When you decide to get involved in the lives of your partner’s children, in some ways, you have decided to step into the shoes of her ex-partner too. The road is often fraught with difficulties, but if you are sensitive and compassionate while dealing with your stepchildren, you just might form the most beautiful bond in your life.
Parenting is a challenging task and when you have decided to become actively involved in the life of your partner’s children, the road ahead becomes much more steep and high. There is the shadow of the biological father looming large.
The child’s sense of being suddenly dislocated from his place of comfort, a sense of rivalry and lot of emotional baggage are the aspects a step-dad has to deal with. The role of a stepfather is often ambiguous and calls for a lot of learning, unlearning and evolving along the way. Yet at the end of the day, it is rewarding if you equip yourself mentally, emotionally and physically to deal with it.
Tips That May Come in Handy when The Going Gets Tough
1. Realize That Each Kid is Unique
Every kid is unique and has a different type of emotional baggage to carry. Also, kids have limited exposure and are still raw from their past wounds and scars. One kid might form an instantaneous bond with you, while the other might look at you with suspicion and choose to disobey you at every step. One sibling might actually look forward to considering you as a father figure, while the other one might actually resent you for usurping his father’s invisible yet strong presence in his mother’s life.
2. There is No Standard Rule for Being a Stepdad
Being a step-dad comes with preparing yourself for a whole lot of adjustments and shifts in perspective. You will need to sit with your partner and decide what would be your role in the upbringing of her children. This would enable both of you to enter into the relationship with a clear vision of your mutual expectations. It would also clear misunderstandings and save you both from much heartache at a later date.
3. Your Partner Might be The “Yes” Mom
This is the most difficult part and requires a lot of tact and delicacy on your part. If your partner has been a single mother for the major part of her life, you could find her saying “Yes” to most of her children’s wants. Perhaps by doing this, she is trying to assuage her guilt for separating her children from their father. Here, you would probably have to wait for the right time to step in and intervene. Intervening with an urgency and correcting your partner will create a bigger rift between you and your stepchildren.
Being a loving stepfather does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of patience, nurturing, giving and unconditional sharing. On difficult days, you might have to step back to avoid conflict. On good days, you can whip up a quick snack for your kids, teach them how to change tires and demonstrate to them that you would be a constant support system in their lives. Remember, a step-dad cannot undo the past, but he can certainly build a happy cheerful future for his stepchildren.