Being a step parent can be rewarding, yet you may have to overcome multiple barriers before living the fairytale happily ever. You are helping to raise children who may not see you as an equal parent and whilst they are working out their new dynamic it can take its toll on you and your relationship.
Understanding step parent boundaries is key for a harmonious life. Being a step parent you have entered the world of a child who may be confused, angry, or frustrated. But there are things that a step parent should never do such as bad mouthing the other parent, try to replace the other parent, or take the lead in the discipline.
How To Be A Step Parent?
Your role as a step parent needs to be treated with care. Learning how to deal with step kids isn’t as easy as you may first think. As a step parent you are joining a ready made family. The children in your partner’s life may enjoy your company at first. Then as you start to make an imprint on family life struggles can arise that could make or break your relationship.
There are things a step-parent should never do but, you are now a part of a new family unit so let us help you make sense of your new role.
Step Parent Struggles
Parenting is no walk in the park. You are helping to mold young people into well rounded individuals. But being a step parent is often harder than parenting your own children.
Stepping up in an absent parent’s shoes or being introduced as a new partner can bring uncertainty and fear into their children’s life. Children at any age are complex and when young, they don’t have the emotional maturity to accept such a huge change. It’s important to recognize how fragile the family unit will be as you enter ‘their’ world.
It is not to be overlooked that step parenting can also be daunting for you as well as the children. No one can explain exactly how your new life will play out even though there are many books on stepparenting there is no true manual on how to become the best figure in your stepchildren’s lives.
To give you a helping hand here are some typical step parenting pitfalls to look out for in the roller coaster ride of your new role.
You and your partner have connected on a level where he/she feels you are the best person to have in her children’s lives. Like it or not your partner has a past. An ex who may still be very present in both of your lives.
You may agree to disagree on many things your partner’s ex has done or is doing yet a huge no go in the world of step parenting is to voice these feelings in front of the children. No matter what actions get you ruffled, always be seen to talk about them in a respectful manner. This will help show the children that all the adults in their lives stand as a unit.
Should Step Parents Discipline?
Discipline needs to be a topic that should be discussed. You can’t rock in with a list of rules and expect to be welcomed with open arms. Parents should be the first disciplinarians and with your support, you can guide from their lead.
Your main goal is to support your partner especially as the bad behavior could stem from the change of having a step parent.
You Are Not a Replacement
At no point should you ever act or feel as if you are replacing the position of mom or dad. A child’s bubble is small, made up of two parents and/or siblings. Adding yourself into their bubble needs to be treated with respect.
A stepparent overstepping boundaries and trying to replace a parent will only alienate children further and could create a mountain of issues in your relationship.
Being Realistic Yet Reasonable
Entering into a world of step parenting is huge. Just because you are in a relationship with someone who has children doesn’t mean you are owed automatic respect.
Understanding the change in family dynamic takes time for everyone. Patience is key and expect boundaries to be pushed. Reasoning with children’s emotional needs is important yet you should still be viewed as a respected adult within the house.
Blended families can work in a harmonious way if everyone is treated equally. If one child in particular is taking some time to adjust then it’s important to recognize their struggles without favoritism.
Treating your own biological children differently to your own can also cause issues with trust and security.
Rush the Process
Jumping two feet into the ‘love me like I love you’ game will never work if your step children are taking their time to adjust. Their new norm may be overwhelming and rushing them too fast too soon can damage your relationship. Trust in the process and they will come around to you being in their lives.
Tolerate Rude Behavior
Family life holds many roles, you have the rule maker and the confidante. As you tiptoe into your step children’s lives you may feel it necessary to overlook rude or ill mannered behavior if directed toward you.
You don’t want to upset them, putting your foot down could cause chaos with what you have already built. The truth is if you start turning a blind eye then they won’t see you as an equal to their parents. Children like and need boundaries, knowing how far to push is exactly what they need from you.
What to do When a Step Parent Hates The Stepchild
Being a step parent gives you the chance to see a family environment from the outside whilst being within. You are not their mom yet you complete the routines of cooking, cleaning, bathing, and clothing. You are not dad yet you fix their toys, help them with their bike, and engage in their hobbies. Feeling resentment isn’t a sign of a bad stepfather but just that you may need to consider your feelings in all the hostility.
After helping to meet your stepchildren’s needs and striving to build a bond you may still be faced with a big fat emotional wall that you haven’t even dented.
When a step-parent hates the stepchild it is usually more resentment. This isn’t something to take lightly. Your emotional well being is also taking a beating. The feeling of rejection from the children of the person you love hurts. If you are feeling pangs of resentment, communication is key.
Talk it out, first with your partner and ensure everyone is happy, make a plan to restore building blocks within your relationship with your stepchildren.
Sometimes it’s the situation that you hate which can reflect on the people present.
Struggling with step-parenting
There is no one rule that fits all in the life of a step parent. Everyone will face hardships from time to time and no one or anything can dictate how you will feel or react when the situation arises.
We have given you a list of what you shouldn’t do as a step parent and guided you on the course of living as a bonus dad/mom for your stepchildren.
There are a multitude of authors who have written books for step parents so picking a few notes from a respected title could give you a few ideas of where to start building better relationships.
Here are a few popular books on being a step parent.
Ron L. Deal
Books on step parenting can help but be sure that there is no playbook that works for everyone. Children aren’t programmed and no one can tell you how they are feeling but themselves. Just trust you are doing your best.
Step Parent Advice
Above all, if you take any reassurance from this article, know that looking up things a step parent should never do already means that you are willing to put your best foot forward.
Stepping into a child’s life can be disturbing for them. What they once knew and lived for years has altered and so you should expect their behavior to mirror their emotions even if it seems unruly for now it won’t be forever.
Patience and support make a good road for everyone in a blended family. There are new responsibilities and rules for everyone involved so be kind to yourself. You are not a toxic step parent, you are learning just as much as your step children.