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How to Be a Good Stepparent


Although becoming a parent by marrying someone with children or blending families can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, forming a bond with a stepchild can be quite challenging.

The early years of the relationship can be tough. Not only are new couples getting to know one another and developing chemistry, there are relationships with biological and stepchildren that require nurturing as well. So what can you do to build a healthy, loving bond between your new stepchildren?

The following are some helpful tips to become a good stepparent:

  • Slow and steady wins the race – While you have a desire to form a closer bond with your stepchild immediately, start slow and try not to rush things. Let the bond between you and your stepchild form naturally because kids can tell when adults are being fake or insincere.
  • Get on the same parenting page with your new spouse – You and your new spouse need to discuss parenting methods and come to an agreement about the house rules. When both parents are in accord, the transition for the children involved in the new marriage is much easier.
  • Let the biological parent discipline their child – Once the rules are established, allow the biological parent to take the lead in exercising discipline. You can avoid a build-up of resentment by doing so.
  • Prepare yourself for the “you’re not my real parent” situation – This scenario is inevitable, so try to get it out of the way as soon as possible. You must be clear and confident about who you are. Additionally, be ready to admit what you and your stepchild already know by saying something along the lines of, “That is correct. And I don’t plan on replacing your mom/dad. But I do expect you to follow the rules when I’m the one in charge.”
  • Encourage your stepchild to spend one-on-one time with both of their biological parents – Unfortunately, some parents feel threatened by their stepchild spending alone time with their spouse’s ex. But when stepparents are supportive of their stepchildren’s ongoing relationship with their biological parents, they’re telling the kids that their love and affection isn’t part of a competition.
  • Create new family traditions – Find fun and meaningful activities to do with your stepchild. Family traditions can include playing sports, bike riding, board game nights, cooking, doing arts and crafts, or even playing video games together. The main idea is to have fun together, not try to win your stepchild’s favor.
  • Have family meetings to resolve issues – When problems occur, get the family together to openly discuss how they might be resolved. Give your stepchild a voice when it comes to family decisions.

No matter the situation, there will be bumps along the road. Never give up trying to make things work, despite a rocky start. Take your time to get to know your stepchild better and be the best parent you can be.

For more information, contact our Dutchess County family law attorney at the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC today.