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Stepparenting – Tips On How To Make It Work

Stepparenting5Stepparents, especially stepmothers have been given a bad rap. Just think about Cinderella’s evil stepmother who worked her like a slave and forced her to sleep in the kitchen. Stepmothers are very often portrayed as being nasty and evil women who despise their stepchildren and will do all in their power to make their lives miserable.

Obviously few stepmothers are as hateful and vengeful as poor old Cinderella’s one, but being a good stepparent requires persistence, devotion, hard work and the ability to bite one’s tongue.

If you have stepchildren, you may find it very challenging at times – remember that this is normal and stepparenting is often a lot more difficult and challenging than parenting your own biological children. With little assistance and much perseverance, however, it won’t be long before you overcome or work though the challenges and become a happy and content family.


Tips on making it work

  • Don’t expect immediate love and an instant bond.

Stepchildren (dependant on their age) are wary of stepparents. It is natural. If the child’s parents are divorced they may feel that you, as a stepmother or father, are going to try take over the role and -do away’ with their parent. Although stepparents should not expect an instant bond to be formed, this is by no means a free pass for stepchildren to treat stepparents without respect. Treat children with respect and try to let them follow by example. It will also not help matters if stepparents run down or make negative comments about the child’s biological siblings or parents – this will immediately cause the child to act defensively. No matter what you feel or think about your spouse’s ex, it’s better to keep it to yourself as your views or feelings have little or nothing to do with the kids.

  • Discipline

Like all other children, stepchildren need guidance and discipline. It’s essential that you and your spouse agree on rules for the home and it’s often better to allow the biological parent to take the lead when it comes to disciplining. Older children are inclined not to take their stepparents seriously at first and the stepmom or dad will require the unwavering backing and support of the biological parent in the home. Rather than disciplining stepchildren as a parent, it may be best to assume the position of the -in charge adult’.

  • -You are NOT my parent

Trying to care for stepchildren is extremely difficult and often no matter how fair or how supportive you are, children who are hurt by the divorce or separation of their own parents, may use words like weapons. You need to make it clear to children that you have no intention of replacing their mom or dad and you’re not trying to take on the role but you also need to stick to your guns and make it plainly clear that your rules are your rules and you are the adult in charge.

  • Stand united!

One the most important things that parents can do (more so for stepparents) is to form a united front. If problems arise with the children, the children must see and accept that their parents are united. Creating a united front for children to see will help them to realise that they will not be able to play one parent up against the other. If you disagree with the way in which your spouse has handled a particular situation, do not voice your concerns in front of children instead try to discuss the situation where the children are not present. When children are watching, it’s imperative that parents form a united, impenetrable wall.

  • Get to know each other!

There seems to be a worldwide stigma attached to the poor old stepmom and fairytales and modern movies always show step-relationships as being strained. There is no reason why stepparents cannot have great a relationship with their stepchildren and even though they will never be related by blood, they are still able to love and appreciate each other. The best thing to do is to get to know each other on a personal  level and if there is more than one stepchild, step parents should take the time out to get to know each child by spending one-on-one time with each. You don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary, spending quality time together could be as simple as taking the child to school, going shopping together, etc. When the word -step’ is dropped and the child and the parent sees each other as being regular people with feelings, etc. they may realise that they have a lot in common.

  • Avoid rivalry!

One of the most difficult challenges faced by stepparents is not showing favouritism. It’s perfectly normal to love your biological children more, however showing your feelings and making your stepchildren feel as though they are second best is wrong. On weekends when stepchildren visit their biological mom or dad, don’t brag about the awesome time you have had with your own child or children, or what they missed out on. It’s also vitally important to treat all children the same – treat stepchildren in the same way that you would treat your own children.

  • Work on your marriage!

Marriage is hard enough but when stepchildren are added to the mix, the pressure increases. One of the most delicate relationships is a second or third marriage and as such, you need to put extra work and more effort to make sure that your new marriage is rock solid and able to stand up to all the knocks and adversities faced. Take time out to get to know each other and enjoy activities that newly marriage couples enjoy.

  • Be positive!

There will be days when stepparents feel as though they are making no headway and they feel as though all their efforts have been in vain. Again, this is natural but when it comes to parenting stepchildren, stepparents must always have a positive attitude and set a positive example for the kids. When kids spot weakness, they will quickly zone in on it but if you show you are motivated and determined to make it work, your positive attitude may have a positive impact on them. Try to forgive quickly and leave grudges behind.


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