There can be no doubt that being a stepparent is tough – it can be like navigating an emotional minefield. Step parenting advice can be very valuable, particularly when it comes from experts and others who speak from personal experience. We look at how stepparents can help raise happy and healthy children and retain their own happiness and self-respect at the same time.
Step parenting advice dos
Do – have some empathy
Do try and understand where your stepchild or children are coming from. A divorce of one’s parents or the death of a parent can be traumatic in the extreme even if this has happened a while ago. If the child seems difficult and hostile, there are probably some very good reasons for it. Try to look at things from your child’s perspective.
Do – follow your spouse’s lead
When it comes to discipline, try to follow your spouse’s lead. This is sound step parenting advice because a child is going to resent discipline from a biological parent much less than a stepparent.
Do – help your stepchild as much as possible
Obviously helping your stepchild with their work and other areas of life will help you curry favor with the child. So be sympathetic and try to help your stepchild out as much as possible.
Do – set rules and boundaries
You may do everything to ingratiate yourself with your stepchild, but don’t bend over backwards. If the child feels he or she can get away with things, this will erode their respect for you and undermine your authority as a parent. So make sure that you insist on respect and that you consistently enforce rules and boundaries.
Step parenting advice don’ts
Don’t – bad mouth the other parent
Of all the step parenting advice out there, this is something that most experts will agree on. Speaking ill of a departed or estranged parent will create dislike and resentment; just what you want to steer clear of. Also it shows you in a poor light – as being vindictive and unforgiving.
Don’t – have unrealistic expectations
Hopefully a good relationship will develop between you and your stepchild/children. However, this will take time. Also don’t expect the bond to be as deep and loving as it may be with a biological parent. So give your step child time and space to come to terms with the changed situation, step siblings if any and other facets of the situation.
Don’t – play favorites
If your own biological children are part of the situation, be sure that you are fair and consistent with them as well as your stepchildren. Don’t play favorites in either case. Take care not only to be fair and consistent but also to appear so.
Don’t – be hypersensitive
This is some more valuable step parenting advice for stepparents. Try to develop a tough skin and don’t read too much into actions and comments. There is no need to take any nonsense from your stepchild, but try not to react to provocation as far as possible.