you will lose when it comes to how to parent her children. Therefore, avoid being over demanding, it will be perceived as a power struggle and take away from your relationship and he may start holding back on what is going on to avoid conflicts with you.
3. It sets up you up for wanting to be liked and enables you to say yes to situations and requests that the child may want knowing their mum will say no.
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Reality Check: The child will learn early on you are easily manipulated and that they can get what they want from you. It may feel like they like you more, but you are setting up for them to not respect you and actually not like you.
4. The ex wife may feel in some cases she has power in your relationship if you and your spouse argue over his previous marriage children and her role.
Reality Check: If she is the subject of your arguments over their children, she has a lot of control over your mind and relationship with your new man. Avoid making her important in the wrong way. Your new man will respect you more and be less inclined to defend or protect her when you start getting upset.
5. The child must choose who they go to parent/teacher day, prom dress shopping, mummy daughter days, marriages, etc.
Reality Check: These events are pressure enough, and having to deal with mum’s fighting over who attends and when can make it even worse. The child may get anxiety, want to avoid the situation altogether and resent you for the pressure.
6. The child comes to you and shares her anger toward her mother and you validate and are there for her when she needs you.
Reality Check: She is going to make up with mum and you may feel left out when things are going good between them. This will create resentment and the possibility of your stirring up trouble so you can feel more connected. Be there for the child, but validate only and avoid all judgments of the mum.
7. The child feels guilty for having fun or letting you do her hair for example before she returns from the visit from seeing you and their dad. Avoid trying to “mark” her with your little gifts, it may be a nice gesture but could cause trouble if not well intended.
Reality Check: If his ex wife is feeling some concerns about your desire to move in on being mum to her children, she may get upset at her child and take it out on the child or ask for information about you from the child creating triangulation.
The child will learn how to be a secret keeper and avoid conflict. This backfires in the long run and the child will blame you later in life when she figures out you knew deep down what you were doing.
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The reality that divorced mums will remarry or get involved with a man who has children is high. Therefore, it is important for you and your new family to know your place and it is not to be called mum or act like the new mum to his children unless invited in and that means both him and the ex wife establish that with you.
It is hard to accept this reality, but it is important to remember, you are not his children’s mum, you are the woman he is with now and that has joined him and part of him is his past relationship and children. Once you can accept that reality, things will be a lot easier.