So here you are, married, with children. Or should I say, married with HIS(Her) children. Did I mention, that they looked much cuter before the ceremony. Everything seems like a chore nowadays. Things that use to be fun to do together are a hassle. Now, it is a constant struggle over who is going to get Dad’s (Mom’s) attention, when, and how much more money does the “X” want now. You wonder how you could feel this way. You love kids. Your own kids can be great. Other people’s kids can be great too, especially since they go home at night. Nothing these little adorable creatures ever did use to bother you. Now it seems like all you think about is how long they will be here this time, and how many more years until age eighteen. You have all the symptoms and know all the problems. What you need are the
Do’s and Don’ts of Stepparenting.
1. Do communicate effectively. Communication is the number one key element that can make or break a relationship. Communication is important in all relationships but an absolute must in step- relationships. Do discuss all incidents/problems that bother you when you are both calm and relaxed. Do choose a setting that is conducive to talking. Always start out with positive remarks. State your “gripes” positively. Do present your concern in the form of a dilemma with a question rather than an accusation. Example: You don’t like the way his/her kids throw there things all over the house. So find something that they do well and say: “I really like the way Jack plays soccer. How could we have him move that fast to clean up after himself?” In this manner no one is offended and your point is made.
2. Do have patience, patience, and more patience. Relationships do not just happen overnight. Children as well as adults need time to adjust to new situations. Patience is the most important virtue in a step-relationship. Practice, practice, practice.
3. Do have an attitude of gratitude. Don’t take anything for granted. Biological parents: make it a habit to show appreciation to your spouse for each and every thing he/she does for you and/or your children. A little note thanking them, a simple smile thanking them, flowers. Do whatever it takes to let them know how much they are appreciated. Don’t put it off or fall into the trap of thinking they already know how much you appreciate it. Tell them. Do teach your children to be appreciative for everything anyone does for them also. (Children learn from their parents, remember). Don’t expect your spouse to do things for your children, but show appreciation when he/she does.
4. Do make time alone a priority for you and your spouse. Don’t count on the “X” to take the children when you need time alone. How many times do you know of when the “X” change their plans not to accommodate you of course. Do put more effort into planning for time alone. You will become refreshed with a little break from the children and they will too. Take time for yourself too. Don’t become a martyr.
5. Do Forgive and Forget. The step-relationship is like a rose. The child does one thing wrong and a petal falls off. The next time two pedals fall off. The next time three pedals fall off. Soon all you can see are the thorns. However, if you look closely, you can see buds forming in place of the thorns. Do make a conscientious effort to forget the little things and forgive the big things. Change your focus from what the children do wrong to what they do right. Compliment them on the behavior you like and they will seek more compliments. Don’t carry grudges or you surely won’t find the buds.
6. Do form a united front with your spouse. Back up each other when it comes to discipline or any other matter concerning the children. Don’t let the children put a wedge between you and your spouse by setting you up against each other. Many children have a subconscious dream to reunite their biological parents. They may believe that this can be accomplished by trying to set you two against each other by using themselves as the patsy. Don’t give them any help. Do discuss matters that concern the children or the “other” parent out ear shot range. Remember little children do have big ears.
7. Don’t expect and fantasize about the fairy tale relationship. You know the one where everyone instantly loves everyone else and lives happily ever after. Frustrations stem from expectations. The less you expect the less frustration you will experience. Not everyone is an authority on your relationship, although many will try. Do go with what you believe, not what others might tell you or you may dream. And Don’t expect it to be instantly all roses.
8. Do let the biological parent discipline. The children may resent the stepparent’s mere presents. Therefore, don’t add fuel to the fire by having the stepparent responsible for the disciplining. The rose only flutters in the eyes of the biological parents, but tears in the step-relationship. Don’t let the step-relationship be a “cop-out” for disciplining your adolescent and used as a crutch. Adolescence is a difficult stage which affects all family members. It is compounded in stepfamilies because of the other dynamics involved. Do discipline your teenagers children. Don’t give up on them.
9. Do go with the flow. Flexibility is a great asset especially in the sensitive step-relationship. Do learn to search for something good when plans have to be changed at the last minute. If you bend you will not break.
10. Do have a sense of humor. Lighten up. When things have really gotten out of hand, think of how you will laugh at it in about ten years. Why wait? It can be just as funny today!
Bonus: Try imagining yourself in other family members’ position. How would you like to be treated? What can you do to improve how they feel? What can you do to improve the situation? Who is the adult? The old saying still stands… Do onto others as you would have done onto yourself. Fair means to your children, spouse’s children, spouse and yourself. Remember children do learn by imitating. Do make sure your behavior is worthy of it.
Get the Stepparent Survival Manual (Step-Parenting 101: The Crash Course for Stepparents). This book is meant to make you think, decide, and take action. It’s time to take control of your life rather than complaining about your situation controlling you. If you are serious about surviving and enjoying your life, get the survival manual for stepparents… Step-Parenting 101: The Crash Course for Stepparents and DO the exercises . It is your life. It is your choice .