When you become a step-parent, you normally end up wondering whether to begin acting as a parent right from the start or go for the wait-and-see approach. Well, there is no one right way to being a step-parent and your desired approach might just yield.
With time, you will find a way of step-parenting that will suit you and your family. Before then, here are some rules to help you wade the rough waters of step-parenting:
1. Never impose yourself on the kids, demand to be called mum or dad
Mum and dad are tags reserved for real parenting. That’s the bitter truth. You just entered their lives, they need to feel comfortable with you and the new family created by your arrival. It is up to the kids to decide when and whether to start calling you mum or dad. If it works for you, they will, and if they don’t, well, that’s just it. Let them take their time even if it never comes completely.
The easiest way to go through it is to have no expectation to be called mum or dad.
2. Expect resentment
Your step-children are likely to blame you for their parents’ separation. If you are settling with a single-parent, the kids will probably feel insecure that you are coming in to rival them for their only parent’s love and attention. You need to understand the children. Get to know how they have been dealing with the absence of one of their parents. This way, you will likely develop adequate patience to handle them.
3. The ex-spouse is out of bounds
You must never engage the ex-spouse directly, at least until you guys have developed some proper middle ground. Let things that involve the ex-spouse to be dealt with by your spouse. This is the surest way to ensure you don’t end up in conflicts and misunderstandings from now and then.
4. Respect the ex-spouse’s parenting
An ex-spouse is not an ex-parent. You must respect their rules and decisions concerning their children. This is not the place to be a cool mum or dad by helping the kids go against the rigid rules set by their parent(s). You must accept that the ex-spouses have a say in their children’s lives and that will never change.
5. No negative talks about the ex-spouse in front of the children
You don’t want to be resented by the kids. Keep off negative talks about their said parent regardless of what they did. He or she is, and will always be, a parent to the kids and they have feelings for them. You have to respect that.
You must strive to do whatever it takes to ensure you don’t create any rift between you and the kids. That’s the guaranteed way to make it work.