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.
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