When The Shoe Rarely Fits: How To Overcome ‘Stepfather’ Issues
A lot has been written about step-mothering, but you’ll rarely find resource materials on how to be a good stepfather. Possibly because men, in general, are primarily viewed as the breadwinner and are not as involved as stepmoms in the raising children.
Becoming a stepfather is not a role for the immature and easily offended. Most men who marry women with kids and become a stepfather enter the role without adequate preparation, if any.
Most likely you married with the good intentions of becoming the man of the household and partnering with your wife to successfully raise her children. Sadly, as evidenced by the nearly 70% divorce rate for blended families, you end up frustrated and confused on why being a stepfather is not what you expected.
If you are a stepfather or considering becoming one here are some tips to successfully handle this role.
Take It Slow
A stepfather’s disillusionment can be greatly reduced if he and his future spouse is realistic and honest about their expectations before saying, “I do.” Topics like parenting styles, discipline, finances and where you’ll live should be discussed in detail well before you walk down the aisle.
Some children may see a stepfather as a competition to replace their bio dad. Also, some kids may become jealous their mother’s attention is now divided between them and her new husband.
In some instances, the children may consider you as the reason why their bio dad left or why Mom replaced him with you.
Gradually ease yourself into your step children’s lives – push at your own peril. Give your stepchildren time to get used to having you around. Let the children discover the beautiful things about you instead of imposing your qualifications on them.
Don’t Be Imposing
A common mistake of many stepfathers is establishing authority and discipline over the children right away. Children don’t like that.
It’s a good move to let their mothers handle that issue. Be on the look-out for opportunities where you can step in and give your stepkids the opportunity build some trust in you.
This can happen through casual conversations where you can allow your stepkids to open up and share their thoughts and feelings to you.
Take Care Of Your Marriage
Focus more on the relationship with your wife than on your relationship with your stepchildren. This doesn’t mean you only pay lip service to your relationship with your stepkids, you still need to work at.
Focus more on the marriage – why? It is because the fastest way to to make the children like and love you is to take good care of their mother.
Children will feel at ease if they see you’re a good husband to their mother – this makes you a potential good stepfather too.
Romance their mother and do things she likes doing, for example, treating her to her favorite spa, taking her to her favorite furniture store, dining with her at her favorite restaurant and more. Invite the children once in awhile to join in.
An enjoyable event dedicated to enjoyment and pleasure is a good foundation for developing your relationship with your stepchildren.
Be Fair and Square
The uniform rule of thumb in the blended family is to fairness and equality for all. All includes your children (from previous marriage or relationship) and hers.
Nothing brings more trouble and resentment than treating the children differently. Nothing escapes the observation of the children.
Children will most likely feel mistreated or treated unfairly if you are not careful with your words and actions. Of course, you will have a stronger connection to your biological children which will require you to pay even more attention to establishing fairness.
Treat Them Like Your Own
This goes along with being fair and square. Make sure you are ready to give (your love for example) as much as you are desiring (the children’s acceptance). It’s a two-way street.
Step-fathering is never easy, but with the right emotional and mental preparation and actions, it will be a rewarding experience for you, your wife and children. Just be aware of the limitations and realities that come along with it.
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