Parenting is a tough job, probably the toughest (sorry quantum physicists). Then when you add a hostile ex-partner, potentially disrespectful stepchildren and maybe a slightly dysfunctional stepfamily at the initial stages, it seems almost impossible.
But my fellow superhero stepparents, keep in mind the fact that you just went through a divorce, patched your life back up, found someone you truly belong with and are going to make a life altering decision, this time not only for yourself, but your children as well. So it’s alright to feel a bit uncertain.
This can be an extremely stressful phase for both parent and child alike. You’re trying your best to make sure your existence is acknowledged and your kids are trying to find where they fit in (or to make things even more stressful, they’re not!) But here are some foolproof tips that apply to all blended families and can prove to be very helpful:
All successful stepparents know that step parenting requires persistence, patience and an even silly seeming sense of optimism and positivity.
-Be hopeful and positive always: A defiant or non-accepting child is only a confused child who is unable to process the raging emotions (like when you miss out on that clearance sale you’ve been waiting for months for). So being a parent, albeit a new one, you need to give hope to said child and remain friendly and positive.
-Voice your understanding of your role: Most children are uncomfortable with the idea of someone trying to take their biological parent’s place. Make sure you communicate with them and let them know that you do not intend to “replace” the absent parent but to develop a long lasting relationship with them, however awkward it may initially be.
-Don’t be the stepmonster: A stepmonster, the stereotypical stepparent who makes you do the dishes, brush your teeth and lets you sleep by the kitchen fire. Do not, I repeat do NOT be the stepmonster. You do not need to acquire the role of the implementer as soon as you make an appearance. Instead, be supportive of the decisions of the biological parent and back him/her up. That way you can stay out of the spotlight, understand the mentality of the child and ultimately strengthen the bond between you.
-Be approachable and accepting: The transition days are exceptionally tough. You need to make room for erupting emotions and maybe some tears. Put the negativities and differences to a side and talk to your step children in a constructive environment. Ideally with the biological parent in the room so they don’t feel abandoned behind enemy lines. Believe me, it pays off.
-Keep your emotions in check: One can say a lot in the heat of the moment and where children are likely to forgive their biological parents, they are not as forgiving of stepparents. So whenever you feel like things are getting out of hand, seek some help from your significant other instead of losing control.
Remember that laughter is a great opportunity to connect with your children and is an antidote to the tension that is likely to arise in blended family. So don’t lose your sense of humor and know that one day, the only steps in the house would be on the staircase.