How to handle the responsibility of becoming a step-parent

Any stepmother or stepfather will tell you that taking on step-children can be tough - but it can be extremely rewarding too. Here's a few tips on how to handle the responsibility…


by Kayleigh Dray |
Published on

When you marry someone with kids, everyone talks about the built-in family; a collection of little cherubs, waiting for you to step up and become their new role model.

What they don't mention, though, is the fact that it comes with an array of challenges. Chances are that the road to having good, positive, happy relationships with your step-children will be paved with a few minefields - especially thanks to all those negative 'stepmother' examples in Disney films.

So how do you avoid falling into "evil stepmother / stepfather" role? By taking your time, relaxing into the role and being open and honest.

Sara Davison, a leading life, relationship and separation coach, explains: "Times are changing and with divorce on the rise it's to be expected that your next partner may have children from a previous relationship.

"Taking on that step parent role can be daunting, especially if you don't have any children of your own. There are a few simple things to remember that will help you deal with it."

Top tips for step-parents

  1. You are not replacing their other parent so don't try to.

  2. Don't try too hard to make them like you. Let them know you are there if they need you and be friendly and welcoming.

  3. Don't get disheartened if the children appear disinterested or as if they don't like you. It can take time with children. Always do the right thing and they will come to you when they are ready.

  4. Give them quality time with your partner. If they are spending time with you both remember that they may need some alone time with them too.

  5. Just because your partner doesn't get on with their ex doesn't mean you should bad mouth them too. Stay positive or at least neutral about them in front of the children.

  6. Remember it's important for your partner to have a good relationship with their kids. Be flexible and don't take it personally if your plans get changed last minute due to the children.

  7. The love a parent has for a child is different from the love they will have for you. Don't get jealous or angry when your partner is loving with them. It doesn't mean they love you any less.

Communication is key to becoming a good step-parent
Communication is key to becoming a good step-parent

She adds: "With time step parenting becomes easier and you will develop a routine that works for you all. Talk things through with your partner and work together as a team."

The biological parent and the step-parent should sit down and enjoy an open, candid discussion about the future. Each should know what the other expects concerning the stepparent's involvement in guiding, supervising and disciplining the children.

Once you understand what each other's expectations are, you have a place to start shaping what the stepparent role will be.

Sara Davison is a leading life, relationship and separation coach in the UK, and has created a unique programme to support individuals with the tools, techniques and advice needed to journey through relationship difficulties, separation and divorce.

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