As a step parent, you face many real issues, and so you need to learn to apply creative solutions to address the specific needs of your family. These include improved communication, discipline, and problem solving. This step parenting advice will help you develop well-functioning relationships with your stepchildren.
Strengthen your relationship with your spouse
It is easy for step parenting to become the major focus in your relationship. But make every effort to build the bonds with your spouse, and keep emotionally connected, for this is an essential ingredient in parenting successfully. A good place to start is to strengthen your communication and speak openly and honestly with each other. Also, find ways, such as regular date nights, to talk and share without interruption from the children.
Stand together as a couple
You and your spouse need to take a common position on important family issues. Try to deal with issues such as discipline and chores in a consistent manner. When this is done, it lessens feelings of unfairness in your dealings with your biological children and stepchildren. Don’t argue in front of your children, as this could cause insecurity. Similarly, make it clear to them that you will not tolerate disrespecting a step parent.
Create clear boundaries
Your discipline styles might be different, but decide on how you will discipline the children consistently and fairly in your blended family. The role each step parent will play must be clear to the children. Also, be sure to discuss the changes that will take place in the new household with the children. At first, consider letting biological parents discipline their own children until the relationship develops between the children and their step parent.
Be flexible and learn to adjust
Children need structure, and routine is important especially for younger children. However, you will need to exercise flexibility and a willingness to compromise when necessary. There are times when you have to adjust and change plans for the benefit of your children and stepchildren. You will find that this lessens some of the stress the stepchildren might face in their new home. Find time to enjoy fun activities with your kids to ease the pressure.
Encourage effective communication
Good communication is a skill that is important in all relationships, and particularly in step parenting. Try to actively listen to your stepchildren and other family members as they share their thoughts and feelings. Give them your full attention, even though you may not agree with everything they say. Be careful to show respect to your stepchildren in your words and actions.
Have regular family meetings
Family meetings can give perspectives on the various sides to issues in the family. Discuss issues such as family values, discipline, and how household chores will be assigned. This helps you better understand how family members, including your stepchildren, are thinking. Give them opportunities to express their feelings and opinions about important issues. Be open to their input, especially as they grow into the teen years. However, you and your spouse, as parents, must be responsible for the final decisions that affect the family.
Develop a support network
Find a step parenting support group in your community, and draw on the resources it offers, such as step parenting advice. Similarly, talk to other step parents, and learn how they address some of the issues of step parenting.
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