Becoming a parent by blending families or marrying someone with kids comes with an array of challenges.

Nobody goes into a marriage anticipating divorce, and children don’t look forward to the day their parents live in separate houses. There’s a lot going on – broken hearts, endings, and well … people won’t always be on their best behaviour! Kids mourn the loss of what they had, or hoped could be, and those feelings take time to work through.

You’ll have to approach this new journey with patience and understanding for the feelings of those involved. There’s going to be rough patches and that’s okay. Sometimes things have to fall apart a little so they can come back together in a different way. The family will recalibrate and change shape to make room for you, and that sort of adjustment was never going to be easy. Try to accept this as a sign of progression towards a new kind of family – one with you in it.

It’s a delicate dance and no matter how hard you try; there’s no guarantee of creating one big, happy, Brady-Bunchish family.

Stepparents may feel enormous pressure to get things “right”, especially given those long held social stigmas (wicked stepmother, anyone?!) that come with the job.

The good news is that there are a few guidelines to smooth the bumps along the way:

Start slow

The initial role of a stepparent is that of another caring adult in a child’s life. You may desire a closer bond right away, but allow things to develop naturally. Over time you could develop a more meaningful relationship which doesn’t necessarily have to resemble the one they have with their birth parents.

Know your role

Stepmom/dad. Not evil. Not perfect. Not mom/dad. Even if your spouse has primary custody. Even if the other biological parent rarely sees them. Even if they call you mom or dad. Don’t try to replace your stepchild’s biological parent. Be there as a support system, role model and caring ear.

Don’t be a disciplinarian

It is your stepchild’s parents’ job to discipline their child, not yours. Use your creativity and positive thoughts to create an environment where a relationship with your stepchildren are encouraged. That being said, they must treat you as kindly and respectfully as they would any other acquaintance of the family.

Don’t badmouth the biological parents

You will have your opinions, but keep it to yourself. Make it clear that the relationship your stepchild has with his/her biological parent doesn’t have to change because you are present.

Allow your them alone time with your partner

Show them that there’s no competition, and that you truly want to see them happy.

Protect your marriage

You and your partner need to be each other’s refuge, particularly when you’re having issues with your stepchildren. Pinpoint problems and protect your relationship relentlessly. Your step kids need to see that you stick together when times are tough. It will teach them to do the same.

Be open to letting go

Be open to the possibility that you may never be close to your stepchildren. Being committed to make it work doesn’t mean that it will work out as planned. There is enormous grace and courage in being able to let go, which is different to giving up.

Molly Barrow, PhD., and author of How to Survive Step Parenting said: “Blending a family is like a dish that takes a long time to cook, you can’t force it before it’s ready.” Good luck!







DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.