Step Parenting: Becoming the Best Step Parent You Can Be

Step parenting ...

... can be tricky, but it is also an opportunity to create a family of love and choice. While you chose your spouse, you didn't choose his kids, but they come with the package. In this article, you will learn how to consciously develop a better relationship with your step kids.

As a step parent myself, I know from experience that the process involves creating a relationship over time. However, distant, rebellious or unreasonable your step children seem, trust that you can create a relationship with them that is based on love and mutual respect. Although you will never be as bonded to your step children as you are to your own children, it is possible to create a caring relationship. As my husband often says, "It's not where you start, it's where you finish."

Essential Step Parenting Advice:

  • Your mission is to create a relationship with your step children that is separate from your spouse. Understand that your step children may be reluctant to embrace you because they may feel that doing so means betraying their birth parent. Make it clear that you are not trying to replace their mother or their father—you want to have a relationship of your own.

  • One bit of step parenting advice that adults often struggle with is how to discipline their step children. Kids may reject your attempts to tell them what to do. This is because discipline is not about telling children what to do, it is about guiding them to make healthy choices on their own. If you understand this concept, you will not have problems with issues related to discipline.

  • Although it may tempting to create a peer-like relationship with your step children, it should be less about being a friend, than being a guide and mentor. You still have to be the adult in the situation, but this does not mean that you can't have fun or be a confidante. In fact, since you are not your step child's birth parent, they may feel more comfortable confiding in you. Respect these confidences, but know when a confidence requires action or is a cry for help. Pay attention to admissions about participating in behaviors that could be dangerous to the child or others.

  • Help your step children put their parent's divorce in perspective if asked. If there is fighting between the child's birth parents, do your best to reserve your judgment. Rather than taking sides, be a sounding board—a safe haven for the child to express his or her feelings of anger, fear and sadness. If you make the mistake of taking sides, no matter what the circumstances, the child will rise to her parent's defense out of loyalty and you will be alienated once again.

Step parenting is a journey of discovery. Over time, as the glue of shared experience cements, you will come to love your step children as your own and they will accept you into their hearts. If you've taken the time to connect with them on a level that engages them for who they are and what they love in life, you will have created a real relationship that breaks the mold of what it means to be a step parent.

NEW!If you have questions or need advice, feel free to post them on our parenting step children message boards. You can also reply to the requests for advice from other step parents.

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About the Author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting . Her book combines ancient native secrets with current day psychology to show parents (and step parents!) how to raise children to develop their natural strengths and lead uniquely purposeful and fulfilling lives. She lives with her husband and two children in the sage-dotted Nevada foothills and is a step parent and step grandparent. Ms. Ramirez is available for speaking engagements. To find out about her speaking fee and availability use the Contact Us link to the left to send us information about your upcoming event.

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Copyright © 2006 Laura Ramirez. All rights reserved. This article may not be copied in full or in part without the express written permission of the author, however, you may link to this article from your web site.

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