While the discomforts, denials, and difficulties might keep you from being a step-parent, there are some perks that you will enjoy.
You will become have a chance to play a significant role in your stepchild’s life. The child can also build a strong bond with another adult apart from their biological parents. Most importantly, if you are newly married into a blended family, it will help you build a better relationship and bond with your stepchildren and your partner.
On the other side, it is also possible for your stepchildren to feel uncomfortable; their negative reactions from time to time and having significant differences from your partner are also part and parcel of the whole step-parenting idea.
But, it can be an enjoyable experience if you follow a few dos and don’ts I have listed in this article.
DOS & DON’TS Step Parents Need To Follow
Being a step-parent is not an easy task. Here are some of the things you should do as a step-parent and some things you should refrain from.
DON’T Rush Things
Your stepchild/ children have met you only a few times, and it has been a week or a month since you started to live together as a family. But it is still too early to be creating an instant bond. Kids are smarter than you think.
Many step-parents make the mistake of trying to make an instant bond by purchasing different gifts for their new step-children. However, things don’t work out that way. Coming too hard from the beginning will only make the children have the wrong idea about you. Instead, try being realistic and give it time for them to become comfortable with you.
So, the first step is to create a safe space between you and your stepchildren by giving this new bond time to bloom.
DON’T Set High Expectations
Just as you should not rush, you should also not expect too much right off the bat. Step parents with biological children of their own often forget that it is not possible for them to have the same level of bond so quickly that they share it with their biological children.
It is not possible to have the same level of interaction, bonds, and feelings right at the start. A parent shares a life history and different experiences with their biological children. Building the same with their stepchildren will take a longer time.
So, as a good step-parent, give your new family some time to adjust, accept the changes gradually, and don’t expect too much too fast.
DON’T Step Into Discipline Just Yet
Many step-parents make the mistake of stepping in to discipline their stepchildren right after they join the new family. They do it in an attempt to gain their respect. But in reality, the opposite happens.
We suggest that you take a step back for at least a year and let the biological parent handle the situation. But, once you earn their respect and acceptance, you can try to discipline them if they do anything inappropriate.
DON’T Take Things Personally
When their biological parents break up or divorce, they are usually heartbroken and hope that their parents will get back together. This is the worst time and situation for a step-parent to earn their stepchildren’s respect and acceptance.
The children are mourning the loss of their previous family, and since you are in the picture, they may have a hard time accepting you. You should never take this personally. Give them time to recover and adjust to the newly formed family.
Do Get In The Same Page With Your Partner
Yes, I did start with one of the don’ts of co-parenting your step-children. Here is another must-do step you need to follow to become a better step parent. You need to get on the same page with your partner in terms of parenting.
All parents have a different sets of rules for their children. These include – rewards, chores, allowances, punishments, bedtimes, and homework. Parenting becomes much more difficult when both parents are not on the same page. So, have a regular conversation with your partner regarding the best parenting method for your stepchildren.
DO Allow Your Stepchildren To Spend Time With Their Biological Parents
It is common among many step-parents not to allow their children to spend any time with their biological parents. These parents are threatened by the idea of their stepchildren’s biological parent (especially their partner’s ex) visiting the child or spending time together.
But, believe me, you don’t want to give out the feeling of competing for affection. Stopping your stepchildren from spending any time with their parents will only make you look miserable. Your step children will not be happy about it.
DO Attend Family Meeting Every Week
Regular family meetings will offer everyone in the family a chance to talk about their experience sharing life. You should make room for all the family members to share both positive and negative experiences and opinions regarding your time together as a family. This will help you make things better in the future.
DO Fun Activities With Your Step-Children
When your stepchildren start accepting you in their lives, you should take the opportunity to make some memories together. This could be done by doing simple things such as – going grocery shopping together, fishing, bowling, going to the movies, etc.
Sharing different experiences with your step children will allow you to build a bond with them. You will also learn a few things about being a better step parent.
Do Prepare For “You Are Not My Dad/ Mom.”
As a step parent, you will hear a lot from your stepchildren. It is common for most step-parents to hear, “ you are not my real mom/dad,” from time to time. These are moments you need to prepare yourself for. You can keep some common responses ready in mind.
You can start with something like – “yes, I am not your real mom/dad. But that does not mean I love you any less.”
If you do not have much experience raising kids, and this is your first time, here are some tips that come in handy:
- Start learning about parenting techniques such as positive parenting strategies. This strategy includes using routines to manage behavior, active listening, and using attention to improve behavior. You and your spouse could both take positive parenting classes.
- Increase your awareness regarding developmental ages and the stages that could affect your partner’s children.
- Keep abreast of your partner’s children’s daily routines, having a plan for the day if and when you’re looking after them while your partner is away.
- Think of the impact you might have on the child’s other parent because they might need time to adjust to the kind of role you are going to play.
A blended family member, Millicent, 40, says, “Invent your own definition of what a step mum or stepdad does. When my partner argues with his kids, I leave the room because that works best in our family. Don’t be afraid to make up your own rules so it works for you.”
Although blended families are more common nowadays, it is challenging to become a good step-parent right after the day you get married to your new partner who has children of their own. There are lots of dos and don’ts you need to follow to become a better family together.
I hope the tips mentioned in this article are helpful. I have offered some of the best tips you can use to improve yourself as a better step parent.
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