Parenting is never easy, but when you have a blended family – with biological kids, step-kids, ex’s, and other family thrown into the mix – it can get a lot more complicated. Finding the right balance as a step-parent can be extremely difficult, and trying to force a relationship is not going to work out well.
It is important to realize that when you create a step-family everyone’s roles are going to do some shifting. In fact, when you begin to bring everyone together for the first time, the kids are going to try to figure out where, or even if, they belong in this new system that you’re creating. If they feel that they don’t, or that their spot has been taken, then they are apt to act out. Below are a few tricks of the trade that will help you successfully blend your new family with as little stress and anxiety as possible.
Defer to the Biological Parent
If you’re surprised you shouldn’t be. As a step-parent it is important that you realize that this new relationship is going to need time to develop. You can’t come into this new family and expect to have the control and respect that you do with your biological children. As a step-parent it is important to defer to the bio-parent, especially at the beginning. You’re the good cop; let your spouse be the bad the cop. If something occurs that requires a consequence for your step-child, let your spouse deal with it and you support their decision.
Don’t turn it Into a Competition
This is important, because the kids are always watching. Do not compete with your counterpart. Do not try to be a better mom and your step-kids’ biological mom. It doesn’t matter what your feelings are towards their parenting or discipline style, it is important to respect and acknowledge the strength of the connection your step-child has with their biological parents.
Discover Your Step-Child’s Interests
Focus on building a relationship with your step-child or step-children. Discover the things that they like and then do things together that you may both enjoy. This will go a long way towards building a relationship with them. Act like a friend, or a friendly aunt or uncle, don’t try to jump into the parenting role, choose another role in order to foster your relationship.
Take a Step Back
Don’t let yourself forget that before you came along they were a little family all by themselves. Make sure that you still give your spouse and their children some alone time together. Send them off to do things that they enjoyed doing together before you came into the picture. This will help to reduce the displacement and loss the child may be feeling, and assures her that she hasn’t been replaced by someone else.
Step-parenting isn’t for the weak, but for those willing to take on the challenge the rewards are exponential. Make sure that you allow time for all of you to adjust – this is a new big leap that you’re taking, and while you are all taking it together it is okay to need some time to adjust on your own as well.