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Being a Step-Parent.
Here are some tips to help you ease into your relationship with your stepchild and your role as a step-parent.
Talk with your partner, ask your partner questions like:
What role do you want me to play with your child?
What should I do? What shouldn’t I do?
How will we know if it’s going well?
How will we give each other feedback without taking it too personally?
You can also think about what level of involvement you want and what feels comfortable to you.
Get to know your stepchild
Get to know your stepchild before you live together if you can. You could go on outings or do activities together like walking the dog, reading a book or watching a movie.
Or you could do practical things like helping your stepchild with homework, or driving him to meet friends. You could also ask your partner about your stepchild’s particular needs, likes and dislikes.
Focus on positives
Try to be accepting and positive towards your stepchild.
For example, you could point out when she does the right thing, or you could celebrate with a surprise cake when your stepchild does well at something.
Take things slowly
Take things at a pace that suits your stepchild. Don’t expect instant love or even like between you. In the early days settle for respect.
It usually works best in the first year or two if you spend time being supportive of your stepchild, but not taking on an active parenting role. It’s enough to be someone your stepchild can depend on to do the same things each week, like always taking him to sport on Saturdays. This will give your stepchild the chance to get to know and trust you.
Once you and your stepchild are comfortable with each other, you can take on more of a parenting role if that’s what you, your partner and your stepchild want.
Think about former partners
Your partner’s former partner might need time to adjust to you as a step-parent. It can be easier if you don’t have much involvement with your partner’s ex, at least at first.
It usually works best if the two parents talk about child care and other issues with each other, especially in the early years. But if your partner’s ex is happy to discuss arrangements with you, it’s fine if you and your partner also feel OK with that.
Over time you might get to know and like your partner’s ex and feel comfortable enough to share events like children’s birthdays or graduation celebrations.
Look after yourself
It’s also important to look after yourself. Spend time doing things that make you feel good and are good for you – for example, exercising, eating well, seeing friends and keeping up with interests and hobbies.
Donna Piromalli has been in private practice for approx. 6 years, helping individuals, couples and families.
She has extensive experience in couple and family therapy and is considered a specialist in these areas.
In her practice, she has helped people deal with complex trauma, affairs, complex mental health issues, adolescent behavioural problems behavioural issues in young children which are impacting parents and families, relationship issues and post-separation work.