What should my role as a step-parent be?

Apr 23, 2015

I am a step-parent....now what?!?!

Being a step-parent can be a very challenging role.  Often you feel like you can not do anything right.  This can be stressful for you, your spouse and the children.  Try these steps to make some differences in your role with your step-children.Help.png

DO get on the same page with your spouse around parenting

Parents need to discuss rewards, punishments, chores, allowance, bedtimes, homework and come to agreement about the rules.

Tip:  If something comes up that you have not discussed, just defer to one parent and work it out later away from the kids.

DO have family meetings weekly

Give everyone, including the kids, an opportunity to discuss what is going on, how they are feeling, what they like and don’t like.  Ask for everyone to share both positive and negative.

DO encourage your stepchild to have one on one time with both of his biological parents.

Remember this is not a competition – when you are supportive of it, you are sending the message that you want the child to be happy.

DO plan activities with your stepchild

Doing things together is a great way to bond.  Pick things you and the child like to do. 

Goal:  Try to have one-on-one time together at least once per month

DON’T overstep your bounds

A common mistake stepparents make is over-disciplining in an attempt to gain respect.  The role of the stepparent is to be an active supporter of the direct parent’s disciplinary efforts.

Tip:  Allow the primary parent to discipline their own children for at least the first year. 

DON’T set your expectations to high

Give your ‘new’ family time to develop on its own without the pressure of how you think it should be.  It takes time and shared experiences to create a meaningful relationship.

DON’T take it personally

Remember stepchildren are dealing with their own feelings about the relationship – it takes time.  Allow your stepchild to work through those feelings

Be ready to hear “YOU ARE NOT MY REAL MOM/DAD”

This is the stepchild’s way of attempting to take power away from your roles.  When this happens, keep it factual and avoid the power struggle

For example “You are right, I am not your biological parent.  It doesn’t mean I love or care about you less.”

Do you or your spouse feel you could use more specific ideas for your family.  Contact Darcia at 303-726-4560 or Diane at 303-907-7072 or email us at contact@embarkcounseling.net.


Darcia DeSalvo

Darcia is a Partner with Embark Counseling Get in touch with her at darcia@embarkcounseling.net

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