Being a stepparent is not easy. That’s apparent even to those with
no experience with the situation due to the multitude of pop culture references
to the “step-parenting” (movies, sitcoms, etc.) But while
it’s not easy, it can be an amazing experience. If you are considering
becoming a stepparent or if you are currently struggling to come to grips with your new role,
consider these tips on surviving step-parenthood.
5 Tips for Surviving Step-Parenthood
1. Be patient. There’s a reason that they call patience a “virtue.”
It actually is. Stepparents need to have extra reservoirs when it comes
to patience. You can’t expect your stepchild to immediately fall
in love with you, and you should probably just assume that there will
be times when they will state quite clearly that they hate you. This is
one of the many situations in which you may find that only appropriate
response is to be patient with them.
2. Make sure your stepchild has their own “space.”
When attempting to create a place for a blended family, it can seem wasteful
to give children of similar ages their own rooms; particularly if the
budget is tight and the house is smaller than you might like. Many stepparents
will push their children/step-children to share a room. Be cautious. If
at all possible, allow each child to have their own room, and at the very
least, make it very clear that they have their own space and their own
“things.” You want your stepchild to know that your house
is his/her house, too. They need to know that their space and belongings
will be respected.
3. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page.
Nothing can make for a more miserable step-coupling experience than for
the couple to not be on the same page regarding everything from types
of discipline, structure of bedtimes, and manners to be exercised in the
home to how the child's other parent will be regarded and respected
in your home.
4. Make your own traditions
Holidays and traditions are what you make of them. Don't get hung
up on a date on the calendar. Consider making traditions that allow you
to have your own family time. Maybe you’ll celebrate Thanksgiving
the weekend before the actual holiday every year. Maybe you’ll have
a party every President’s Day. It can be difficult to feel like
you are getting all the necessary family and holiday time to really feel
like a family, so make sure that you make it happen.
5. Don’t attempt to replace “Mom” or “Dad.”
Your stepchildren live in your home and it’s their home, too because
you are married to their mom or dad. But it’s very important for
most stepchildren to be able to clearly see/understand that you don’t
assume this makes you their mom or dad. You came into their lives. You
married one of their parents. In almost every case, they do not want you
to be a mom or dad to them. At times, they may not want you there at all,
and this can be the most difficult aspect of step parenting of all. Give
them time and space to become comfortable with your presence. Make sure
they still have some one-on-one time with their parent as well as getting
some one-on-one time with you to get to know you better. If possible,
find something that interests them and learn more about it. Be what they
need: a friend, a go-between, a peacekeeper, a role model, a sounding
board…there are many needs you can fill and many things you can
be to your stepchildren without attempting to “replace” their
mom or dad. They already have a mom and a dad and need you to let them
see you as different.
If you have other questions related to step-parenting, how
custody and parenting time orders affect your step-family or other Arizona family law matters, please get
in touch with the
attorneys at Arizona Family Law Attorneys.