Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Step parenting, however, is a notch harder. A step family is commonly formed due to the death of a spouse or a failed marriage that ended up in divorce. Deaths and divorces are traumatic events not just for children but also for the parents themselves. Children may still be recuperating or grieving for their loss. Most children dream that their step family would be the same as their original one. They have expectations which a step parent might find hard to fulfill.
The main duty of a step parent is to redefine what a family is and to develop new relationships. Step parenting requires step parents to make their step children understand that a new identity and a better bond can be formed by integrating the different interests and hobbies of each step family member. It is unrealistic to expect instant love or attachment from step children but it is necessary to ask for respect as a step parent. You can do so by first showing the children respect-leading by example. Avoid any derogatory comments about their biological parents or their siblings. In disciplining the children, let their biological parent-your spouse-lead the way, especially with the older children.
For situations when the children rebel and adopt the you-are-not-my-parent tactic in order to avoid following you, try to be more patient but always be firm and clear. Be confident and say that your intention is not to replace their lost parent. If your spouse is not available to discipline your kids, you may tell them that you are the only adult at the moment and that you have the responsibility to uphold the rules of the house. Also, make sure that you and your spouse always show that you are united whenever in front of your step family.
When your kids are not around, you and your spouse can talk about the differences of the original and the present family. If you have your own kids and they live together with your spouse’s own kids, it is necessary to apply the same rules to all of them. Try to spend as much time alone with your step children to strengthen your relationship. Both biological and step children have the tendency to seek for your exclusive attention. Make time for all of them and try to spend as much time with all of them together. When having special talks with your biological kids, keep your voice down so that your step kids may not overhear you and think that they are less favored.
Always remember to have a positive attitude. Avoid sarcasm or criticism when communicating with your step children. This may help cement an everlasting good relationship with them. If your kids live in separate households, you and your spouse may have to visit them together to show that both of you support each one of them. Try keeping your schedule open for them even if it is inconvenient for you. If you see the children need both of you, always take the opportunity to be there and help out. This could earn their trust and their love. Also, never forget to keep your marriage in good status. Set some time aside so that you and your spouse can have your own time together.