Step-parents are an increasingly common aspect of modern families. Nevertheless,
families still struggle with the complicated dynamic. Issues associated
with disciplining and co-parenting step-children, struggling for the acceptance
of a new family, and disputes with ex-partners, commonly arise. As a result,
research shows one-third of step-parents look forward to their step-children
leaving home, while two-thirds of step parents feel they likely will never
be accepted by their new family. Nearly 50% of step-parents admit that
such challenges nearly led to a break-up with their partner.
It is natural and common for children to feel resentment and reluctance
toward a step-parent; especially given most step-parents enter their step-children’s
lives during a period of significant turmoil for the children. Step-parents
take on the same commitment and difficulties as biological parents, often
without experiencing, at least initially, the benefits a biological parent
might. Focusing on the children’s needs above all can help build
loving, respectful relationships between a step-parent and step-child.
While step-parenting will always come with its challenges, there are approaches
a step-parent can take to put themselves in the best position possible
to develop a constructive relationship with their step-children. Maintaining
a cooperative and peaceable relationship among exes, as well as between
biological parents and step-parents, is critical. Discord and competition
between an ex and a new partner is one of the biggest barriers to a positive
relationship with step-children. Approaching difficult issues –
e.g. holidays, family events, visitation schedules, and conflicting parenting
styles – with fairness and open-communication can help both children
and parents navigate the unavoidable challenges inherent in a blended family.
here to read more about the challenges of step-parenting.