When you meet a new person that you like, one of the first questions you’ll want to know is if your new potential partner has a child. If so, and things start to get serious, you’re naturally going to start wondering how you will handle becoming a step parent to this child. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind if you want to be a good stepparent.
Tip Number One: You Are Joining the Family; Not the Child
As the non-birth parent, you must accept and realize that you are the one joining the family—they are not joining your life, you are joining theirs. Learning how the household structure works takes time and patience. At the beginning, it’s important to observe and learn the personalities and habits of the child. You must also be willing to do any and everything the birth parent would do. For example, be willing to make dinner, help with homework and have quality family time doing what the kids love to do. Most of all it is crucial that you show genuine concern and attention to the children at all times. If you truly love the child’s parent that means you also must love and care for her kids.
Tip Number Two: The Children Always Come First
Raising children is very demanding and challenging—especially if you’ve never done it before. Learning to love a child means that you will incur plenty of daily sacrifices. Being a parent or a step parent can be the most thankless job a person could have.
For example, after a long tedious day at work, you may realize on the way home that there’s nothing at home for dinner. When you were single, you might just eat a hamburger from a fast food restaurant, go home and go to bed. But when you have kids you have to consider their needs. So do you go somewhere to purchase food for everyone or just feed yourself? A good parent or step parent always considers the needs of the children first.
Tip Number Three: The Birth Parent Is Always the “Bad Guy”
When a child commits an act that is deemed punishable in the household, the birth parent is always the disciplinarian. The couple should have a private conversation to discuss this possible scenario in advance, but the final decision about disciplining a child must always come from the birth parent. You may wonder why this is the case. It’s because the child should not believe that the birth parent has been influenced by the stepparent in making the decision to punish for bad behavior. If that happens, the stepparent instantly becomes the bad guy and resentment starts to build. The child must first develop a strong respect and trust for the new stepparent before he or she is allowed to “lay down the law.”
The stepparent must always adhere to the decisions of the birth parent regarding the child. If the stepparent is home alone with a child who has behaved badly, the step parent must immediately consult the birth parent before enacting a punishment. If the birth parent enacts a punishment that the child is confined to his room, the child must remain in his room. This makes the child aware that the birth parent and stepparent are now a team, which prevents potential problems and conflicts in the future.
In conclusion, it is possible to raise well-rounded children in a blended family, but to do so it is essential to put the kids first and make it clear that the birth parent is in total control of all child-rearing decisions. When the child-rearing process is done correctly, as adults the children will realize that the step parent was in their lives to provide love, nurturing and support.
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