This mum was less than impressed when her ex’s partner took her child for a Santa photo.

Co-parenting can be difficult at the best of times, but one step mum has shared her story in an advice column, recounting her experience of taking her step daughter for a Santa photo. The child’s mother was less than impressed with the plan, calling her ex-husband to question the decision and express her anger about his new partner overstepping her role.

A Struggle On Both Sides

Things didn’t get off to a great start. “When her mother heard about (the Santa photo) she hit the ceiling,” the step mother said. “She said I had no right to take the child anywhere and called my husband and really laid into him.”

The story highlights the struggle on both sides of the a co-parenting relationship says. For the mother of the child, the whole situation can feel like a total loss of control. She doesn’t get to spend the entirety of the festive period with her daughter, there’s a new mother figure in her daughter’s life, and she probably feels threatened by any unilateral decisions made without her input.

On the other hand, for the child’s father and his new partner, the mother’s reaction can seem like an overreaction and a petty way of controlling their level of involvement.

What’s Really Important

In situations like these, it can be easy to lose focus on what’s really important – the interests of the child. We think that clear communication and empathy is the best place to start. If the stepmother notices that the child’s mother is particularly sensitive about her making unilateral decisions, big or small, that affect the child, then perhaps she should take a step back for now. We also can’t help but feel that the child’s father should be a better mediator in these kinds of situations, asking permission from his ex rather than her hearing it from the child.

As for the mother, it should be reassuring to know that her child has someone in their life who cares enough about them to make their festive season as magical as possible.

Have you experienced a complicated co-parenting situation? Tell us in the comments!


  • I personally think that if your ex get’s remarried and your child goes to the your ex’s house for their regular visitation etc that you shouldn’t really have a say on what happens in that home.

    That is there personal space and I believe that they should be able to parent their style and vice versa. As long as the child is happy, healthy, loved and not upset to be in either household I think giving ex’s space to parent their way rather than being a “helicopter ex!” would make things a long better in the long run.


  • I believe co parenting can be very hard indeed, especially when there is conflict, resentment and bitterness between the ex-partners.


  • It can be so hard with separated parents. They really need to think of the kids best interest not their own.


  • I know of a case where the wife handled all the money and was supposed to pay the mortgage, accounts etc. Every time the children asked for something, no matter how cheap it was the Mum told the children she had no money to ask their father to buy it. She was getting Supporting Parents’ Pension. not paying rent, water etc. at all. Although I was helping care and support the kids she played the children off against their father and me. He paid the unpaid mortgage,, her debts that he previously knew nothing about. The only thing she really paid for was food. The kids told us there was more alcohol in the fridge than there was food. We made sure they had sufficient food to eat and I made some of their clothes. One of the kids had “worms” The Mum even made her wait a couple of days until the Dad collected the girls and told him he needed to buy worm tablets. If she dropped the kids off she would say the youngest one needed a new dummy.


  • Always hard when trying to keep everyone happy in blended families. Sometimes parents argue about things that really just hurt the kids. Sad really.


  • Both parents should be allowed to take child or should have to agree to go together. Its not up to one to decide the rules and its the child gets stuck in a situation. Lucky child if both parents take double the spoiling and day out!!


  • If they couldn’t go together to get it done, there is really nothing stopping BOTH parents from taking the girl to see Santa and get a pic! This really isn’t about the picture though, as the birth mothers real issue was that her ex husbands NEW wife took their child. Like it or not that woman is going to be a big part of her daughters life and it’s probably better for them to get along!


  • That’s so sad. Santa is a big deal for kids though and the Mum probably wanted to do this herself?


  • my husband’s ex is a control freak and used to abuse us for everything then she became a step mum and settled down a little after breaking all the rules of her step child’s mother like feeding him meat when he was rained vegetarian


  • Must be very hard. Probably a lot of emotions are playing their part.


  • Co parenting, it just that co parenting, everything they do needs to be for and about the children involved, yes not everything will be smooth sailing but there should always be compromise.

    • Exactly it is all about the child and adults need to always put the child first. Agendas need to be put to the side.

      • I totally agree. It’s always the poor kids in situations like this that get hurt because their parents are too worried about things like this.


  • Co parenting has to be about the child and parents need to work together.


  • It’s hard in these situations when the parents what what they feel is best but at the end of the day it is the child that is stuck in the middle.

    • I agree, it’s always the child that comes out the worst in these situations


  • We always wind up visiting a couple of santas for photos. What’s the big deal if it’s with different parents?


  • The child should be at the heart of all decisions in situations like this. Sounds like the birth mother is a bit controlling and bitter and overreacting because of it. If the child was happy to sit for the photo and had a good day shouldn’t that be enough? She can always take the kid for their own Santa photo of it’s that important. Adults need to stop playing this insane game of tug of war with kids, even when it’s only coming from one side it’s still damaging.


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