Parenting your own children is challenging enough but when you are parenting someone else’s children, the demands are intensified. When a new marriage thrusts you into the role of step parent, you may find the journey to be fraught with obstacles; but with a little sensitivity and a lot of communication you can find the role of step parenting an enormously rewarding one.
Step parenting can mean that you are faced with marriage and parenthood in one fell swoop. Adjusting to married life can be challenging enough but when you compound the issues with children who are often bitter and confused, you’re not always off to a great start. And if you don’t have children of your own, you are now having your first experience with parenting. It can be extremely stressful for all involved.
Begin by remembering that step parenting is an evolution. This is a situation that will require quite a bit of adjustment; and as things settle down and the dust clears you will find that you have settled in to a rhythm.
Remember first and foremost that the job of step parenting does not require you to be your step children’s friend. While you may not be their biological parent you are still an adult who is worthy of respect. Children have plenty of friends; what they need is adult involvement and healthy parenting.
Conversely, while you may not your step children’s friend, you are also not their biological parent. Just as you are asking them to afford you a certain amount of respect, make it clear that you will respect their boundaries as well. Assure them that you understand that you are not their parent and you are not trying to take the place of that parent. Many times this will be just what the children need to hear. Rather than having to protect themselves from someone who they are concerned is trying to usurp their parent, they can relax and think of you as who you are – the person who is married to their mom or dad.
Step parenting can be a really rewarding role. Sometimes these relationships wind up being some of the most special to come from such a union. Begin your own unique journey by getting to know the children to whom you will be step parenting. You may find that they are amazing people to know.