Coping with your own kids may be complicated from time to time. But nurturing stepchildren may be double trouble if you don’t prepare well and put in enough effort to succeed. If you choose the wrong strategy, it may be difficult for you to create healthy relationships with your stepchildren and you may cause turbulence in the relationships with your new partner, too.
Check out the top useful step-parenting advice and get ready to care about your stepchildren with enthusiasm and pleasure for everyone.
Maintain the discipline
You sought how to file for divorce in Washington state because you couldn’t agree on certain issues and commit to your relationships anymore. But now you have a new partner and you support each other in all the pleasantries and hurdles. Plus, you have become a step-parent so you help your spouse with their kids, too.
You may be enthusiastic to establish steady and positive relationships with your stepchildren, but you’d better take it step-by-step not to spoil things from the very beginning. When it comes to discipline regulating your interaction with kids or their behaviour, it would be better if you don’t settle your own rules first but follow your partner’s patterns instead. The kid’s biological parent is the boss and you should obey in this case but not try to play the chief cop. Otherwise, children may rebel and refuse to communicate with you at all or behave worse than they used to.
Set the boundaries
As well as you should consult on step-parenting issues with your partner, you have to prove that you are authoritative enough in certain cases on your own. You need to show or explain to your stepchildren the boundaries of your relationships so that they treat you appropriately. Disrespect, humiliation, familiarity, and distance in interactions will only lead to undesirable outcomes. Behave like an adult, don’t let the kids manipulate or mistreat you in any other way or you can spoil both your relationships and the child’s behaviour in the long run.
In the same way, you shouldn’t let the children cross your boundaries, you mustn’t overstep in attitude towards them, too. When there is a situation in which the mother and father share authority, they should follow similar disciplining patterns and methods. More to this, when one partner is a stepparent, they shouldn’t be allowed more in the attitude to kids than the biological parent.
You should better apply similar rules and strategies when nurturing the kids but even to a smaller extent. Otherwise, children may think you are trying to replace their parents, while your partner may get offended by you trying to outdo them in parenting or taking too many responsibilities. Remember, you are there to help your partner but not to spoil the kids and ruin the family.
Nurture mutual respect
When talking about keeping up with the boundaries on both sides of stepparent-children relationships, the main principle to guide you is mutual respect. You can never expect stepchildren to respect you if you don’t respect them, their needs, rights, and interests.
Start with the realization that divorce affects kids, more often in a negative than positive way. So that only respect and understanding can help you establish healthy relationships with them. For example, you should count on their need to think through the changes that divorce has brought, their desire to keep on communicating with their partner’s ex, the wish to attract their parent’s attention, and so on. When you show your support, encouragement, or readiness to step aside when your stepchildren need their personal space, they will treat you in the same way eventually.
Communicate with your partner
Anyway, if you hesitate about how to approach your stepchildren in the best way, don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask your partner for help. They know their kids better and will come up with the idea of how to nurture your relationships fruitfully. Or you can always explore the tips for parents in situations similar to yours together so that both of you can commit to creating a new steady bond in your family. Remember that your spouse is the first person you should trust your family issues to. You shouldn’t overthink whether they treat you as a bad or poorly-qualified parent. Everyone in your family wants to reach mutual happiness, so if you ask for assistance and are open and kind to your family members, the outcomes will be more desirable than you can even expect.
Spend quality leisure
You cannot expect the bond between you and your stepkids to emerge out of the blue. Neither you can wait for them to respect or listen up to you unless you earn it. Instead, you should invest your efforts and time to succeed. This involves spending qualitative time together.
Prove that you are interested to spend time with them by organising age-appropriate leisure, you are worth trusting by being ready to listen and support, and you are fun to be with by focusing on positive things. If you spend time with your stepchildren efficiently and show your care and support, you will manage to create strong and steady relationships gradually.
Trust the time
Another key principle to apply to any step-parenting tips is not to rush the state of matters. Give yourself time to adjust to your new status, give time and space to your stepkids to overcome the divorce and get ready to accept you in their family, and give time to your partner to trust you more with nurturing their kids. Don’t hurry to become the perfect stepdad. But let the experience, your efforts, and your time help you to love and care about your stepchildren in the best suitable way.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.