Being a step-parent can be a challenging but very rewarding experience, if you know how to approach it with a positive attitude. There are many obstacles that can trip you up in getting along with your step-children, and there are a few strategies that you can use to make things easier.
One of the first strategies to consider is how you are going to establish your relationship with your step-children. Two of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to either be too strict or be a best friend. The smart thing to do is to approach the situation by establishing clear boundaries from the beginning. You don’t have to be a tyrant, but you also don’t want to be just a friend. Parents have to make tough decisions that children don’t often like. A friend cannot make these choices and set boundaries.
When you have to discipline, do it as a team with your spouse. Being on the same page with each other prevents inconsistent consequences, misunderstandings and related issues. By supporting and approaching a behavior issue as a team, your children will learn to respect you more and take you what you say to heart better. This requires good communication and strategy between the two of you. Children may go one parent to get a yes when the other one says no. Communication can help to keep things consistent and running smoothly.
Spending quality time with your step-kids will show that you care about them and are genuinely interested in their lives. Do activities that both of you like and spend time talking as much as possible. Be open to their questions and always be honest. Many times children will test you, and honesty is always the best policy. If you are not comfortable answering a question, tell them so. These little tests serve the purpose of seeing if you care and if you will be around for a long time. If you have patience and are willing to listen, your relationships will be more rewarding.
The best thing that you can do is to not be too hard on yourself. Being a step-parent is a challenge, and you are going to make mistakes. When you do, just admit it and give yourself a break. Ask your spouse for help with a particular problem, talk to a friend or family member. If you bottle up your frustration, it will affect your relationships with your family. Be open about how you feel and be persistent. Eventually your step-children will see that you do care and will form a lasting bond with you that will benefit you both. If you are still struggling with certain problems, try taking a parenting class or joining a step-parent support group. From these resources you can learn a number of valuable tactics to help you be successful.