If you are struggling with what to do next, read on for some easy to follow step parent advice and effective step parenting tips.
How to be a good stepparent
1. Establish respect between you and the child
I say child, but this can be applied to multiple children.
Terms of respect should, initially, be laid out by the biological parent.
Before I married my husband, I remember he firmly told his daughter: “you see this woman, here? You need to respect her. I never want to hear you disrespecting her.”
He has said this to her multiple times in my presence and till this day, 4 years later, he still reminds her.
But here’s the key step parent advice.
As the step-parent, you are also obligated to give just as much respect to the child.
It’s not a one-way street. Their space, their unique family dynamic, and their feelings matter; never make them feel otherwise.
2. Be their friend
Once respect is understood, then comes friendship.
Yes, discipline is important but as you learn the best way to discipline (by watching the biological parent and by learning more about the child), smile, laugh, and play with them.
Do not be a stand-offish step-parent.
That’s the step parent advice that will help you ease into your relationship with your stepchild.
It will take some work but try your best to connect with the child. As far as discipline goes, talk to your future spouse about limits and what you’re both comfortable with.
I’ll never forget the evening I was playing and having a good time with my stepdaughter when I accidentally hit her (hard).
I comforted her and said sorry as she cried.
When her dad got home, he asked what happened. She said, “We were playing, and she accidentally hit me.” I exhaled a sigh of relief.
I don’t know why I expected her to portray me as the evil stepmother as I prepared to defend myself. She protected me as a friend.
3. Maintain a routine just between you and the child
It doesn’t have to be everyday but there should be something they can identify you with, such as going to the park, having tea parties, or evening bike rides.
I read to my stepdaughter at night and sometimes I watch her favorite YouTube channel with her.
She loves that because it’s just between me and her. In her eyes, I have earned a place in her heart.
4. Be aware, children will try to test you
Another useful step parent advice. Step parenting is not for the faint of heart.
Endure those growing pains. Don’t expect things to always be peaches and cream.
When I would pick my stepdaughter up from daycare, all the kids would yell “Your mom is here!” Very matter-of-factly, she would respond “she is not my mom.” And even though I knew that and wasn’t trying to take the place of her mom, to my surprise it hurt when she said that.
But I pushed those feelings aside to give her the love she deserved.
I gave her a warm welcome, realizing that she was still trying to figure things out herself and that she is entitled to express how she needs to.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Shawandie Beale is an Identity Life Coach and blogger encouraging single women to live on purpose before marriage. She also teaches married women how to maintain their identity in marriage. She is a wife and a mom of 2 girls.Blog Instagram page