In my last post I shared some thoughts on the important role of stepparents. Today I’m adding these specific steps toward becoming a fabulous stepparent! I’m sure there are more, but this is a good start:
1. Respect the role of the biological parents. Make your role a complement, not a competition. Move slowly into your new role!
2. Defer to the biological parents in decision making. Don’t take over the parenting role.
3. Allow the biological parents to do most of the discipline, especially at first. Support the rules they make.
4. Say nothing negative to the children about their biological parents— even if they say something negative about them to you! And do not let the children hear you and your spouse criticize the other parent.
5. Allow the children to decide what to call you. However, it’s best that they don’t call you the same name they use for their biological parent. For example, if they call their biological father “Daddy” perhaps they could call you “Papa.”
6. Develop your own relationship with the children. Find things to do that you both enjoy without encroaching on the other parent’s activities. For example, if the biological mother always takes the children swimming, you could take them biking or bowling or something other than swimming.
7. If you are the stepparent encourage and support your spouse’s relationship with the children. Allow them to have time alone together without you, occasionally, especially at first. The children should be reassured that you are not trying to take the parent away from them.
Remember that children benefit from having healthy relationships with all their parents. Support those relationships in any way you can and in the long run your relationship with your stepchildren, and probably your marriage, will be stronger for it.
If you are a stepparent and have other tips to add please share!