Many separated or divorced parents make the decision to move on with their lives and seek meaningful relationships. When remarrying or deciding to be in a committed relationship, their partners take on a role of a stepparent.
Being a stepparent can be very overwhelming, challenging, and rewarding. But when a stepparent isn't supported, included on respected they could feel like the odd man out and problems and resentment start to seep into your relationship. Being the odd man out for the stepparent can feel like they are on constant pins and needles with the kids and you as their partner because they are trying to find their place and their voice in your co-parenting situation.
With the children, their needs, trying to manage the co-parenting relationship, and your own needs, the stepparent and their needs can unnoticeably take a backseat. Here are 3 tips to make sure that the stepparent feels connected and included.
Nurture Your Relationship
Stepparents need the reassurance that the co-parenting situation working for the betterment of the family unit and validation and recognition of their place in their household and in their spouse's life. Make time for each other when you can maintain your connection.Unity within the couple's relationship bridges the emotional gap between the stepparent and stepchildren and positions both adults to lead the family.
Communicate! Then Communicate Some More.
Just as the lines of communication is imperative for co-parents, it is also important for stepparents and their partners. Rather than being silent in their resentment, stepparents should express their need to have their contributions recognized and acknowledged (Grace, Elizabeth, 2017). Stepparents can find it hard to find their barrings and need to be able to talk with their partners on how they feel, how to address issues that come up with the children, and what their role looks like as a stepparent where everyone is feels validated and their needs are being met.
Just a little Respect.
Respect is a big part of the foundation of any relationship. Just as your relationship took the time to grow and flourish it will take time for the stepparent and child to bond. Respecting the process, having discussions about the new family unit and how it will be managed is key to building a strong foundation. A stepparent will have their own views, values, and beliefs that they will bring to the relationship and those should be respected and acknowledged. But as parents and partners communication about how parenting, discipline, and co-parents should be handled will be ongoing and partners must come to an agreement they are comfortable with implementing in their daily lives. Another important aspect of respect is between the stepparent and the child. Both the child and the stepparent should show each other a level of respect. This is always best displayed rather than verbalized because children do as you do not as you say--usually. If a child feels safe with the stepparent and not pushed into a relationship with them respect comes a little bit easier. Stepparents also must display respect for the children and the other parent (your ex) by being considerate of boundaries, communicating with honesty, and helping to keep the peace.
Although step-parenting can be difficult it can also be rewarding and help to create loving connections. Stepparents should be acknowledged for their roles, heard, included in decisions and planning, and the marriage or romantic relationship should be nurtured to make sure that your relationship and family unit is solid.
Grace, Elizabeth (2017, May 27). Dealing with Feelings of Resentment as a Stepparent. Being a Stepparent. Retrieved from http://www.beingastepparent.co.uk/dealing-with-feelings-resentment-stepparent.html
Deal, Ron (2002). Stepparenting: It Takes Two. Focus on the Family. Retrieved from http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/single-blended-family-parenting/blended-families/stepparenting-it-takes-two