Unfortunately, there is no Stepparenting 101 course, most stepparents have to learn from their experience. There are, however, some tips for stepparents that might make this experience a bit easier. Here is our list of stepparenting dos that may help you get along with you stepchildren.
Do discuss your views on parenting with your spouse. Different people have different approaches to parenting. You need to make sure you're on the same page with your spouse before raising children together, especially if you have kids of your own. Discuss punishments and rewards, curfew and bedtimes, chores and allowances. Of course, you won't be able to foresee everything that might come up, but you need to cover at lest the most basic things.
Do have patience. Parenting requires patience, stepparenting requires twice more patience. You won't immediately bond with your stepchildren, they will need time to get used to the changes in their life, open up and start trusting you. Take it slow and make baby steps. Patience is the most important virtue in a blended family.
Do focus on building trust. You probably want your stepchildren to respect you. Remember that before respect comes trust. If they trust you, they will respect you, too. Instead of disciplining them find ways to build a trusting relationship. We aren't saying that discipline is not important, but parenting is not all about discipline.
Do communicate with your stepchildren. Communication is the key to a healthy and trusting relationship. You need to encourage honest communication and always listen to what your stepchildren have to say. Don't dismiss their problems as something insignificant and always keep the secrets they share with you.
Do spend time with your stepchildren. You need to get to know your stepchildren and bond with them, so make sure you do something together, even if it's just grocery shopping or cooking. It is also important to have family bonding time with everyone involved. Bonding activities will bring all members of your blended family closer.
Do encourage them to spend time with their biological parents. You shouldn't compete with their biological parents for affection. Children share a special bond with them, and no matter how much they like you, you will never have the same kind of bond. Kids need to have one-on-one time with their biological parents. Yes, that means your spouse's ex, too. Don't get jealous, you have no right to deprive kids of communication with their mom/dad.
Do have some flexibility. Sometimes your relationship with your stepchildren will develop in an unpredictable way. You need to be able to bend in order not to break. If you don't set your expectations too high, you won't feel frustrated when things don't go as you expected. It's important to be able to go with a flow.
Do look for support. Stepparenting can be hard, but there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. Of course, your spouse has your back, but you can also find support in other places. Numerous websites and forums for stepparents can be found online. You can join a support group or consult with a psychologist if you need to.
- How to Get Along With Your Step Siblings, 7 Tips for Getting Along With Your Stepkids, 8 Don'ts of Stepparenting