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What is Nacho Parenting?

By Emma Davies


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You might be asking yourself ‘What’s nacho parenting?’ Well, you’ll be happy to know that we all thought the same thing when we first heard about it.

What is Nacho Parenting?

Nacho parenting is usually practiced by blended families or families where a step parent is present and just means that the biological parent is the ‘main parent’. The biological parent is in charge of disciplining and looking after their child while the step parent isn’t overly present in their life.

The nacho method is supposed to help reduce stress for your kiddo because there are fewer adults with different standards and rules who have a say in their life. This is especially true if both biological parents are present and both have new partners – imagine trying to keep four different people happy all at once.

Nacho Parenting Method Examples

Now, nacho parenting doesn’t mean that step parents should ignore stepchildren but it does mean that they need to take a step back so that the biological parents can parent how they want to. Let’s take a look at some things that are considered nacho parenting.

  • Get to know your step children – Just because your family has decided that nacho parenting is the best for them, doesn’t mean you can’t get to know your kids. You’re probably going to be in their lives for a long time and it’s going to make everything harder if you all feel like you’re living with strangers. Get to know the big things about them like their friends and interests but also try and pick up on some of the smaller things like their favorite foods or tv shows. You’ll be surprised how much easier it’ll be to bond with them if you pay attention to the little things. Just let them know you care and that you’re there for them if they need you.
  • Leave discipline to the biological parents – The main focus of nacho parenting is letting bio parents be in charge. Having a new person in your life is always going to be a little difficult to begin with so it’s your job to not make it any more difficult for the kids than it already is – remember that they haven’t chosen to have a step parent. The biological parents have always been the ones disciplining their child so try not to change that too much.
  • Avoid setting rules – Allowing your partner to do the disciplining also means they set the rules. Biological and step parents often have different expectations for the kids involved but bio parents know what works for their little ones. If the kids are a little older then there have probably been many years of trial and error to find out what works for the family, it’s not your job as a step parent to change that.
  • Redirect to the biological parent – If your stepkids do something in front of you and you aren’t sure how to react because you’re trying out nacho parenting then the best thing to do is ask your partner. You don’t need to react to the situation straight away unless someone is in danger so talk to your partner and they can decide what the best course of action is. This is why it’s important not to ignore your children even if you are a nacho parent because you could pick up on things that your partner hasn’t seen.
  • Be open to change – Kids grow up and your family will change so you need to be open to the amount of input you have changing. Maybe your partner needs a second opinion when their kids become teenagers because let’s be honest, teenagers can be difficult. But also if you and your partner have kids together then maybe nacho parenting will have to change so that you can do what’s best for all of your kids.
  • Get professional help – One of the best things you can do if this is going to be a big change or your family is getting professional help. People tend to think family therapy is something that dysfunctional families that can’t cope get but it’s just another tool that’s available to make your family the best it can be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Effects of Nacho Parenting

There are so many pros and cons to nacho parenting because it’s quite a new concept. You might not have even considered some of these which is why we’ve popped them into a handy little list for you – let’s jump into some of the benefits.

  • Prioritizing the relationship between kids and bio parents – If a step parent is being introduced to a family then it usually means a divorce or breakup is happening which can be very traumatic for children. Their parents are all of a sudden not living together and there are new people in their lives which can make them feel out of place. If the step parent allows the bio parent to discipline and parent as they did before then this will help keep some stability in the child’s life and will help them understand that their parents are always going to be there.
  • Reduces family stress – As we’ve said, this can be a very stressful and difficult time for kids because it might seem like it’s come out of nowhere. You don’t want to add to that stress so by mostly staying on the sidelines, you won’t disrupt the family dynamic that is already changing very quickly. There is also lots of research on Adverse Childhood Experiences that can cause so many different health problems later on in life and divorce is one of these. You want to be a good addition to the family so don’t try to change things too much.
  • Improvements in your marriage and relationships – A massive problem in new relationships is the stress of trying to navigate a blended family. If you don’t have kids but your new partner does then it can be really challenging trying to work out a new relationship whilst also making sure you aren’t stepping on anyone’s toes. You’ll probably find that everything will go a lot smoother if you allow the bio parents to be in charge because the usual disagreements around parenting won’t happen.
  • Improvements in co parenting – Co parenting can be hard enough without having to deal with the input of two step parents as well. If you’re using the nacho parenting method then both bio parents can parent together like they always did and you can be there for extra support. You might not agree with everything and the chances of you disliking the ex partner are probably very high but remember this isn’t about you. You want to do what’s best for your new partner and their kids and trust us, making co parenting even a little easier will make such a big difference.
  • Step parents can still be themselves – If you’re becoming a step parent but don’t have any kids of your own then you’re probably terrified but there’s no need to worry. Nacho parenting allows new step parents to be themselves whilst still being present in their new partner’s life. It’s going to suck if you set one rule and your partner changes it so save yourself the hassle and let them crack on.

As you can see, there are so many benefits to this type of parenting but there are also a few downsides to it.

  • It’s very demanding – So you might have realized by now that this parenting is time consuming because the bio parent is basically raising their child on their own. It’s super important that the parent is available when their child needs them or if you need to redirect something which can be tricky with work and other things.
  • Can create a divide in the family – This is probably one of the most obvious issues with this parenting. If step parents aren’t really engaging in parenting then they might not be able to connect with their step kids as easily which can make it feel like you’re an outsider in your new family.
  • Personal boundaries – We’ve spoken about the fact that the kids’ lives are changing but this is also a massive change for step parents. You might have gone from being single and living on your own to all of a sudden being a massive part of a child’s life. This can be really scary and if you aren’t allowed to set boundaries or tell your step children they need to stop doing something then this can be really unhealthy. A lack of boundaries can cause an even bigger divide in the family which no one wants.

Can I be a Nacho Parent?

So, do you think you can be a nacho parent? It might take some getting used to and if it’s not right for your family then there are plenty of other things you can try. All you can do is give it a try – what’s the worst that can happen?

About Emma Davies

Emma Davies is a freelance writer that specializes parenting and animal topics. With over 20 years experience as a parent there are very few topics that faze her.

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