Being a stepparent can be fulfilling, enriching, and rewarding … but it can be stressful, frustrating, and depressing as well. Particularly in the beginning of your new role as a stepparent, your emotions will probably feel like they are bouncing all over the place. Not only are you building a new life with the person you fell in love with and married but you are also expected to fill a role beyond that of spouse, and that can be very intimidating.
The step-parenting role differs from family to family. In some cases, you will see the stepchildren very rarely (every other weekend a month and a couple weeks during the summer). In other cases, the stepchildren may live with you all the time. In either case (and all of those cases in between), adjusting to your new role can be a difficult process.
Hopefully, before you married, you and your partner spent a great deal of time talking about each other’s expectations and ideals. Hopefully, you had plenty of time to get to know your new stepchildren and they had time to adjust to the idea of your arrival into the midst of their family. Whether you had a long time to prepare or the situation was thrust upon you, there are things you can do to make the process easier for everyone.
•Understand that everyone’s emotions, not just yours, are probably off-kilter as a result of the new family unit. Be patient.
•Don’t expect everything to go well from the beginning; allow everyone space and time to get to know each other and learn each other’s quirks.
•Talk with your spouse about setting down certain ground rules right away. It’s important to establish an expectation of respect immediately. Your stepchildren can have time to adjust, but that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to be disrespectful, mean, or vicious.
•Address issues immediately. Talk with the children – don’t preach to them – about your desire to build a successful blended family. Address and acknowledge their concerns and their feelings.
•As the stepparent, you are often the “new” person, the variable who changes everything. It can be unsettling, and often your own insecurities can be the cause of some of the early struggles. Talk about your feelings with your spouse and let them know when you are having difficulties. Be sure to take time alone together to build your marriage; don’t spend all of your energy on the kids.
Take it one day at a time. You and your stepchildren will get to know each other better. Day by day, your role as a stepparent will become more defined and comfortable.
Have you read Shadra’ s book, Stories From a StepMom, available on Amazon Kindle? Read more or request a review copy.