You have probably heard at one time or another from other people just how difficult it is to be a parent. But, it is certainly harder to become a stepfather or stepmother.
If you are about to marry someone who has a child or children, there may be conflicts as a result of your stepping into the shoes of a Mom and Dad they love. Many kids become resentful when their parents get a divorce and their Mom and/or Dad marry someone else. There is an even greater pain when their parents marry after a mother or father has passed away. Most children find it difficult to accept a new parent into their lives, especially if the one they had lost is someone whom they loved deeply. If you are going to be a stepmom or stepdad, you need to take the feelings of the child into serious consideration.
Here are some tips which can help you become a good stepparent…
- Never pretend to be someone you’re not. A big mistake you can make is to try to be like the Mom or Dad who’s gone. This will only irritate the child. Remember that you cannot be a replacement for the parent they had lost, but you can be a brand new Mom or Dad for them.
- Get to know the child prior to marrying your partner. It is not advisable to rush into a marriage with a partner who has a child/children. Take the opportunity to meet his/her children. As you ask about themselves and their interests, let them ask questions about you as well. Be prepared for some rude remarks and outright hostility. Instead of answering hotly, be very kind and polite and say that you they would give you a chance.
- Never harbor expectations in the beginning. Some stepmoms and stepdads make the mistake in expecting that the child will warm up to them immediately. On the contrary, you should expect acts of disobedience and refusal to heed your advice. In some cases, these acts are intended to test you, to see how you’ll react and what you’ll do. Always be nice and polite toward the child, and show that you sincerely care about him/her.
- Avoid complaining too much. Right from the start, problems with relating to the children need to be expected. You should never complain about these problems constantly to your partner and relatives (such as the kids’ grandparents). Ignore acts of mischief. For more serious problems, you should resolve all conflicts diplomatically. This does not mean, however, that you will tolerate misbehaviors from the child. If the child did a bad thing, be honest with him/her and tell him so. State clearly that his/her behavior upsets you and that you never expected such actions to be done by a boy/girl whom you’ve heard is well-mannered and behaved. If, despite all efforts to resolve conflict, the child refuses to cooperate, only then should you bring the matter up to your spouse.
- Take an active interest in the child. Make it a point to go to sports events or school activities where the child is participating in. Don’t take the initiative by introducing yourself to his/her friends especially if there is still friction between you. Let him/her be the one to introduce you. Also, don’t be intrusive. He/she will include you in his/her social life if he/she already accepts you.
- Never implement major changes during the first few years of your marriage. If there is anything that kids hate is to have their stepmoms and stepdads making sudden changes to their homes or daily routines. For them, these changes mean that you are removing all traces of the parent they had lost. Do not change the interiors of the home for a year or two. When you want to make changes, make sure that you involve the child in the discussions and decision-making.
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