While being a stepparent can be rewarding and fulfilling, often times, the journey begins at a rocky road. A rocky, challenging, sometimes frustrating road.
Perhaps you’re currently at the beginning of that rocky road. If that’s the case, let me assure you that the road can get smoother.
Below are a few steps to help you understand what your role as a new step parent should be. Buckle up and brace yourself.
Understand That Your Stepchild Might Be Mourning.
At some point, you’ve probably thought “WHAT’S THEIR DEAL?” You’ve probably been as nice and patient with your stepchild, as humanly possible, but your step child/children just can’t seem to come around! Ever heard the saying “DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL”? Well, in this situation, really, don’t take it to heart. Your partner’s child could be mourning the separation of their birth parents. They may need time to heal before they can fully accept you as a new parent. In their minds, the idea of you and their parent may mean the end of hope that their parents will reunite; even if it has been several years since the separation (Grown children often cling to that hope for a really long time). This reality can make them feel angry, confused, and even hurt
Understand That Healthy Communication With the Ex Is Important.
Sure, you might not be BFFs with your partner’s ex, but you know what you, your partner, and their ex all share in common? You guessed it… your step children! It would be in your best interest to keep an open line of communication with the ex. After all, you are around his/her kids. Minimal conflict and open communication between you and the ex about their kids can make a big difference regarding how easily kids accept you as their stepparent. Communicating with your partner’s ex is also important in efforts to keep the rules as consistent as possible. Although, it is your home and you can make the rules as you’d like, children need consistency. While you don’t have to mirror the exact pattern of the ex’s house rules, remember that kids can quickly learn how to “work the system” for short-term gain and that can cause long-term problems between you, them, the ex, and your partner. Try your best to stay on similar pages with raising your step children.
Understand The Role You Play.
Figuring out your role as a parent is something you’ll have to include your step children and partner in. To a large extent, your role depends on the age of the child. For example, if you entered their life as an infant or a young child, it may be easier to assume the role of a third parent and, eventually, possibly, another disciplinarian. If, however, you entered the child’s life as a teenager, your role may be more of the supportive, friendly adult. Never assume that you immediately have to “take charge” in a parenting role towards your step- child. The role of being the disciplinarian and the parent that “takes charge” is for the child’s biological parents. It’s important to understand and respect that, or you might as well be asking for the dreaded “You’re not my real mom/dad!” response.
Though you may currently be at the beginning of that rocky road of step parenting, it can get smoother. You mustn’t stop. You mustn’t turn back around. Just Keep Driving.
Communication is important in these moments, so you both are on the same page and respect each other’s beliefs.
These five questions seem light-hearted and fun, but you’ll be surprised how much it will reveal about your partner. Find out what they are and start asking.
At CWC Coaching, our team consists of licensed therapists, life coaches, and counselors. We assist clients with self-improvement, career development, negative self-talk, psychological pain, self-sabotaging behavior, past hurts and finding your purpose. If you are ready to increase your self-awareness and happiness, breakthrough limiting behavior and understand your purpose in life, we’d love to help guide you on this journey.