Step Kids and Parenting

Statistics show that subsequent marriages quite often end in divorce, and it is no wonder why. The majority of succeeding marriages include step kids, and the issues regarding step kids can be a great source of problems for couples.

Step kids can be jewels in the binding of a marriage, or they can be thorns. There are ways to deal with and avoid step parenting problems before they begin.

Rules and the Evil Stepparent

Everyone has a different way of parenting, and when you became a part of the family, many rules and habits were already long established. You may not agree with the rules, or lack thereof, but unless someone or something is in immediate danger, don’t worry about the situation. The surest way to create a rift in the family is by insisting on immediately changing the rules in the middle of the game. You will do nothing more than create resentment, not only with your step kids, but also between you and your spouse. Keep in mind, the family you stepped into survived long before you became a part of it.

Don’t enter into a family and expect step kids to immediately adapt to your parenting style. Talk to your spouse if you have a problem or concern before confronting your step kids. Let he or she act as the “bad guy” if it becomes necessary to confront kids regarding household rules. The statement, “blood is thicker than water,” is truer than you think, and if you come off as a dictator you won’t accomplish anything other than causing hard feelings.

The Defensive Parent

Parents naturally become defensive when their kids are threatened. When they feel their kids are being treated unfairly or picked on, they will come to their defense, sometimes even if the kids are clearly wrong. The parent knows the stepparent more than likely does not have the same feelings of parental love for their kids, so they want to protect them from injustice. They are unsure if the negativity of the stepparent comes from a genuine concern for the child, or from resentment for that child.

Stays out of issues the parent can handle. You may be getting bent out of shape for something your spouse feels is trivial. If he or she chooses not to handle an issue you see as important, discuss why it is important to you. Don’t play the game, “guess what I’m mad about now.” There will never be a winner.

The Irritating Child

There is no perfect child, and some children are challenging to say the least, but if a step child constantly gets on your nerves for no apparent reason, you need to take a step back and ask yourself why. Are you being fair to this child? If the child were biologically yours, would you feel the same way? Do you have the arrogance to believe if the child were yours, he or she wouldn’t even behave that way to begin with?

Sometimes people forget to see the child as an individual with a unique personality. Instead they see traits, expressions, and even the behavior of their spouse’s ex. Even if that ex never did anything wrong, the stepparent sometimes harbors ill feelings toward that person, and it unfairly extends to the children. Don’t make this mistake. See the child as an individual, and not as the child of an enemy.

Picking on a child unfairly, for whatever reason, is emotional abuse. The innocent child is treated unfairly, and the parent who loves that child is also emotionally hurt again and again. Eventually either the child will be pushed out the door by a parent not willing to protect him or her, or the stepparent will be pushed out the door when the parent has had enough.

Finding a Happy Medium

Don’t make the mistake of trying to take the place of the absent parent. No matter how hard you try, or how tactfully you handle delicate situations, you cannot take his or her place. You may not even want to be an actual parent to your step kids, but on the other hand, don’t think you can just be their friend either. It will take time, but eventually you will find a happy medium where you are respected as a parental figure, but also accepted as a friend.

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