Again, I hate the terms “step mom” or “step child” or “step dad”. We use the term “blended family” so that I can avoid the shiver that follows those words. However for all intents and purposes, I’m going to make an exception for this post to avoid confusion.
Having a blended family can be so beautiful, but also extremely challenging at times. You are dealing with combining two households with different sets of rules, and ways of doing things. The list can be pretty extensive and includes but is not limited to: different bed times, different clean up rules, different curfews, different punishments, different rules on what kids can watch, different rules for behaviors and different expectations all the way around. Finding a middle ground can seem daunting, but once you work through it, it’s much easier on everyone. There is definitely some give and take that needs to happen with this from both sides.
Our situation deals with 3 different households. Our household, and another parents household for each of our boys. With combining 3 different households, we try our best to have similar rules and routines, but it’s just not possible to be on the same schedule everyday. We all have different things going on, other kids involved in those other households, and different work schedules. This is why we try our best to be in tune with our kids as far as their frustrations when transitioning into each household each week.
The following are my 5 best pieces of advice on how to have a healthy and strong relationship with your stepchild(ren). As always, these are just from my personal experience and my point of view so take it or leave it. What works for me won’t always work for others, especially because every blended family is different with different circumstances.
As the stepparent, you get to play a very important role in the life of your stepchild. In our case (and in the case of many families I’ve talked to) the stepparent is able to leave most of the discipline to the parent. I’m definitely not saying that Brian and I don’t discipline each others kids, but being the “evil stepmother” is a role I’ve never wanted to play. Overstepping boundaries by inserting yourself as a disciplinary in their life might be threatening which will lead to a lack of trust and bonding between your step child and you. Be careful of boundaries, it will help your trust and relationship so much.
Be Patient/Give Them Their Space:
Especially depending on the age of the kids, be patient and allow for space. Depending on the split situation, not all kids are as open to stepparents or another woman/man in their parents lives. Allowing them to have their own space is important so they do not feel like you are being overpowering or pushing yourself on them.
There is nothing more important to me than openness with my children, especially my step son. If my step son ever feels like I am overstepping boundaries, or making him upset, I want him to tell me. If something is bothering either of my children at school, or any other place, I want them to tell me. Sometimes stepchildren may feel like they cannot come to you with a problem or concern because you are “not their parent” and they need to wait to tell mom/dad. I don’t want this to be the case, I want Jayce to know that I want him to be just as open with me as Marek is. As a stepparent, you are still a parent and you are still there to protect them and help them in any way that you can.
Parent With Your Spouse:
Anyone who is married knows that you aren’t going to agree with your spouse on everything. Brian and I rarely agree on anything at all, but when it comes to parenting ESPECIALLY in a blended household, it is SO IMPERATIVE that you both be on the same page. Especially because there are 3+ households that these kids are in, it is important that you and your spouse are a team and can parent together even when you may disagree at times. It is important to sent a good example of what a strong marriage and relationship looks like so that your children have good examples to look up to.
Be a Family:
We have not once introduced our family as “my husbands kid” or “my wife and her son”. We will forever be, “my husband/wife and my boys” because that’s what we are, we are a family. It is so important to treat both kids the same, and I think that by Brian and I both treating each others kids as our own has really built a bond with all 4 of us that is like no other. Our kids respect us (most days), and our kids can appreciate our family time and our family bond. In this life, that’s the most important thing: FAMILY. In the end, it’s really all we’ve got. So treat your “
stepchild” as your child, and the rest will follow.
Until next time!