When I first embarked on this stepmom journey, it didn't take me long to realize I was in over my head. Despite having a background in Psychology, a diploma in Social Service Work and years of experience dealing with families in crisis, when it came to actually walking the walk, it turned out being the Expert on the outside and actually living it, were two very different things!
So I did what we all do these days when we're looking for support. I went to the internet. Specifically Facebook. I requested to join various "Stepmom Support" groups, feeling relieved and excited about finally connecting with women who GET IT!
However, when I received acceptance into some of these groups, relief quickly turned into disgust.
Many of these groups weren't providing support, they were a essentially a space for stepmoms to say horrific things about their husband's ex-wife, and sometimes even their stepchildren.
For the first time, I started to understand the sentiment behind the "evil stepmom stereotype"
Basking in negativity and publicly putting people down just isn't my thing.
Not to mention, it does nothing to improve the challenges that stepmoms face.
Look, I know some stepmoms find this type of outlet therapeutic. It's a place for them to release built up stress about the challenges that inevitably come with being a stepmom and a member of a blended family.
Heck, I love a good vent session every now and again too.
HOWEVER I still think that expressing your colourful opinion of your husband's ex-wife on the internet is a terrible idea...
No matter how bad things seem. No matter how frustrated or angry you are, you should never take to the world wide web to bash your husband's ex-wife (or your stepchildren for that matter)
Here Are 6 Reasons Why ....
1. The Internet Is Forever
When you're upset, you're speaking (or in this case typing) with your emotions not with your head.
Even in Private Groups you cannot be certain that what you write won't be shared or viewed by someone you know.
Even if you decide to delete it, the Internet is forever.
Have you ever heard of a screenshot?
I know of many situations where Facebook Comments & Disparaging Status Updates have ended up in court documents.
To be honest, degrading someone online, doesn't quite paint the picture of positive role model for kids.
2. Your Facebook Friends do not want to hear about your family drama
When it comes to Facebook Status', I'll never understand the motive behind putting a passive aggressive comment intended for one, on a list of of hundreds.
Issues surrounding custody and access disputes are personal and private. They are not intended for a list of your 400 "closest" Facebook Friends.
You're basically giving your community permission to put your family in the local gossip pool.
Even though you'll get a few "you go girl" comments on the responses below, the vast maturity of Society (or Facebook) is asking themselves "why would she put that online?"
3. It's not your responsibility to show people the "truth"
I've heard many stepmoms say that the reason they put information about their stepfamily situation on their Facebook Status, is because they want people to know the truth about their husband's ex-wife and "everything that she has done".
First off, it's important to realize that your truth is not necessarily everyone else's truth. I'm willing to bet that the way you experience your husband's ex-wife is very different than how Little Johnny's Mom down the street experiences her (and vice versa). The woman may be a phenomenal friend and killer at the PTA meeting, while still being a complete nightmare of an ex-wife. I always say, co-parenting and divorce doesn't bring out everyone's shiniest qualities!
Second, if there is a "truth" to be learned, people will figure it out on their own. It's not something you need to take on.
Third, and most importantly, this type slander, speaks way more about you than it does about your husband's ex-wife. Chances are, your motive will backfire in a big way.
I always say:
"the way people treat you is more about them than it is about you" - this saying happens to go both ways.
4. You are a parent, and should be modelling appropriate and respectful behaviour
When you decided to marry a man with kids (or have kids yourself) you instantly became a role model.
These kids are watching you and watching your behaviour. You are setting an example. They watch how you respond to stressful situations and they watch house you treat people.
Even when they aren't around, act how you want them to act.
Think of it this way:
How would you and your husband respond if you found out that your teenage step-daughter was disparaging one of her peers online? What if she was calling another girl names, airing her dirty laundry and writing about her personal issues on social media?
It's called online bullying. It's illegal and its taken very seriously. Chances are she would be suspended or even expelled from school for this.
So why is it somehow acceptable for adults?
(I'll give you a hint - it's not)
5. She is the Mother of Your Stepchildren
Chances are you love these little people. You also love their dad. They are en extension of him, and this woman is an extension of them.
I'm willing to bet, that regardless of your opinion, she is one of the most important people in those kids lives.
No matter what.
Even if they tell you otherwise.
An insult on her, is essentially and insult on them.
6. Respect that she is an important person in your stepchildren's lives.
Lastly, I think that it is imperative that your respect your stepchildren's Mom.
Even if you can't stand her.
Even if you think she is a terrible parent.
Even if the sight of her makes you want to vomit because she has dragged you and your husband to hell and back... she is their mom and no matter what, your stepkids do love her. Respect that she is an important figure in their lives.
Respecting her role means that you respect them.
Look stepmama's - I'm not trying to be preachy here. I'm not undermining the fact that being a stepmom is a tough gig, especially for those who are dealing with a high conflict situations.
Heck, for all I know, your husband's ex could be dragging your name through the mud too. (But remember, two wrongs don't make a right)
What I'm saying is that bashing your husband's ex-wife on the internet is not a great idea. It's not going to improve your stepfamily life. It's not going to make things more harmonious. It's not going to settle down conflict. In fact, I'm willing to bet, it's not going to do anything positive for your situation at all!
My advice? Get a journal, call a friend, or get yourself an appointment with a therapist.
Find a healthy way to work through the extra stressors and challenges that come with blended family life, and keep the internet out of it.
You can thank me later.