Being a step-parent is tricky. Knowing how much to intervene in your step-child’s life without doing too much… or too little. Here are some important parenting tactics you can use to strengthen your relationship with your step-child.
Don’t Try to Change Everything Too Fast
Parents.com provides some great advice for step-parents on the subject of discipline, specifically how it is important not to change all the rules too quickly. Yes, you may come from a different background than your spouse, and if you have children, they may be used to different rules. But a good way to make sure you can build a beneficial relationship with your step-child is to ease them into your way of parenting. Remember, they’re already dealing with a lot of change: divorce, new parents, new siblings, etc.
Don’t Try to Become an Authoritarian
This is your spouse’s job. Still, you don’t want to be a pushover either. It’s good to stay strong in your resolve when dealing with your step-child but better not to raise your voice, lay down the law too hard, or start implementing punishments (especially not early on). The best tactic to use when your step-child does something they shouldn’t is to be clear with your feelings and to let them know the issue won’t just disappear.
Build a Relationship
According to C.E.L. & Associates, Divorce Meditation & Parenting Coordinators, it’s important to let the child set the pace for your relationship. Building a relationship isn’t easy and will likely take time. However, we all know how it’s done: through time and shared experiences. So it can help to get involved in an activity your step-child likes or to find something the two of you have in common. This will allow you to start building a bond, albeit slowly.
Never Forget Your Responsibility
When you married someone with a child or children from a former relationship, you’re taking on those children as a part of your life just like you took on your new spouse. Therefore, you have a responsibility to build a relationship with them. This responsibility is even stronger, though, because the other party is a child and, as such, cannot be expected to take on an adult portion of responsibility. It is always up to you to take the high road, to remember that you are the adult in the relationship and to keep reminding yourself that you are a parent.
If you need more help, don’t be afraid to reach for it. There’s plenty of support available, so you can get through this difficult time in your life.