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Parenting Stepchildren/Step-mom forbids child's relationship with ex-step-mom


My ex-husband (son’s bio father) and I divorced before my son was two years old.  My son lived with me after the divorce and my ex-husband was granted visitation every other weekend.  When my son was about five years old, I fell in love with another woman. She moved in with me and my son and we became a “non-traditional family” with me being mom, and my female partner being step-mom.  She and I raised my son together for the next seven years.  Although we split up about two years ago, my ex-partner is still involved in my son’s life.  My son (now 14 years old) still enjoys spending time with her.  She attends his sporting events and even picks him up from school every other Friday so she can spend a few hours with him before she drops him off at my ex-husbands for the weekend.  
I now have a new (female) partner that is the absolute love of my life.  My son loves her and accepts her as a step-mom.  My dilemma is that that my new partner does not understand why I allow my ex-partner to continue to have a role in my son’s life.  My son can look up from the football field and not only see me and my partner (his step-mom) cheering him on but he can also see his ex-step-mom and his father.  Attending one of my son’s football games with my partner and both my ex-husband and my ex-partner in attendance can be extremely stressful, especially for my partner, but I am grateful they are there to show their support.  
Over the year that we have lived together, my partner, son and I have taken numerous hiking, camping and fishing trips together.  We vacation, go deer hunting and are blessed to be able to enjoy spending lots of time together.  Recently, my partner has become openly resentful of the few hours a month that my son spends with his ex-step mom.  My partner feels that he relationship between my son and his ex-step-mom is preventing us from becoming a family and she is insisting that I no longer allow my son to see or have anything to do with his ex-step-mom. I feel caught in the middle and don't want to have to "choose sides" between my son's relationship with his ex-step-mom and my relationship with my partner.
Is allowing my son to continue his relationship with his ex-step-mom hurtful to him or in his best interest?
Should I cut the ties between my son and his ex-step-mom in order to make my new partner happy?


What a great question!! The feelings your new partner has are not unusual in a family like yours. It may be helpful to remind your new partner that it was you and your "ex" that broke up, not your "ex" and your son. It is best for your son to be able to keep the relationships that are meaningful to him intact in his life.

Perhaps what your new partner can do is focus on building a relationship as well with your son. It is apparent that she is involved in his life, so what are the unique things that she can offer to further enhance his life? Is she a terrifi cook, an awesome sports fan, avid at fishing? Some stepparents do get overly focused on the realtionships that their stepchildren have an lose focus on what they can contribute and add to the child's life.

I am hopeful this information is helpful for you!

Parenting Stepchildren

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KaRae' Carey, PhD


I can answer questions that pertain to challenges stepparents face, as well as challenges with adjustment and integration of the stepfamily. I can answer questions about psychological, emotional, and social changes that affect adults and children in stepfamilies. I can answer questions that have to do with the emotional and psychological impact of stepfamilies pertaining to child support, visitation, or divorce.


I am a stepmother to one boy and one girl. I have been in their lives since they were about 8 years old. I have first-hand "real life" experience with 'baby mama drama' and strains in marriage due to the complications and challenge that being a new stepmother presented. Bio: Inspired and motivated by her experiences as both a stepdaughter and stepmother of two children, Dr. Carey founded the Triangle Stepfamily Institute and is committed to empowering stepfamilies. She has first-hand experience both personally and professionally, with the difficulties people may experience when adjusting to stepfamily life. Dr. Carey believes that with the right support, and armed with knowledge, living harmoniously within a stepfamily is possible. She has dedicated countless hours to understanding the delicate functioning of the stepfamily and has produced several articles related to stepfamily relationships and functioning. Dr. Carey has studied with research pioneers and clinical leaders in the field of stepfamily life. She has also conducted independent research about stepfamilies with a focus on the concerns of the stepmother. She has also earned certification as a stepfamily counselor. Dr. Carey has also earned seven specialty certifications. Dr. Carey’s specialty certifications include being a nationally certified professional counselor, an accredited clinical supervisor, a credentialed distance counselor, board certified health services professional, school guidance counselor, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and a certified stepfamily counselor. For more information on services, or to request Dr. Carey for counseling, interviews, or speaking opportunities, please contact her through her web site, or by calling 919-454-7857.

National Association of Professional Women American Counseling Association Licensed Professional Counselors Association of North Carolina

Publications, expert author

Oakland University, Rochester, MI Ph.D. in Counselor Education 2009 Dissertation: “The Experience of the African American Stepmother: An Exploratory Investigation ” Honors: Dissertation nominated for 2010 Outstanding Humanistic Dissertation Award Cognate Concentrations: Child and Adolescent Mental Health & School Guidance Counseling Major Advisor: Robert Fink, PhD Madonna University, Livonia, MI M.S. in Clinical Psychology 2002 Madonna University, Livonia, MI B.S. Psychology 2000 Cartified Stepfamily Counselor, Stepfamily Foundation, 2011 • Licensed Professional Counselor, State of North Carolina, (6893) • National Certified Counselor, NBCC, (234907) • Credentialed Distance Counselor, CCE, (966) • Approved Clinical Supervisor, CCE, (ACS01058) • Board Certified Health Services Professional, CCE, (1472) • Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist- Provisional- State of North Carolina • Licensed Bachelor of Social Work, State of Michigan, (6802084095) • Limited Licensed Psychologist, State of Michigan, (6301012018) • Social Worker Registration, State of Michigan, (6803075415) • School Counselor license (K-12), State of Michigan, (SC000554) • School Counselor license (K-12), State of North Carolina, (XXXXX2200)

Awards and Honors
•Kappa Gamma Pi, National Catholic College Honor Society, inducted 2000 •Chi Sigma Iota, Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society International, inducted 2005 •Robert Brown Memorial Fund Scholarship, 2005

Past/Present Clients
Step family members, children, adults, teens

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