So you’ve been in a relationship for a significant amount of time. Maybe you’ve even gotten married. In some cases, this relationship comes with stepkids. Maybe they’re yours or maybe they come from previous relationships of your significant other’s.
Meeting your stepkids can be scary. You don’t want to seem like their “replacement parent,” but you also have rules of your own you expect to be followed in your home.
I’m not a stepparent, but as a stepchild, I have a few tips that can make this new transition easier for you and your new stepkids.
Take it Slow
Don’t rush into this new role. Children are a major responsibility and if you don’t already have kids of your own, taking on the role of stepparent can be intimidating. You shouldn’t go further into a relationship where kids are involved unless you feel like you’re really ready.
Ending relationships is hard enough. If you end one in this situation, it’s even harder because someone has to explain to the kids why the other won’t be coming around anymore.
We don’t want you to put on a facade just to please us. Chances are high that we’ll like you a lot more if you just act like yourself and hide away the nerves. This doesn’t just go with meeting your stepkids. It applies to meeting anybody in general.
I feel like this is the quintessential piece of advice that every parent gives their child the first time they meet someone new. But honestly, it couldn’t be more truthful. Acting like your natural self will help people see who you really are rather than a certain version of yourself.
Don’t Change Routines
This goes with the previous tip in a way. We don’t want you to change up your day-to-day routines to accommodate us. Of course, if your stepkids are children or teens, you may still need to adjust a bit to fit everybody’s needs.
This doesn’t mean you need to completely change your routine to cater to your new additions. Doing this will only lead to unnecessary resentment toward your significant other and possibly even their kids.
Have a Family Meeting
If your significant other and their kids are moving into your home or you into theirs, it’s important to clearly establish ground rules. This can be done easily by having a family meeting right away. Have everybody sit around the kitchen table or the living room and go over house rules.
Having an established set of ground rules lays the framework for the respect of one another and the house you’re living in.
Be Nurturing But Know Your Place
As a stepparent, it can be difficult to know your place in your bonus kid’s life. You want to be a positive authority figure, but you also don’t want to be deemed a “replacement parent.” The best thing you can do in this case is to offer constant support.
Be there for them for the tough times and cheer them on during their victories. It’s the little things that really go a long way in these situations.
Don’t Make the Child a Messenger/Spy
I’ve been lucky enough to be graced with a wonderful stepparent. But, I know how it feels to be a “messenger.” When one parent doesn’t want to have a conversation with the other, it’s easy to use the child as a scapegoat.
What they don’t realize is that this can really affect how a child sees themselves and how they see others. In my experience, it only made me resent the parent who constantly questioned me.
Respect the Other Parent, Even If It’s Hard
This one really ties into the previous tip. Even if you completely despise the child’s other parent, you should still be respectful. If you want to be a positive influence on their life, you need to radiate positivity.
Leave the negativity for the kid-free margarita dates with your girlfriends.
Becoming a stepparent can be scary, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences too. You have the opportunity to have a wonderful relationship with a child even if they aren’t biologically yours.
Just remember that it will come with its own challenges and you’re going to hear the “you’re not my mom/dad” line more than you’re able to count. Stay strong and continue being a positive role model and you’ll be well on your way to a wonderful step-relationship.