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How To Deal With Bullying As A Stepdad

“How To Deal With Bullying As A Stepdad” is in follow-up to writer’s Melissa Davis’ post, “The Physical Signs of Bullying In Children.”

Unfortunately, bullying is a major issue which affects thousands of children every year. It’s awful for the affected children, and it may leave permanent psychological damage. It’s not exactly a walk in the park for parents and guardians either – nobody wants to see a child they love suffering. Every caring parent wants to be able to help their bullied child, but for stepdads this can be a tricky situation.

Not only are they not directly your kids, but as a step-parent – being effectively one step removed from the child, however emotionally close they feel – often feels helpless and unable to do anything which may be seen as “interfering.”

Here are a few strategies to help stepdads to get a hold on a bullying situation, and to help a suffering child.

Get The Child To Open Up

As previously covered, there are several ways in which a parent can tell if their child is being bullied. Sometimes, the only signs are buried deep within the affected child’s spirit. Children are very good at putting a happy face on things. They’re also good at masquerading as the kid they think their parents want them to be.

Furthermore, a child who already feels vulnerable and a “failure” due to bullying is unlikely to want to admit further perceived vulnerability and weakness to what may be the last people whom they see as loving and respecting them.

In the absence of self-respect, a bullied child may highly treasure the respect of parents and stepparents.  A bullied child will fear losing that respect if they admit they’re suffering at the hands of bullies.

From Day One, make it clear to your children and stepchildren that opening up and being honest about bullying will only make you respect them more for their bravery.

As a stepdad, you may find yourself in a unique position – plenty of stepchildren are curiously more inclined to open up about things like this to step-parents rather than biological parents.  Perhaps because step-parents are that little bit removed from their immediate situation. Use this to your advantage if you feel that your stepkids are being bullied. Once you know what’s going on, you can start to work at dealing with it.

Sing From The Same Hymn Sheet

One of the hardest things about being a stepdad is trying to get your parenting style in line with the parenting styles of the children’s biological parents. This is a complex negotiating process, which all too often results in conflicts of control, and even the kind of Alpha-Male posturing between Dad and Stepdad which really isn’t going to help anyone in the long run.

In cases like that of bullying, it’s really important to put all notions of power and control aside, and concentrate solely on what is best for the child.

You may disagree on what this is to some extent, but try to hash these issues out in as polite and thorough way as possible, always remembering this isn’t about your or anyone else’s ego, but about easing the suffering of a child about whom you all care. Before anything is done, make sure you’re all in agreement about the way in which you’re going to deal with the situation, and about the way in which you’re going to present yourselves and your solutions to the child. The last thing a confused and saddened child needs at this point is mixed messages from those s/he loves and trusts the most.

Be Supportive

You undoubtedly know this already, but it’s incredibly important to be loving and supportive towards a bullied child. The actual bullying itself may stop, but the major psychological effects of bullying can continue for years if the child is unable to process, deal with and eliminate them. One of the best ways to ensure your stepchild’s spirit is resilient enough to do this is to bolster it with the security of a loving parental environment.

So love and support them – which is not the same as indulging and spoiling them! – no matter what.

About The Author

Mel Stevens is first and foremost a mom to two young children, she’s become increasingly concerned about the amount of young people turning to alcohol as a way to cope with their lives. She herself has battled addiction in the past and is now using her career as a writer to help inform and educate people on issues regarding mental health.

The goal of parents in the blended family is the same as in the intact family – to raise responsible and confident children. Click here to learn how to do it.

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