what you say;
how you say it and;
how you act
You have no control over what the other parent may say or do.
Being consistent, firm and fair may be more of an uphill battle than you had bargained for but the dividends will pay off down the track.
Stepchildren and your partner will see that if you have been implementing these three things then you are being consistent rather than chopping and changing in an attempt to be the ‘cool’ step parent.
I entered the step parenting world at 32 with no children of my own and the concept of children being just that – a concept rather than a daily reality. It is fair to say that the preconceptions I had in my mind about what it means to be a good step parent were actually the biggest challenge to being a good step parent.
It is hard work, and sometimes unrewarded hard work.
In the beginning you are faced with many spot fires on many fronts. If the relationship between you partner and his ex is toxic, you will be caught in the firing line no matter how nice you may be! If faced with this situation, the best way to handle it is to try as hard as you can to not take in personally.
Many new step parents completely shelve their existing commitments in their life believing that becoming an active, hands-on, fully involved step parent will show to everyone that they are not a wicked witch with a broom who will give their step-kids bread and water and lock them in a Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs.
However, with this full-on approach you will simply be expending so much mental and physical energy that you will just end up feeling emotionally exhausted and stressed out.
Worrying about opinions of your partner, his/her family, their siblings, their parents, the ex, let alone the actual stepchildren will make you sick. And that will make you of little or no use to the people you actually care about – your step kids and your partner.
Many of the people around you in the new blended family often have unrealistic views and opinions themselves regarding the actual reality of step parenting.
Their grandchild or niece/nephew may have been the apple of their eye since they were born, but how the child acts in your company as a step parent is a whole new kettle of fish.
No one wants to hear that their angel is a little devil when they aren’t watching!
Step parenting is a difficult conundrum, some step-children love having a new step parent, others think it is ‘the worst thing ever’. Most have mixed feelings. And those feelings can vary from moment to moment. After all they are just kids trying to make sense of a new and complicated situation.
So, back to the question: Are you a good step parent?
Every apple in a bag is an apple but each one has its differences, perfections and blemishes.
Being a good step parent is not worrying about whether your step children like you. In time they will work it out.
Being a good step parent is also not worrying about what others think. Their opinion really doesn’t matter.
Just be yourself, be consistent, trust yourself and within your four walls you will create your own blended family that will answer the question for you.
Is the author of “Step Parenting with Purpose; Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask”.
This book provides invaluable insights and advice to those beginning or already on their journey in the step parenting/blended family world. It recently attained a number 1 ranking on Amazon.
It is also available from her website, which during Covid-19 disruptions to deliveries is very useful.
Karalee is a mother of 3 children and stepmother of 2 young adults. Karalee is also a sought-after news and current affairs commentator on television, radio, a regular columnist and a senior executive media trainer.