The 101 On Step Parenting:
I am a step parent myself, not officially by marriage or anything, but I definitely fill the role in my home.
This type of role cannot be avoided especially when the child is under your roof/care 50% of the time. Your partner’s child becomes apart of your life and often, you will make decisions with them in mind.
But there’s no denying that there are set boundaries and rules in place that step parents need to abide by so to avoid crossing the fine line between appropriate and inappropriate co parenting. Afterall, you aren’t the biological parent. But this boundary becomes a difficult one when the said biological parent ins’t as present and involved in the child’s life as they should be.
Let us discuss the topic further.
What Is A Step Parent?
A step parent is a parent who has either married the mother or the father of a child, but they aren’t the child’s mother or father. They have simply married into the family and play a mother or fatherly role but don’t assume the role.
Meeting The Children For The First Time:
I know this can be the most daunting task of all and me telling you to relax is much easier said than done but the best thing I can suggest, is for you to just be yourself. Cliche isn’t it? Humour me. Your partner obviously found your traits attractive, hence the reason they are with you and now they want to share your amazingness with their children. This is great for us.
Some hints and tips to break the ice:
- Buy your partner’s child their favourite sweet treat (helps at least crack a smile)
- Smile, be your friendly self.
- Don’t wear anything too revealing (you aren’t going on a date – lets be appropriate, people!)
- Don’t ask too many questions (this is overwhelming for the children too)
- Don’t try for physical affection on the first day – stick to high fives (more casual) – let the children come to you.
- Don’t engage in public displays of affection with your new found partner. Remember, this is a big day as it is. Public affection could anger them and cause them to shut you out completely.
- Acknowledge the child’s feelings.
- Meet your partner’s child in a public place (nice quiet restaurant) – Never meet at home. Home is a safe place where they can escape too. This is a big transition for them. Allow them to escape to their safe space if they need to.
- Don’t sit next to your partner. Allow your partner to sit next to their child so that the child feels more comfortable.
- Don’t talk about the other parent – wait for the child to bring it up.
Do You Meet The Requirements?
As a step parent, it is so important that you remain as neuteral as possible. There are also certain things that are required of you as a step parent that you need to fufill inorder to meet the needs of the child and ensure a happy, balanced home is achieved.
What you need to do:
- Provide Structure
What you shouldn’t do:
- Assume the role of a parent.
- Shout unnecessarily.
- Discourage or putdown.
- Use fowl language.
- Never badmouth the other parent.
Never badmouth the other parent. The best thing you could do for your relationship with your step child, is keep those lines of communication open and never, under any circumstances, badmouth the other parent. This will not work in your favour. On the contrary, being the bigger person, so to speak, gets you ahead of the game by a long mile. I used to uplift my partner’s ex like it was going out of fashion. Granted, my step child is six years old, I was able to use phrases such as “we love mommy” and “we don’t do ugly things to mommy” and “Let’s make this for mommy”. By doing this, I was able to win my step child’s trust in no time and, as a result, he confides in me more than he does his own mother.
Be the positive one. Divorce/Separation is never easy. In fact, it can be quite emotionally and financially draining. Be the light in the dark. Allow your stepchild to see your happiness and hopefully they will feed off of it and produce better results all round. This is beneficial for you as you will score brownie points with your partner too as they will find your positivity and endless support incredibly attractive. And thus, you have a balanced household. Remember, a negative mindset doesn’t set you up for the future, it sets you back.
Don’t be He man. Everyone loves a superhero, but lets face it – you aren’t one. Us humans weren’t designed to be able to do it all. We overheat and burnout. We cry and have our frustrations and that’s okay. Being a step parent is a very stressful role that is coupled with a heck of a lot of responsibility. It definitely isn’t for the fainthearted by any stretch. Remember, you are doing the best you can. It’s okay to break down every once in a while.
Assert your position. Regardless of age, if you don’t stand your ground from day one, it’s game over for you. Children will run wild if they catch a sniff at weakness. They are like bloodhounds. Be firm. But don’t over do it. They will already be shocked as it is – especially if you’ve been Mr Nice Guy all the time. State what upset you, provide a solution and layout your future expectations so to prevent the situation from happening again.
Factors That May Affect Your Relationship With Your Step Child:
- The age of the children – Younger children have an easier time adjusting compared to older children.
- How long you’ve known the children – The longer you’ve known the child, the better. Having an existing history with the child makes for a smooth transition.
- How long you dated the parent before you married – take your time. Don’t rush. Children can sense if you’re going to stick around or not.
- How well you get along with the ex – even if the ex hates your guts, whenever you are around the child, always be as nice as you can and kill them with kindness. This can make a big difference in the child’s eyes. You don’t want to be seen as ‘hurting’ the other parent.
- How much time the children spend with you – quality time is paramount. Try and do one-on-one bonding activities with your step child.
Now that you’ve all united as a new family, it is time to spice things up.
- Create a family tradition – Have hot chocolate every Friday before school, go for a walk every Saturday, Have movie night every Sunday Evening
- Go away to a new destination. Avoid going to places that may evoke old memories – it may be upsetting for everyone involved.
I hope this has been somewhat helpful and even if you don’t implement any of my suggestions, thanks for reading.