The first post identified the four pieces needed build a foundation of respect for a stepfather and within the home:
- Stepdad Receives Authority to Parent from Wife,
- Wife Disciplines Children,
- Respectful Behavior is the Standard, and
- Stepdad Handling His Mistakes.
Implementing these pieces will help ensure you are respected as an adult and stepfather. Additionally, it helps to ensure the interactions within your home are based in respect. This post will focuses on two more considerations influencing respect within the blended family: A Stepfather’s Expectations and Setting a Good Example.
Ask yourself the following questions if you have concerns with your children’s behavior.
- What are your expectations regarding the children’s behavior? Are they beyond respectful behavior? How does your wife feel about your expectations?
- Are you expecting your stepchildren to behave based on the way you had to behave?
Depending on when you enter your stepchildren lives it may be unreasonable to expect anything beyond respectful behavior. When assuming responsibilities as head of your new family, please be patient and discuss any changes you’re considering with your wife.
Ensure your wife is completely onboard with any changes you would like to make. Suggest waiting for at least six months before making any changes; remember you’re entering a new family system with established rules and standards of behavior.
It’s wise to take time to observe how things work or don’t work before suggesting changes. Remember to ask yourself the questions raised earlier regarding the changes you would like to see in your stepchildren’s behavior before deciding to pursue changes.
Setting a Great Example
If you expect to receive respect, it’s important for you to give respect first. Regardless of what you may be thinking and feeling inside you must set the proper example. If you are constantly yelling at your kids, losing your temper, cursing or trying to manipulate them into doing as you said, is it any surprise your children respond in kind? You, their stepfather, are teaching them to act that way by you own example. When you speak in a respectful and calm manner, chances are good they will respond in kind.
Praise your stepchildren when you notice them behaving in a respectful manner. For example, if you catch your stepson holding the car door open for his mom, sister, or a stranger be sure to compliment them for it. Reinforce all instances of respectful behavior with praise and/or reward.
Be sure to treat your wife with respect and honor – to treat her otherwise is not only setting a poor example, but it will practically guarantee her children will give you a hard way to go.
The final post will address Teachable Moments. Please read the book review for Smart Stepfamily, The: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family
The Smart Stepfamily Book Review
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