How to Adjust to Being a First Time Step-Parent

How to Adjust to Being a First Time Step-Parent

As a first time step-parent you should be open-minded about parenting responsibilities. Your partner obviously has more experience than you, and there may be particular things they expect that you are uncomfortable with. You should know beforehand where the lines are for you and for your partner. Sit down with him or her to discuss what is expected from you and from the child whose life you have entered. Depending on the age of your new step-child you may have more hands on parental responsibilities or you may function more as a friend and mentor. This expectation depends on both the parent and the child's needs.

Secondly you should be prepared to handle the other birth parent. If the birth mother or father is in the picture then they may also have expectations of what are and aren't your responsibilities. If you are parenting a toddler then they may be uncomfortable with you being too hands on with certain activities or they may expect that you act in a similar care capacity as a daytime caregiver would. Additionally, if you are parenting an adolescent or teen there are many subjects such as sexuality, religion, or culture that the other parent may feel are not your place to discuss. Both you and your partner should have these conversations with the other birth parent if possible to prevent friction.
In addition you should be aware that in the first few months of your position as a step parent you may face rebellion, confusion, and anger from your new step-child. This is normal. Try not to take their actions to heart as they are most likely feeling displaced. As a step-child they are faced with betraying the other parent if they like you or angering your partner if they don't. This is a confusing time and the best way to strengthen your relationship is to be understanding. Find ways to connect with them by showing interest in their life.

Finally, be aware that your position is changing and evolving constantly. Just like a child's birth parent your relationship may change almost daily. Children are growing and learning who they are, so take the challenges day by day. Your relationship with your partner will also grow and change as you bond with your step-child. Failure to bond may put strain on your relationship, but a growing bond with your step-child will only grow your partner's feelings. If you run into serious or long-term issues you may seek family counseling services to help enable growth.


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