Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

4 Ways to Get Through the First Years of Step-Parenting

Parenting is challenging enough, but helping to raise a spouse’s children from a previous relationship can place added strain on a marriage. Step-parenting is not easy for many families due to the challenges of getting acquainted with children and the way they have been raised that may be very different from your parenting norms. To make life simpler for everyone, here are a few tips for navigating those early step-parenting years.

Be Patient

Becoming a step-parent means that you are assuming an entirely new life role. Unlike parenting biological children, raising kids who have lived in other family arrangements means that they will have to get used to the way things are done in your home, and you will need to become familiar with how they have been raised in other parenting relationships. During this critical adjustment phase, it helps to be patient and stay calm as you all get to know each other and understand mutual expectations. There may be missteps on either side, but that is to be expected, and things should improve before long.

Flexibility Helps

Although you may have firm views about how to raise kids and how your new family should interact, it pays to be flexible. Instead of expecting the kids to do all the conforming and make the necessary changes, you as the step-parent can set a positive example by showing willingness to compromise in non-critical issues. Rather than adopting a tone of surrender or an attitude of giving in, reinforce your role as mature adult with a pragmatic outlook to helping your new family to get established.

Find Support

This may be a great time to get together with other step-parents or join a support group. If your schedule is busy, you can find helpful blogs with stepdad quotes online that can be read quickly at your convenience. Knowing that others have experienced similar challenges and persevered successfully will help to make your transition a little smoother.

Have Fun

Remember to add a healthy dose of fun to your family life. Play games, get involved in community sports, exercise together, cook meals, and do other activities that bond everyone closer. Give twice as many compliments as criticism, and smile frequently to show acceptance and affection.

Becoming an effective step-parent takes time for everyone involved. You can’t immediately replace a biological parent or compete with that parent for a step-child’s loyalty. Ease into the role calmly and gradually build a supportive relationship with your new children to make your lives together healthy, meaningful, and enjoyable.

Tim Esterdahl

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