If you have recently remarried and now have step-children in the home along with your new spouse, you might be wondering how best to fill the difficult role of step parent. Step parenting is challenging, and it will affect the health of your relationship with your new spouse. Here are some key things you can do to make sure your whole house is more peaceful.
1. Don't take things personally.
The first step to surviving as a step parent is to make sure that you try your best, but that you don't take misbehavior or disrespect as an insult against you. Kids will make mistakes, and it can be easy when you are not in the biological parent position to feel as though kids are doing things just to make your job as a step parent harder. While this can be the case sometimes, most of the time, children do not have ulterior motives for their actions and their motivations are much broader or simpler than making your life miserable.
2. Respect the relationship of the biological parent.
As a step parent, you have the power to create division in the home, especially between the kids and your spouse. Division will only make home life more difficult, so opt to respect and support your spouse's relationship with your husband or wife. Try not to count time or show jealousy toward the time that your spouse spends with their kids. While you may want to always be included, this expectation can end up with kids feeling like you are encroaching on the close relationship they enjoy with the parent, especially in the case of divorce or death.
On the same note, if your spouse has an ex-husband or wife who still has an active presence in the lives of your step kids, try not to be controlling over the relationship the kids have with that parent. While divorces can be messy, kids will still want to have a relationship with both of the biological parents. Barring the cases where the other parent is abusive, unfit, or neglectful, you should encourage or at least refrain from discouraging your new step children in their relationship with the ex-spouse.
3. Have realistic expectations about relationships among family members.
Relationships grow slowly, and it is not fair to kids to expect that they will hit the ground running with relationships with you or with your kids. While you can be optimistic and positive about encouraging friendships between your step kids and yourself or any kids you might have, understand that sibling relationships will not occur immediately. The expectation of traditional interaction between blended family members can be uncomfortable for children and for you and your spouse to bear right away. Allow relationships to grow naturally and handle disputes by accepting and acknowledging that your family dynamic has some challenges.
If you need help, contact a family therapist at a place like Teri Role-Warren.