Jennifer Johnstown-Jones, Ph.D.
New step families, it’s a challenging situation but it’s also a place to celebrate. The stepparent should not parent the child. This is very challenging. It’s a controversial subject. And there’s many experts who would say the opposite. Myself, I feel very, very strongly that a stepparent is a parent but when there are parenting conflicts, ultimately, the mother and father they should always precede the stepparent’s wishes of parenting, and that’s very important for the child.
There is a sort of a hierarchy when it comes to step parenting and although as a stepparent you might feel left out sometimes and second tier to the child’s birthmother or birthfather, that’s normal and that’s something that you need to accept. And there are some issues where especially if you come in later in life when the teachers are teens, you’ll never fully win them over and that’s okay. Stop trying to please. Stop trying to be another parent. Being a stepparent is entirely different than being a parent and just accepting that. It’s very, very important. And although if the mother is giving you parenting instructions that you don’t agree with, ultimately, you need to follow those because you are the stepparent.
The last tip I have for stepparents and new relationships is to co-parent and that is to come together as a team. Bring in your husband or wife that you divorced. Bring in your husband or wife that you recently married. How are we going to work this together? Instead of two parents there are now three. As a stepparent, your role is essential and you need to recreate that role in the relationship. What kind of a stepmother or father do you want to be? How will having a stepchild affect your relationship with your partner? So these things all need to be discussed in the open in an awkward way usually with the person your partner divorced. No one wants to do this. But it’s the most helpful meeting you’ll have and if you simply get together once, even if there’s lot of animosity and anger, if you can manage to do it, it’s going to save you years of frustration.
Copyright – 2013-14 – Tunomi Unlimited Incorporated (Twoology)