Becoming a Step Parent
Did any of us step parents plan to do this?
Did we think we would meet someone who already has children and begin this path of uncertainty?
You have probably answered no to the questions above. We can’t help who we meet, like and possibly fall in love with. Sometimes it just happens and we go with the flow and all seems wonderful.
Once reality hits it can be a worrying and anxious time for a new step parent. But it doesn’t have to be like that if you approach it right.
ok lets start with expectations.
What do you expect when you enter your step family for the first time?
- Instant love and respect from the step children?
- The ex partner to welcome you with open arms?
- Everything to be smooth and easy?
- Slot straight into your parent role and know what your role is?
If any of these have happened for you then I am over the moon for you. If none of the above did then I am with you and feeling your pain.
Let’s break them down one by one.
Love and Respect
Neither of these are coming your way quickly and that is okay. Time and patience will win through. Respect is earned and love comes with time. That said, this doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to be disrespected on any level. Respect should be given and received by all parties.
Love is definitely something that comes with time and sometimes never arrives. If you find yourself not loving your step children, that is okay. There shouldn’t be any pressure for any step parent to feel guilty if they don’t love their step kids. The pressure some step parents put on themselves to find a way or make themselves love their step children will only cause stress and resentment. Go slow and learn to bond with the children and get to know them before the word LOVE even comes into your mind. Give yourself permission to take small steps and go at your own pace.
The ex partner to welcome you with open arms.
Mmmmmmmmm, if they do then that’s fantastic. Is it a reality, well in my own experience no it’s not very likely. As step parents we have to try to see the view from the ex partners point of view. If someone entered the lives of your children how would you feel? You would want to check them out and see who they are and how they will be treating your children. Have they been a parent before and do they know what they are doing. We have to expect some investigation into who we are and what we do. But it has to be measured and not aggressive or disrespectful. You may find the ex partner judging you before even meeting you which is common. Allow them time to get familiar with the whole idea of you being involved in their children’s lives and share some empathy with how they might be feeling.
I would suggest discussing with your partner the best way to be introduced to their ex partner and make the meeting on neutral ground and very short so you all have a chance to meet but no one is under too much pressure. Keep it polite and treat it almost like a business meeting to start with. You never know, you might become friends and have a great relationship with them which would make life so much better for everyone. If not then stay calm and leave your partner to deal with their ex. Give the whole situation time and see how things turn out.
Everything to be smooth and easy
I really hope it is smooth and easy for you. There are many different scenarios to consider. Are you blending two lots of children together? Are you moving in to your partners house or one that you have chosen together?
I would strongly advise that you slowly get to know your step children before you move in together. If there are children on both sides then slowly introduce them over a period of time so that when you all start sharing a house together, relationships have already started to grow. Make the meetings fun and light hearted so no one feels like they have to act or be a behave a particular way. Be mindful that some members of the family may take longer to adjust to these new surroundings and these new people coming into their life. Preparation is vital to help all of you have a smooth and easier introduction to your new step family. There will be bumps in your step family road and that is okay. Every family experiences this and it’s part of the course of becoming a parent. Everyone must be allowed time, patience and have their feelings valued and understood. Small steps and celebrate your small wins.
Knowing what your parent role is
So what is your role? Any ideas? Who will tell you what you can and can’t do? Who will tell you what is okay to say and not say? Should you discipline your step children? Will you be expected to look after them and care for them? Are you happy to do that?
So many questions need answers before you engage in becoming a step family. You owe it to yourself to discuss this with your partner and ask them how they see your role. Do they want you to help with the parenting of their children? If they do then on what level would they need your help. If you are the main carer whilst your partner is at work, then you need to establish where your boundaries are. If an issue arises then how much authority do you have to deal with this situation. Discuss different scenarios and how you both would be comfortable to address these. Write everything down and be crystal clear so you both know what each others roles are and hold yourselves to account if either of you goes back on this agreement. Mistakes will happen and this is where you go back and revisit this written agreement and discuss what is the best way to deal with it. You might have to make tweaks or adjust this written agreement as time goes on and the children get older or your own situation changes, and that’s okay.
Take your time with entering this step family environment and give yourself permission to make mistakes. Communication with all concerned is important to learning how others feel but also making sure your feelings and emotions are valued. Be very clear on everyones views and feelings about this blending of families and get to know everyone before living together. Bond with the children and allow them time to gradually get to know who you are. Remember that this is a whole new life you are starting and it can be truly wonderful if you are prepared and have very few expectations. Slowly and take small steps.
Enjoy your Step Family..........