and the multitude of challenges that inevitably accompany this new, modern-day version of “normal.” However, anyone who has ever taken that step into step-families—whether child or parent—can relate to the fact that it is a mountain to climb. Add grandparents and other extended family members into the mix, and it can quickly become Mount Everest! If you are facing this new and exciting (and challenging!) family construct, here are some points to consider:
MO ST OF US TH E SE DAYS A R E N OT ST R A N G E R S TO STE P- FA M I LI E S
Don’t override or criticize. While you do want to create a positive, loving
relationship with your step-child, don’t try to compete with their biological parents. The kids may be feeling guilt in terms of the divorce itself as well as some level of guilt for developing a loving relationship with a step-parent. Let them know you support them and respect the relationship they have with their parents. Establish healthy boundaries.
Even though the biological parent should deliver the punishment, step-parents and stepchildren should still maintain a proper parent/ child relationship. It’s ok to be their friend, but you are still a parent and a role model and should be seen in that capacity.
Parents, not step-parents, should do the dirty work. Most experts
agree that it is dangerous territory for the step-parent to dole out the punishment. It is important to agree on household rules and discipline, but step-parents should take a back seat when it comes to being the disciplinarian. Create a special relationship with your stepchildren.
It can be a delicate and difficult balance to strike, but it is important to be an ally and supporter for your step-kids. Although you have to establish those healthy boundaries (as mentioned above), you still want to have their trust and to let them know you’re on their side. w
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