So, you found yourself in a role of a step parent? And you feel you might use some step parenting advice? It’s a tricky situation, one that will require all of you to make some changes and to discover how to deal with your new roles. But, as any other skill in life, step-parenting is something that can be brought to perfection with some effort and a will to learn.
Here is some important step parenting advice you should put into practice from the very beginning of your new family life
1. Learn new ways of seeing the reality from your new family
Remember, stepfamilies are often complicated and sometimes hard to handle, but they are that much more diverse and rich. Not that this would be the first thing that comes to your mind when in the midst of a new family quarrel, but do try to think about this fact when you have a quiet moment.
Regardless of who makes your new family, in any case, you all will learn from each other new ways of seeing the reality. And this is an inspiring position to be in.
2. Adapt to the age of your new stepchildren
Your behavior will have to be adapted to the age of your new stepchildren. If the child is younger, it is easier for everyone to settle in. A younger child may still be in a phase in which making new bonds and attachments comes relatively easy. Although even such newly formed family might hit a rough patch, that is nothing compared to becoming a stepparent of an adolescent.
Teenagers are a handful on their own, let alone if they’re not your own. Not to mention the array of tactics to show you how dissatisfied with the new situation they are at their disposal.
The best advice in this situation is to be respectful of the autonomy the adolescent is trying to develop. He or she doesn’t need another authority to fight right now. Rather, an open and approachable attitude might work better.
3. Don’t try to replace the biological parent
Don’t try to impose to be called Mom or Dad, and all that comes with it. There are more kinds of affection, not just the one a child feels for the biological parent. Your new child can love you within your specific role, and in a way that is genuine and unique for the two of you. So, don’t try to get into someone else’s place, but find your own place instead.
4. Don’t oppose the biological parent’s wishes and rules
When the biological parent denies the child the permission to go to a birthday party, it might be tempting to collect some points by not only permitting it, but also buying him/her new clothes to wear for the occasion, getting a fancy present, and driving the child to the venue. Yet, this is a serious transgression that will inevitably cause an avalanche of problems for everyone involved.
Instead, step back, and remember that the marriage between your spouse and their ex is what fell apart, but they are still the child’s parent. Such respect will help everyone find their new place more easily.
5. Don’t get in between your spouse and their children’s quarrels
It might seem like a good opportunity to get involved, but this is actually something that they need to resolve while also learning to cope with the new family situation. Both your spouse and the child might find such intervention by you intrusive and unwanted. The spouse might feel as if you were questioning their parenting skills (which they might doubt at that moment themselves), and the child could feel ganged up on.
6. Don’t give too much liberty or be overly tolerant
Yes, you should not over-discipline your stepchild, but you should not be overly tolerant and open-handed either, as this might not meet the reaction you hoped for. Understand that the child simply has to go through the acclimatization process, and has to do it quickly. They will test the boundaries, rebel, see what they can get from you, and all that would normally occur in years of shared development.
Be patient, and don’t try to buy the affection and respect; it will come with time and for the right reasons. And one last advice – remember, it will be challenging, but no one is perfect. Cut yourself some slack for errors that you’re bound to make, and view your new family life as a learning process. You all need to get adapted to the new situation, and even though all eyes might be on you right now, everyone has it difficult. And everyone will change over time and get settled into their new roles. So, don’t despair if the things aren’t looking all rosy – they will, eventually.