Tips for new stepparents

When you marry someone with kids, you get the wonderful opportunity to be a stepparent. While this prospect may be exciting, it can also be challenging. Learning how to provide love without crossing boundaries can be difficult at times. 

It may take some time and effort in order to determine your role as a stepparent. You may encounter some conflict with your spouse, stepchildren and any ex-partners. But the journey is worth it. Here are some suggestions on how to adapt to being a stepparent. 

Take it slow

You may want to establish a close bond with your stepchildren as quickly as possible, but trying to do this too quickly can often backfire. It can take some time for stepchildren to warm up. Think of your initial role as being a caring adult, such as a mentor or loving family member. Let your closeness develop naturally. 

Accept boundaries and limitations

As a stepparent, you must come to terms with the fact that your new children may never quite see you in the same way they see their biological parents. If you attempt to take the place of the other parent, it can lead to resentment. Do not ask or demand that your stepchildren call you “Dad” or “Mom.” You can still develop a loving and respectful bond – just try not to cross important boundaries

Consider adoption

Merging two families can be tricky, but going through the legal process to make it official can go a long way. Adopting your stepchildren can help everyone go through the transition of blending the family. The adoption process provides you, your spouse and your stepchildren with a sense of stability. With this formality, you get legal status as a parent, which allows you to easily deal with physicians and school administrators. Plus, it ensures you get custody if you ever end your marriage with your new spouse.