Becoming a stepparent can bring with it many challenging emotions such as inadequacy, frustration and heartbreak, but also happiness, accomplishment, joy and many more emotions.
If you are marrying into a blended family or marrying a spouse with one or more children, you may not have any idea what you are about to experience. You can, however, learn some things to make the transition into a blended family easier.
Here are a few mistakes some stepparents make when taking on this new role:
- Bad-mouthing the ex. It may be tempting to bad-mouth your new spouse’s ex, but try and resist this temptation. Your step-child may think the world of this person, and the ex is still the biological parent. Better to not put yourself at odds unnecessarily with someone the child adores and has an important relationship with.
- Assuming the role of parent. Some new stepparents may try to fill the gap in the family left by the ex-spouse. But remember, this person may be an ex-spouse, but he or she is not an ex-parent. You are also not a biological parent, and you never will be. What role can you fill that would be helpful to the child and more realistic for you to achieve? Perhaps pursuing being a sort of mentor or friend might be a more realistic approach.
- Expecting the road will get easier. You may always have challenges. Expecting the role of stepparent to be an ongoing developing role over the rest of your lifetime might be a better approach rather than expecting to cross some imaginary finish line where everything is resolved. Changing these expectations may be the better approach.
If you make mistakes along the way of developing this important relationship, don’t be too hard on yourself. You are only human. Do your best. If you are considering adoption as a stepparent, an experienced family law attorney can answer your questions about the process and pitfalls of adoption.
What tips do you have for someone who is a new stepparent or about to be one?