Baby care: Being the step parent
Everyone comes with baggage and sometimes the baggage might just be children from a previous marriage. Being the step parent is never easy but in the 21st century, it happens more often than not, so know that you’re not the only one going through this, however hard it may be.
1. Talk it through
The first and most important thing to do is to make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page. In a family with step children, they are going to be your only support in any adverse situation so it’s important to have them by your side.
With your partner by your side, talk to the children. Make sure they know that you aren’t trying to replace their parent. You have the opportunity to make them look at you as a friend rather than a parent, so use it to your advantage.
2. Patience is key
You are the adult in this situation so make sure you act like one. Understand that it might be hard for the child to accept a new parent figure in their life, especially if they were close to your partner’s ex spouse. Depending on their age and the situation, children react in different ways. You may face hostility, indifference and if you’re lucky, acceptance. So go with the flow and do not be too pushy with the child. They’ll take their time to open up to you.
3. Alone time
Just as important as it is for you to spend some alone time with your spouse, it’s equally important for them to spend it with their child. Always give them space as they alone know what it’s like to be living without the other member of their family.
Make sure you and your stepchild spend enough time with each other as well, to get to know each other better and build a rapport. You can’t always count on your spouse to be your mediator.
It’s hard to impose rules on stepchildren and it may just leave you feeling awkward. But as many times as you may be faced with the ‘You’re not my real mom/dad’ rebuttal, you’ve got to stand your ground. Establish reasonable rules that you would impose on your own child and make sure they’re followed. Don’t feel embarrassed to point out mistakes to your stepchildren when they’re wrong, else as kids, they might use your hesitancy to their advantage. Sooner or later, they’ll come to terms with the fact that you have their best interests at heart.
5. Having your own child
After living with your partner, there might come a time when you realise you want a child of your own. Make sure your stepchild doesn’t feel neglected in this process, as they might already be dealing with a lot of emotions from the absence of their biological parent, to acceptance of a new sibling in their life. Try your best to raise your newborn in an environment where your stepchild is given the same importance as a biological sibling. It will just ensure a stronger bond between the two children.
Related Article: Parenting: Adoptive Parents