Nobody ever said that marrying into a family with children would be easy. Combining too different clans can be a downright pain in the rear, but it ends up being a labor of love in most cases. Regardless of their good intentions, some stepparents still end up making too many mistakes and thus any possible connection that could have been had is lost forever. Sadly, these unsuccessful unions are caused by the same ignorant behaviors being practiced time and time again.
Personally, the relationship I have with my step mother, or lack thereof, is awful. Though I have tried many, many times to make things amicable it seems as though my efforts are all in vain. I will never have her respect because she lost mine almost immediately. The tug of war has caused quite a rift in my family, but it didn’t have to.
Effective stepparents have to be willing to participate in a little give and take; they have to be somewhat accepting, and they should exercise lots of patience. Now that I have the opportunity to play the role of stepparent in my adult life, I can draw from my own experiences as a stepchild in order to be the influence I can.
Forcing the Issue
As a stepparent you might be kind of excited about your new relationship, but you have to realize that not everyone is going to be as thrilled as you are. Thinking that your perspective on any given situation is the only one worth discussing is just about the best way to isolate yourself from your new family. Trying to force the issue of togetherness and respect is the last thing you want to do to children who are going through a transition in their lives. You can’t forget that respect and the want for togetherness are two things that grow with time, and they cannot be made obligatory regardless of the child’s age.
Say this to yourself slowly, “I will never try to replace a child’s biological parent.” Granted the kid might see you as such eventually, especially if the biological parent isn’t really around, but trying to take the place of a child’s rightful parent is a huge mistake that will get you nowhere. At no point should you ever talk negatively about the child’s biological parent, even if it seems like it would be okay at the time. The child might go along with the verbal bashing to make themselves feel better, but later they will grow to resent you for your comments.
Thinking Age is just a Number
When trying to be an effective and respected stepparent you have to take things slowly and have some finesse. Most of all, you need to consider the age of the children involved when you plan your actions. If the kids are young then you should offer guidance and assistance without being too bossy and without obstructing their routine too much. You will need to ask the other parent to back you up at times so that you can teach the child to respect your wishes and feelings, since they will likely only come warm up to you once they feel you out for a bit.
On the other hand, if the child is older you might just need to let yourself become something of a mentor and call it a day. Older children are a bit more set in their ways, and so they will probably have quite a bit more opposition to the new changes being made to their family. You should never offer unsolicited advice, but instead let the child come around to you on his or her own time. Your idea may be the wiser one, but you should try to get the child to believe the right decision was their own idea. Forcing your opinion will only create a wedge between the two of you that may never go away. On behalf of fed up stepchildren everywhere, “Just be cool.”
Forgetting Parents are not Friends
Regardless of the dynamics of the relationship, you shouldn’t ever try to be your stepchild’s friend. Indeed, no parent is supposed to be buddies with their kids and stepparents are no exception to that rule. Do not forget that when you are trying to assimilate into your new family; they will all know if you are trying too hard.
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