Sympathy for his ex-spouse, the bio mom
It can be difficult to feel sorry for the bio mom who seems to go out of her way to make it as hard as possible for your new spouse and for you. How can he balance managing her shrill demands with giving his new family the attention it needs? How can a new step mom develop a meaningful relationship with her step kids if their bio mom has nothing but negative things to say about her? To make matters worse, a toxic bio mom very likely is also making things even more difficult for her children. How can they accept their new step mom if even liking her makes them feel guilty? If the bio mom of your step kids is driving you up the wall, imagine what it feels like for the kids!
Encouraging an unpleasant bio mom to detoxify
Many step family experts suggest the bio mom is simply terrified of losing anything more than she has already lost, and does not know how to express her fears in a more productive way. Regardless, when you show patience and understanding for their bio mom, your step kids can feel less pressure, and may even feel a growing respect for you. Try making things easier on the kids by neutralizing her toxic influence on you. Never, ever, speak badly about her to the kids, and step up to support her parental authority and devotion whenever appropriate. Keep her posted on upcoming step family plans which may affect her time with the kids. Do not ask your step kids to call you Mom. Help them choose cards and gifts for her on Mothers Day, birthdays, and other family holidays. These measures cannot guarantee Bio Mom will clean up her act, but your example can at least set the standard for responsible behavior.
Dealing with his toxic ex-spouse
As a new blended family wife, you have seen how confrontational, hurtful, unfair, demanding, and downright unreasonable a toxic ex-spouse can be; you know how your husband struggles to keep their tattered relationship on an even keel for the sake of the kids. You also know that while he is busy attending to her crisis of the day, your husband is less available to you and to your blended family. You can help your husband by supporting him and letting him know you understand his dilemma; you can help your marriage by asking your husband to begin treating his former wife as less of an ongoing responsibility and more as an ex-spouse. This means contact should be limited strictly to co-parenting matters and nothing else. It also means that he is in charge of dealing with any issues over inappropriate contact. Your getting involved with the ex-spouse over these kinds of conflicts would be as unproductive and ineffective as trying to handle her toxic bio mom behavior.
Your role as step family spouse of a partner with a toxic ex-spouse is to be supportive, make helpful suggestions, request changes which could increase your comfort level, and then step back and allow him to handle things. Your role as a step mom is to help your step kids cope with the negativity and confusion their toxic bio mom instigates. As always, good communication is your best tool in dealing with outside forces that challenge your blended family. Be sympathetic but direct with your spouse, reassuring with your step kids, and honest with yourself when it comes to dealing with a toxic ex-spouse or bio mom. Remember that you can control only your own actions, your own words, and your own reactions. The Dalai Lama advises that if you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Take this important blended family advice, and wrest power back from toxic people who try to control your husband, your step kids, and your blended family.