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stepdadding the do's and don'ts -Silhouette of father with son and daughter walking at sunset

Stepdadding – The Do’s And Don’ts

We all know stepfathering can be an unfamiliar territory accompanied with limited directions and seemingly filled with booby traps and landmines. Sometimes it can feel easier to retreat than engage and be considered the “enemy” or worse the “evil stepdad.”

However, with knowledge and preparation, it’s possible to have a profound relationship and leadership role with your stepchildren.

You can offer the child guidance, love and encouragement. Being a stepdad can be an incredibly positive and rewarding experience.

If you want to have the best possible experience and avoid the booby traps and land mines there are some specific things to know and do to get the very best out of your stepdad experience. Here are some stepdadding do’s and don’ts.

Don’t – Try to Take the Father’s Place

Whether your new relationship is the result of a break-up or a death, you should never try to take the place of the other biological parent.

No matter what the biological ex-spouse has done, you should always respect the child’s need to love that parent. Similarly, you should never expect or demand for the child to call you dad.

Instead, you should be clear with yourself and the child about your role in the family. You can become a loved and respected mentor to the child. Additionally, the child can develop the feelings of love and respect for you without using the term dad.

If the child decides on their own to call you dad, show subtle gratitude and a humble responsibility to live up to the title.

Do – Be Open with Your Stepchild

You and your step child are in this together. Both of you have to work out this whole step-relationship thing and it isn’t easy.

Make sure you listen to their concerns and be open with them. Talk to them about your life, career, interests, likes and dislikes so they can get to know you.

Also, get to know theirs. Take part in their activities and involve them in yours.

Not only will you find some common ground to connect on, but you’ll be able to participate in their development as people. Sometimes, children will use their mum as a shield to avoid getting close to you, but if you show them how much fun you can be alone, you can build up your relationship.

Don’t – Bad Mouth the Father

Talking ill about the biodad is always a no-no, even if the stepchildren are doing it. You should listen with empathy and kindness.  Don’t put down the parent to the child or allow the child to hear negative comments about their father.

After all, the child is 50 percent of the person you’re talking about. They can be damaged by ongoing conflict and repeated negative messages.

Instead, be a pair of ears if your stepchild needs to vent making sure not to contribute. Try and contain any conflict between the mother and their ex.

You can be a tremendous support to your partner and your stepchildren when you maintain some objectivity and do not enter every conflict.

Do – Properly Prepare for Stepdad Life

Living with kids and a family is a huge change from living alone, and it can sometimes happen very quickly. It’s always a good idea to try and prepare yourself for life with little ones as much as possible.

There is much more emphasis on meal times and eating together as a family; you need to get into a routine with the children and no more leaving breakable things like lsa champagne flutes on sides low enough for little hands to reach.

Living alone for a long period can also make you a little selfish. Your free to do what you want whenever you want.

When you become a stepdad, it means you may have to work with the children instead.

For example, your TV time is after they’re in bed. Lay-ins (sleeping in) are probably going to be a thing of the past.

Thankfully, it’s not all losses, parenting children can bring great joy, laughter and happiness into your life.The little moments you will experience with them are things you will cherish forever.

About The Author

James Lavell is a family guidance councilor and experienced stepdad of three. He helps lots of families and stepparents/children every day that are struggling to come together and get along.

Copyright: nadezhda1906 / 123RF Stock Photo

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