Monday, May 27, 2013

Managing Step Relationships - Part 2 - Your Stepchildren

As discussed in part 1 of this mini-series, unlike first time partnerships, step-relationships present a number of challenges that require special management. We not only have to manage relating with our partner but also with his or her children. 

Today, we are looking at some important Do’s and Don’ts for more effective relating with our stepchildren.



Remember that relationships do not happen overnight. It takes time for people to get to know and like each other. This is just as true for your and your stepchildren as it is for anyone else.

DON’T expect your stepchildren to be overjoyed at suddenly having a step-parent in their lives.

DO give them as much time and space as they need, to slowly but surely get used to you. Remember that patience is a great virtue which is particularly true in a step-situation.


It’s important for most people to have a harmonious family environment.  In order to achieve this it is essential that you…

DON’T accept unacceptable behaviour. Stepchildren, just like all children, will test your limits and need to have a clear understanding of what these are.

DO ensure (with your partner’s assistance and support) that your stepchildren have a clear understanding of family rules and guidelines and that these are enforced.


As your stepchildren may be wary of you at the beginning of your step-journey it’s important that you…


*  Make too many changes that have a direct effect on their lives.
*  Expect more from them than they can give (this could be more recognition, more affection, more consideration etc).
*  Rush them as they are learning to accept you as an important person in their lives.

DO make a conscious effort to score brownie points by:

*  Being considerate of them.
*  Taking an interest in the things that interest them.
*  Doing things with them which they find enjoyable.


Stepchildren don’t tug on your biological heart strings in the same way as your own child would. In all stepfamilies there will be times when it’s vital to remember that, although the stepchildren aren’t your flesh and blood, they are flesh and blood of the person you love – your partner’s.

DON’T forget this fact, especially when you are in danger of running out of patience.

DO remember that loving your own children is due to human instinct - loving someone else’s children takes much patience, vision and hope.


All human beings respond to respect, appreciation, curtesy and kindness, so…

DON’T forget to be polite to your stepchildren. Be sure to say: “Please”, “Sorry” and “Thank you”!

DO praise them as much as you can – especially for acts of service and kindness.


DON’T forget that all children have an inbuilt sensor that detects fairness, therefore it is important that you ensure to ‘play fair’ and…

DO treat your biological and your stepchildren in similar ways.

1 comment:

Carrie Dale said...

Great Blog! I have been looking for something like this for months!
I'm looking for some support, validation and advice on how to deal with his two teen's mother and the ripples she is making here in our home.
His parenting type is very similar to mine, hers is a polar opposite. We have rules, family dinners, chores and consequences. We feel that extras like video games and going to sit down restaurants for dinner are treats while she takes them out for almost every meal and has no rules (as far as the kids have told us and what we observe)
I think my partner and I are in agreement that its ok that the households are separate and different. She can parent how she wants on her own time and in return, we expect the same respect.
This has not been the case. She can't believe we don't buy pop so that its available at all times to the children. She is shocked we don't have snacks(such as Doritos,chips etc.) for them to eat at their leisure. She doesn't condone us having a set chore schedule for the kids.
She has communicated her feelings on this subject with the kids and in the past 3 months has brought her two Taco Bell to eat at 3:45pm (I had a fun dinner of make your own pizza planned for that night and was 30 min away from starting the dough) She has given the kids crackers and chips to hide in their rooms (no food allowed in our upstairs) And just last night, had the 15 year old bring the 12 year old a container of brownies which they hid so "no one will eat them"
My partner has tried to talk with their mom and explain that she can do what she wants with them on her own time and to quit interfering with ours. She basically says he is a drill Sargent and needs to calm down, "Its just a brownie"
What she didn't know is that I treated the kids to Hawaiian Ice after strawberry picking and had a strawberry pie for dessert. She didn't need brownies on top of that.
I'm at a loss. She is not supporting us, and worse, she is invading his time with his kids.
What are we supposed to do with this!?