Being a step-parent can be rewarding, but it also has its challenges. Learning to live as a new family takes time and good communication.
Here are some tips for surviving as a step-parent. Listen to your children. Give them the individual attention they need, when they need it. Children can feel discarded and overlooked when two families unite in the one house.
- Don’t try to force relationships. Give step-parenting the time it needs to develop. You are building new relationships, not replacing old ones.
- Work as a team. It is important that you support your new partner’s way of interacting with the children. Deal with discipline issues together and be consistent in how you treat all your children.
- Encourage open discussions. Children need a chance to express their frustrations and concerns about new living arrangements, but encourage them to do it in front of the other family members.
- Respect their privacy. Make sure each child gets time to themselves. If the new arrangements mean they have to share a bedroom with another sibling, make sure they get some time in their room alone.
- Develop new traditions. When two families come together in a new home, new rules and traditions should be discussed from the beginning.
- Speak well of your former partner and your current partner’s ‘ex’. Always encourage interaction with the other parents and never speak negatively of them.
- Be realistic about what you can achieve. Parents need to look after themselves while a new family is forming. Make time for each other, away from the kids.
- Enlist outside help. Never leave one of the older children in charge of the other children when you go out. Invest in a good babysitter so there are no issues with power or authority.
- Accept that handovers for part-time stepfamilies may not go smoothly. Allow time for this by being flexible about drop-off times, even if it means getting takeaway for dinner that night.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Better Health Channel
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