Step parenting can be gruelling, at its best. Before you find what works best for everyone involved, you will be pretty much be walking on eggshells the whole time. The moment you accept your spouse, you accept the complexities that come with step parenting. Nevertheless, step parenting has worked for so many people. It needs an open mind, compromise and lots of patience, but it works.
Here are a few simple rules to get you on your way.
Thou shall not force the kids to call you mum or dad
Quick correction… do not even expect to be called mum or dad. Remember those are names they reserved for their real parents. They have to get used to the new family dynamics before they decide whether to call you these names or not. If they do, that’s okay, if they don’t, well, it is what it is. Think about it, if someone was to waltz into your life and expect you to call them dad or mum, would you be enthusiastic about it? You would definitely have an issue with that. Same applies to your step children, never force that title from them.
Thou should expect to be resented
They probably feel you are the reason their parents are not together and may end up hating you for it. They also feel insecure that you will be taking their parent’s love and attention away from them. Plus they will still be dealing with the absence of one their parents, whether it’s through divorce or death. Once you understand where they are coming from, you will be able to deal the children with patience.
Thou shall not engage the ex-spouse directly
At least not until you guys are in a place of understanding and have established a proper middle ground . Let things that involve the ex-spouse be dealt with by your spouse. Otherwise there are likely to be conflicts and misunderstandings.
Thou shall respect the ex-spouse’s rules concerning their children
If they say their children goes to a certain school, don’t come in and try to change schools for those children. If they say the children can’t have phones, don’t try to be the cool mum or dad and buy the kids phones. Remember, an ex-spouse is not an ex-parent. They have a say in their children’s lives forever, and nothing can ever change that.
Thou shall not talk negatively about the ex-spouse in front of their children
This is the fastest way to make the kids resent you. Regardless of what the said parent did, it is not in your place to make bad comments about them in front of their kids. That is still their parent and they still have feelings for them. You are trying to make the new arrangement work; not create a war zone.
Props to all step parents trying to make it work.