Adjusting to being a stepparent can be a pretty tricky task. There’s a lot of new things you’ll have to consider when adjusting to your new role. One of the hardest things you may struggle with are stepparent boundaries. As it turns out, there are a few lines which you may not want to cross…
Replacing a parent
One of the major stepparent boundaries that you want to respect is your stepchildren’s other parent. Sometimes, new stepparents want to help their stepchildren adjust by being more of a “parent” rather than stepparent. This might include things such as wanting to be called mom or dad, or trying to encourage them to do things with you instead of their other parent.
However, it is very important to respect that boundary. Understand that you aren’t their biological parent, but that isn’t a bad thing. Stepparents have their own special roles that they fit in which your new stepchildren will learn to accept, and appreciate, in time. You can still be a great parent, even if they don’t call you “mom” or “dad”.
Giving out discipline
Another important stepparent boundary to respect is with regards to discipline. If you discipline your own children, you might figure that you can apply that to your stepchildren. However, doing so could severely hurt your new relationship with them, and potentially damage it permanently.
Your stepchildren are still trying to figure out who you are and if you can get along. If you begin to punish them, then their opinion on you will sour and things will just get worse. Instead, try to offer a shoulder of support, and leave discipline to your partner. Don’t forget the complex emotions they’re dealing with, and how that could be behind their actions.
Tangling with the ex
Stepparent boundaries aren’t just limited to your stepchildren. They also apply to your partner’s ex as well. As their new spouse, it can feel a bit tempting to support them when they talk to their ex. However, doing so could upset the balance that your partner and their ex have created in regards to their co-parenting. While you can offer advice to your spouse in private, don’t get engaged in their talks directly.