The Smart Stepparent: Discover Your Place in Your Stepchild’s Life
Are you new to the world of step parenting and the blended family? When entering into a relationship with a person who has children, it can initially seem like an hard, slow and muddy battle. You need to understand that you will most likely end up as a stepparent if the relationship is meant to last, so get focused.
Therefore, it is important to recognize the importance of your role in the children’s lives. While they are not your biological children, you still carry a lot of weight as both an authority figure and as a valued family member. But your role is not always clear and is not the same in every family.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand how to develop a relationship with your stepchildren so that you can all be closer and build a strong foundation as a family. Here is a framework to follow as you grow into your role as stepparent.
Phase 1: The Babysitter
At first, you may encounter some resistance. While the children may be uncertain of your new role in the family, they will still be able to see that you are an adult and that your authority carries some weight. They may see you at the beginning as more like a babysitter than a real parent. But don’t get discouraged. It takes time to build the foundation for a close family relationship.
Phase 2: The Auntie or Uncle
Gradually, as the kids start to let you in, you may find that they start to treat you like they would an uncle or aunt. This role still carries the closeness of being a member of a family, without carrying the same weight as being a parent. And this is okay, because you have to understand that you can never replace their biological parents.
Phase 3: Almost a Parent
Depending on the children’s ages and the family dynamics, you may reach a point where the children look to you as almost being on the same level as the biological parents. However, you should never set out to replace the biological parent.
Phase 4: Mentor
If the children are older when you joined the family, you may encounter more resistance than with younger children. If this is the case, perhaps you can become more like a trusted friend of mentor, offering advice and support without expecting to join the same level as parent. This can be a good compromise because the more caring adults in a child’s life, the better!