Parenting is difficult enough, but step-parenting is parenting with its own set of circumstances. To be an effective step-parent, one has to understand his or her new role in creating and blending this new family dynamic.
Listed below are some suggestions for helping step parents to “parent” their stepchildren.
- Clarify your role as a parent. Discuss with your spouse your role with your new stepchildren. If possible, discuss your role with your spouse’s ex; but try to keep the lines of communication open.
- Effective parenting, and especially step-parenting, does not take place over night. Be prepared for a period of adjustment for all members of the new blended family.
- Children are people too. They are each individuals with their own likes and dislikes. Respect each for his or her individuality, and bonding will become easier.
- Create new family traditions. When combining families, the traditions of the former families may not blend with the new family, so create new ones that will bring the family members together as a unit and will become your own family history.
- Don’t say anything negative about your spouse’s ex. Even if the other biological parent is not a good parent, stay neutral and continue to offer the child support.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff nor become the “mean” parent in the family. If discipline is necessary, work with your spouse together when doling out punishment.
- Have family meetings. If the children are old enough, meet as a group regularly to discuss problems and other issues. Open communication can go a long way in solving problems or preventing new ones.
Remember, “The Brady Bunch” was a TV show. It was fictional, not factual. Combining families in to one new one will not take place as soon as the parents say “I do.” It will take time, creativity, and whole lot of patience!