The Challenges of Being a Step-parent

It's not easy being a step parent.  You have no power, little authority and a lot of grudges.  Some of them are even yours.  At first you simply try to get to know the kids, learn their likes and dislikes.  You are always in the shadow of the ex-parent and are more than likely being monitored by same.

So how do you handle all the stresses?   Your kids melding with the step kids, ex-parent's jealousy or plain and simple dislike or disapproval,  new rules vs old rules,  new routines vs old routines and the ever popular- finding patience with the step kids.  First of all not all steps have problems with the ex-wife or ex-husband.  If you do, you simply need to remind yourself that most of their issues are based on insecurity and a feeling of lack of control while the kids are with you.   That will reduce in time, unfortunately it may take years but it should resolve itself IF you can remain patient and NOT engage in a dueling of wits when temptation presents itself.

Secondly, remember it's easy to judge other peoples kids by your own standards when you are standing at a distance.  When you are tempted to say,  "If that were MY kid . . ."   STOP yourself and think hard about what you are about to stay or think.   I cannot stress more the importance of asking yourself HONESTLY 'If that were REALLY my kid . . .'   Take the emotion and frustration out of the picture and you just might discover that the action your spouse is taking is the same action you would take.  Step parents sometimes lack the rose colored glasses of real parents.  Yes, they may actually see the situation for what it really is and when that happens you MUST be careful not to judge.   Don't judge your spouse for how they handle the situation, don't judge the child without considering the cause of his/hers behavior.  Remember you are not the biological parent and therefore your best position is one of offering advice when consulted.   When that advice is offered it should be with compassion and understanding.  You should also not expect your advice to be taken every time.  The bio-parent needs to be the one calling the shots, it's their child.   Just remember this mantra 'It's not my kid, it's not my kid.' Keep in mind that you need to show a united front to the kids.  Don't ever let them see the two of you divided on any issue, believe me they will use that as a weapon.

Attempting to understand a child's actions is just as important as responding to them.   Sometimes it's difficult for a child to accept a new parent, no matter what their age.  Realize that it can take up to a full year for a child to recover from their parents 2nd marriage.  All our of 6 kids had problems in school that first year andjust as they began to come back around to their normal selves, their mother got remarried and it started all over again.

Just keep in mind you are not alone, there are a lot of blended families going through the same thing.  There are also counselors out their that can help if you discover you have a child with separation anxiety or other issues.  They really can help and you'd be surprisedhow well your kids/step kids will respond.

So the key to living through step-parenting is patience, honestly, being of one mind with your spouse and realizing the kids will someday grow up and move out on their own.  My two oldest are now in college, my husbands two oldest are also in college, his 2nd two oldest in high school and middle school and our youngest is 2 years old.   We've had our trials, errors, battles and ex-wars and somehow we survived and all the kids are doing fine.


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