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Tips for Being a Step-Parent


The number one cause for break-ups in second or third marriages is children. For many, the stigma of being a step-parent is too much. When kids think of a step-mother, they conjure images of evil and ruthless authority like the woman in Cinderella. What these children don’t know, is that step-parents can be dear and precious authority that can step in and take the place or a mother or father that was not able to care for his or her children. If you are going to be step-parent, and are worried about how to care for your new children, remember that you shouldn’t try to replace their mom or dad. Instead, remember that you do not have a biological tie to the children, and probably can’t take the place of a parent that does.

Instead, you should carefully move into their lives, without expecting immediate love and attention. Many step-parents want their kids to immediately connect with them, but this probably won’t happen. You should also have frequent and concrete discussions with your spouse about your role in his or her kids’ lives. Your spouse probably knows the kids a lot better than you do, and can help you to strategize about how to slowly move into their lives. You should also be sensitive to your step-children’s ages.

For example, teens are often opposed to affection form a step-parent, but a three-year-old child may welcome you with open arms. Even if you don’t respect your child’s biological parent, never try to bash that person in front of the kids. Chances are that they will readily abandon their loyalty to you in lieu of a biological parent. As well, you need to be prepared to take time with these new children. Your relationship may take years to develop. By being cautious, careful, and calculating with your step-kids, you have a better chance of cultivating a satisfying relationship with them and avoiding conflicts that could eventually lead to a divorce from your spouse.