Step-parents 101: How to be a good step-parent

How to not be an evil step-parent as portrayed in fairy tales!

By Rebecca jones
Step-parents 101: How to be a good step-parent

Becoming a step-parent is sometimes viewed as an extremely difficult task, some might be true and others not. A lot of people have these assumptions that being a step-mom automatically means you are evil or cruel to your step-kids, or that you don’t love and treat them equally as you treat your biological child. Come to think of it, a lot of movies, storybooks and cartoons have contributed to the evil persona step-moms we always get.

Remember Cinderella? Well, some might be true but sometimes a lot of it is exaggerated. Becoming a mom is an important role in every woman’s life, and when that happens, women automatically believe it is part of their identity and genetic makeup, therefore, channeling and sharing that huge role with another woman is like losing their identity, and can be extremely challenging. Even though step-parents are not your biological parents, they handle and share a lot of responsibilities just as your biological ones.

They live in the same space with you and coexist as one big equal family. A lot of the time You hear step-parents professing their love for their step-kids and loving them just as much as they love their own biological kids, hard to believe right? But it’s very true. For a biological mom, seeing another woman loving your child that much is great, but can be hard and threatening, cause deep down inside, you honestly want that whole space all to yourself. 

Role of a step-parent - Debunk the myth of the controlling step-parent

Even though it’s undeniable that parenting another person’s child like yours is stressful, mostly because the child sometimes perceives you negatively or holds you accountable for the breakage of his or her parent's relationship. Loving you and accepting you as his or her parent will be like betraying or not staying Loyal to their biological parents. Well, you can change that persona by personally working on yourself and your relationship with your step-kids. Let them be aware by showing them not just in words but in action that you love and care for them. 

Sometimes tension arises between the child and step-parent relationship because we both don’t understand our limitations and boundaries. As a step-parent, your love should be genuine and selfless, but at the same time be understanding that the biological parents will always have a special place in the kid's life. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you, but it’s just human nature, and that’s okay. When it comes to discipline and responsibilities, always be open by having an honest discussion with the child and the biological parent on what is required and what’s expected. Don’t assume you automatically know or that your ways are always best, be understanding but most importantly be patient. 

Step-parents vs Biological Parents

Step-parent

A step-parent is basically a partner to one of your biological parent who is stepping in to help rear, take care and be responsible for you just as your biological parents would.

Biological parent

A biological parent in your birth parent, a person who has given birth to you and you share the same biological makeup. He or she is responsible for loving, guiding, nurturing and being there for you for as long as life permits it.

A lot of heat is being thrown at the step-parenting role because, to be honest, it is an extremely difficult role and task, but with hard work, dedication, love, and patience, all things are possible. The step-parent is basically a partner to a biological parent who is helping your mom or dad in parenting you to the best of their ability. You might not agree with all of their ways, but it’s important to recognize, appreciate and applaud their great effort. With a lot of marriage ending in divorce lately, it is said that 50% of marriages in America end up in divorce, which means most people will end up executing the role of step-parents and guardians to kids that aren’t biological theirs.

When are you overstepping boundaries?

Sometimes in the quest of doing right, we end up airing as step-parents. We get comfortable taking care of other kids like ours to an extent where we overstep our boundaries without even realizing it.

Below are some few examples of some of the boundaries step-parents need to not cross in regards to parenting their step-kids:

1. Don’t talk badly about any of their parents

Trust me, this is a subject you don’t want to touch on. A child might be very lovey-dovey with you, but the minute you start bad mouthing his or her parents, you will lose a great amount of respect from them. 

2. Discipline

Don’t allow yourself to get caught in an argument with a child or get furious over things, even though sometimes parenting entails losing your cool, try as much as possible to stay calm and be the adult in the situation. Speak to your spouse about the disrespect and let it be the one to handle it, choose a punishment or how to discipline them.

3. Do not compete with your step-child

Some step-parents have the habit of competing for the attention of their spouse with their step-kids. They get jealous or angry when they see their spouse spending quality time or being attentive to their step-kids. Do not allow yourself to fall victim.

4. Disrespecting the wish and decision of the biological parent

Well, even though you will want to do things your own way, and run your house based on your terms, with step-kids, it’s important to always put into consideration the wishes and demands of the ex- in regards to their biological child with your partner. Disrespecting or going against their requests can sometimes cause friction and conflict.

5. Getting involved in the parenting decision

As a step-parent, allow your spouse to figure it out alone with his ex without getting involved or dropping your opinions, especially if it isn’t needed. 

Quotes of step-parents

The new-come step-mother hates the children born to a first wife."      

- Euripides
 

“ We aren't "step", we aren't "half", we're just family.''      

- unknown
 

Step-parents can be awesome. Because their love is a choice.'' 

- unknown
 

“ Step-parenting and being a step-sibling presents a lot of exciting opportunities. When families break up and reform, there may be less order, less certainty, and a bit more trauma involved, but kids can end up having half-a-dozen parent figures."      

- Morris Gleitzman
 

Step-parenting is like working at a late-night convenience store...all of the responsibility and none of the authority."       

- Valerie J Lewis Coleman
 

“ A step-parent is so much more than just a parent; they made the choice to love when they didn't have to."      

- unknown
 

“ Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a step-dad. ''

- Unknown
 

Step-parents are not around to replace a biological parent, rather augment a child's life experience."      

- Azriel Johnson
 

“ Parenthood requires love, not DNA."      

- unknown
 

“ Intimacy between stepchildren and stepparents is indeed proverbially difficult."      

- Murasaki Shikibu
 

Families don't have to match. You don't have to look like someone else to love them." 

- Leigh Anne Tuohy

Related Article: 15 Fun Family Activities for some simple bonding session
15 Fun Family Activities for some simple bonding session
Bond over these family activities over weeknights or weekends

Summary

The role of a parent is naturally challenging, having another person take that role is surely difficult. Step-parents get a lot of bad names and reps for taking care of kids that aren’t biologically theirs. They step in to help their partners or spouse in discharging the role of a parent. The media has contributed to portraying step-parents as villains or wicked individuals whose mission is simply to torture and destroy step-kids. It’s always important to help encourage kids and step-parents to embrace and love each other as one, and break the stereotype by making movies and creating awareness on how awesome blended family is and that not all step-parents or step-kids are evil. The ex’s or the biological moms also need to to be a little more understanding towards the step-moms, by not giving them a hard time and also being open-minded and appreciative especially when you can tell they really care for the child. 

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