As many of you know I am not a step-parent, but my husband once was. He was my oldest child’s step-dad for the first year of our marriage. Q1’s birth father was unable to fulfill his role due to various life circumstances so my husband was given the option to adopt Q1. He jumped at the opportunity and the adoption was finalized right around the date of our first anniversary.
Not every step-parent has the option to adopt because the birth parents are still very active in their children’s lives. This situation can run smoothly, but it can also get pretty sticky. I have invited LeeAnn from Sweets-n-Snarks to share her advice to step-parents who are struggling to find their balance.
6 Keys to Successful Step-Parenting
Everyone knows parenting is challenging. Step-parenting poses its own trials and tribulations. Defining boundaries is crucial to keep the family unit harmonious. Whether you are actively involved in the daily life of the stepchild(ren) or primarily involved during visitation, effective step-parenting consists of a balance. Between looking out for the best interest of the child(ren), it is important to be mindful of not overstepping your role. While I do not have children of my own, I have two adult stepchildren and one teenage stepdaughter. It wasn’t always smooth sailing. Hiccups will come and go, but I have respect for the bond between all of my stepchildren and their father. They were there long before me and of his flesh and blood.
1. Defining Your Role
I once told my teenage stepdaughter that I look at our relationship like that of a caring, involved aunt. My role has been of guiding, teaching, and facilitating the relationship between her and her father. Does what I say matter? Of course, it does, but only so much in setting rules in the household, alongside my husband. Also, if my husband is working through how to handle a given situation concerning the child, I will offer my opinion. I respect that it is just that – an opinion. An informed opinion. Your spouse needs to make the decision for what is in the best interest of the child(ren).
2. Get Involved
Making time to do activities with your stepchild(ren) is a fun way to make memories with your stepchild(ren). We all need a break from the mundane. Find a mutually agreeable activity and make the best of it! My minor-aged stepdaughter and I have enjoyed spending time together whether swimming, crafting, window shopping and watching movies. The activities have been great ways for us to bond and further get to know one another. It’s pleasantly surprising the fun and laughter you can share by doing an activity together.
3. Avoid Prying
Time with your stepchild(ren) is NOT a fishing expedition. If there is something she has on her mind and wishes to share with me, I will listen and offer my best advice. However, it is not the time nor my place, to pry into her life when she is with her mother. Sure, if there is a school activity or trip, that is one thing. Questioning a child about motives is not the role of a step-parent.
Undoubtedly there will be situations that test your resolve when step-parenting. It is easy to feel like your hands are tied behind your back, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not worth getting worked up over. Let it go! Remember this too shall pass. Overreacting will only drive a wedge in your relationship not only with the child but potentially with your spouse as well.
5. Patience Is Still A Virtue
It’s going to take time. From introducing yourself into the mix to forging a relationship with your stepchild, it takes time to build trust and a connection. Mistakes will undoubtedly be made. Recognize it, apologize to the child(ren), spouse, and yourself, carry on. If you are willing to admit and talk about your mistakes it will show tolerance and encourage forgiveness.
6. Talk With The Child(ren)
Talking to someone vs. talking to can make a world of difference. We all want to feel we are being heard. Give the floor to the child(ren) to voice their questions and concerns. If the child(ren) know you will be receptive to their thoughts and feelings, they will feel at ease and it will foster your relationship. There is no quick fix to becoming an effective step-parent. Do what you feel is right in your gut. Trust that in time things will work out if you approach the role with love, openness, and respect for the family unit as a whole.
My name is LeAnn. I am a Midwest native turned desert dweller, iced latte lover, a virtual assistant, and freelance writer. I have a sweet side and a bit of a snarky side (don’t we all?!), hence the name of my blog, Sweetsnsnarks. My blog helps motivate and promote boss babes reach their dreams. I provide tips for creatives, bloggers, and entrepreneurs as well as feature them on my blog and I share stories about intentional living through life experiences. Here’s the link to my blog: https://sweetsnsnarks.wordpress.com/