When Your Kid’s Father Remarries
If you have a child with a man with whom you are no longer romantically involved, you know, somewhere in the back of your mind, that some day, you’ll both find new partners. You also know, deep, deep down in your gut, that it’ll be a very complicated time that may bring you quite a bit of turmoil. But you try not to think about it because co-parenting is complicated enough as it is. You won’t both remain single forever, though. It’s only natural you low-key hope that you’re the first one to find somebody new, but sometimes that’s not how things go. It’s not how it went in the case of my singe-mom friend, who has been going through the trials and tribulations of having her kid’s dad remarry somebody new. Here’s a look at what that confusing change can be like for both the parents, the child, and the new stepparent.
She may want more parenting control
The new stepmom may want more say in the parenting. Before, when she was just the dad’s girlfriend, it felt totally natural to tell her to stay out of parenting your child. But now, as stepmother, she may feel she has some say in how your kid is parented.
She may get it, one way or another
Ultimately, she will be spending more time with your kid. Her and your ex/the kid’s father now live together. They’re man and wife. She’ll be around, all of the time, and her disciplinary style is bound to rub off on the kid whether you like it or not. So he’ll come home with some new habit or rule in mind that you didn’t put there.
You can’t tell her to stay out of it
You can’t tell her to stay out of parenting your kid anymore. How could you? She does provide supervision. He goes and stays under her roof. She feeds him. You can’t just ask her to be a robot nanny who provides sustenance and safety but doesn’t have any opinions.
The “stepmom” introduction makes you cringe
That first time you hear your kid introduce his stepmom as his “stepmom” makes you cringe. You’re the only person he should be referring to as mom in any way.
You can feel like the illegitimate half
Sometimes, you feel like the sloppy, train wreck side of this co-parenting deal. There they are, in domestic bliss, married, with their little neat husband and wife life. Seems like the kid fits in so well there. And here you are, the lonely single parent.
In fact, you feel them pitying you
You don’t really feel that you’re a mess, but you do feel your ex and his new wife pitying you. You can almost feel as if they are the real set of parents, and now you’re the outsider who they allow time with the kid sometimes.
They may get more holidays
Now that they’re married, your ex and his wife may ask for more holidays with the kid. They are building their own traditions, and it’s important to them that the child is included.
You don’t love the credit she gets
You sense her feeling like she’s a mom. You see people complimenting her on how she handles your child, and you see her like the compliment. Yuck. She’s acting like she birthed and raised him but she just got here. That beautiful lovely child—that’s all you.
But you can’t badmouth her
You cannot badmouth your kid’s stepmom in front of your kid. You know that will disrupt the peace. It’s important that he respect his stepparent, even if you don’t, or he won’t be well behaved over at dad’s house.
Their home may be nicer
Due to their combined incomes, they may be able to provide an aesthetically and objectively nicer house for your kid. Maybe they have a pool or a really big TV or a backyard. But don’t forget that your house is mom’s house, and that’s irreplaceable.
And the vacations/gifts they give him
Due to their combined incomes again, your ex and his wife may be able to provide your kid with fancier toys and nice vacations. Try not to let it get to you: your kid spends a lot of those vacations just missing you.
She may try to set you up
There may come a day, like happened to my friend, when your ex’s new wife tries to set you up on a date. Gross. In so many ways. Who does she think she is? She thinks she can fix everybody’s life. Also, it’s oddly incestuous for her to be with your ex and then try to handpick you a new man.
You secretly enjoy the help sometimes
Deep down, you appreciate the help of the third parent. She is actually a lifesaver. She’s gotten you out of a bind many times when something came up and neither you nor your ex could watch your child.
But admitting that makes you gag
You hate admitting how nice it is to have the extra help. You were so insistent that you were fine on your own before, so admitting that you like the help feels like admitting defeat (but that’s not what it means).
What if one day they have kids?
You know that one day, your ex and his wife may want to have children of their own. And then you’ll be dealing with the complex dynamic of the blended family. You’ll cross that bridge when you get to it.