It's a complex job, but this mum has some great advice.
We are no longer living in a world where the typical family resides and now more than ever families are changing due to a number of reasons. One of the issues is parents are separating from their child’s partner and in time moving on and meeting another person who they wish to spend the rest of their lives with. Suddenly a child is faced with having three parents instead of two and might be confused and upset though if handled well it can be a less traumatic experience for the kiddie in question. Here are a few tips I've learned being a step parent and things you should never do or say to your step child or it may cause a bit of conflict and being the adult you have to take the bull by the horns and be the step parent they need and deserve.
- Never ever put down their Mam or Dad, as this will only cause your step child to disrespect you and it won’t help the two of you bond. You may not agree with your partners parenting skills or those of his/her ex-partners but it isn’t for you to suddenly throw your weight around and demean them to the little one.
- Don’t ever demand respect, earn it! Your step kids are never going to respect you if you shout at them demanding that they respect you and do as they are told. They are only kids and will test the boundaries and try to push you as far as they can, but it is for you to earn their respect.
- Just be yourself, and don’t try to be cool or interested in something that the kids like. It really doesn’t matter if you don’t like going trekking and the kids and your partner love it, this is when you can find new things you enjoy altogether. They may have their own traditions and you may feel left out but look to create new ones with the family but still respect their old traditions whether they involve you or not.
- Love their Mam or their Dad and be a loving couple as the kids need to be reminded that you are in love and are happy. Watching their parent happy will help them realise that their parent’s separation was difficult for them all but now everyone has moved on and are more content in life as a result of the break up. Rather than proclaim to love your step kids straight away, be honest with yourself and tell your partner you and the kids are getting to know each other and it is going to take time to love them like your partner does.
- Be a good step parent and make every effort to get along with your partners ex as let’s be honest you will have to be in regular contact with them and isn’t it better to get along? The kids should be everyone’s priority and they would be happier if all their parents can be in a room together without feeling like they are walking on egg shells.
Step parenting takes time, you have to get to know the kids, fall in love with them and put up with some criticism along the way but if you are truly in love with their parent it will be worth every single second.
Written by an Irish step parent who wishes to remain anonymous.