- Realize that you have chosen a difficult journey.
- Examine your expectations of how it should be and accept the reality of how it is.
- Make a list of the things you enjoyed doing pre step-parenting and ensure that you continue doing at least some of them.
- Make time for yourself (to nurture your soul!) – paint, write, play tennis, work out at the gym, listen to music - do something daily (no matter how small) that pleases you.
- Tune in to your feelings. Realize that disappointment, anger, hurt, confusion and rejection are feelings that are common to the step-parenting experience.
- Talk about these feelings to someone you trust – don’t bottle them up!
- Ensure that you release your stress in a healthy way - meditate, listen to relaxation tapes, jog or do whatever has worked for you in the past.
- Discover the positives in your situation and re-affirm them when the going gets tough.
- Celebrate every joyful moment!
- Recognise the importance of time spent alone together – away from your step-parenting responsibilities.
- Daily - find 15-20 minutes to talk about your day – share coffee, a pre-dinner drink, go for a walk …
- Weekly – spend an evening together (without the kids) - go to the movies, eat at a restaurant, share a candle-lit dinner at home…..
- Monthly – spend a day together - roam the city, go boating, fishing or swimming…..
- Yearly – Take a holiday together (without the children).
- Romance your partner. Be aware that romance is often the first victim in a stepfamily situation. Write love notes. Tell him how much he means to you.
- Let him know your feelings (about him, about the stepfamily situation, about life). Don’t hide your upsets, whether they are to do with him or to do with other issues. Be sure that you communicate in a non-blaming self-responsible way for instance “When you give your children all your attention and time, I feel left out and that hurts”.
- Remember that conflict is part of life – so don’t be afraid of it. Use the opportunity to discuss and work out your differences.
- Support each other.
- Remember that it wasn’t them who invited you to become part of their lives.
- Accept that your step-kids may not like you and that you may not be too fond of them either.
- Give them and yourself time to establish a relationship.
- Encourage them to express their
feelings, whatever they may be and remember that they don’t need you to
“fix” them, they just want you to “hear” them.
- Don’t take any hurtful things they say,
or their difficult behaviour, personally.
- Get as much information as possible about the challenges you are likely to encounter as a step-parent.
- Learn about the stages of child development, parenting and step-parenting.
- Seek out step-parenting information and/or support groups.
- Be patient and kind to them, even if they are hard to take.