Being a step parent is tough. You’re left to figure out where the boundaries lie, what is expected of you, and how you can come into a more active role in the family as it constantly shifts. Being a step parent has its own set of turmoil. Especially in that first year, and we’re here for you. You’re not alone, it is as tough as you feel it is, and you’re allowed to be frustrated from time to time.
Step Parent Hacks: Finding Your Place in the Family
In this first year, you’re learning a lot. Every child is different, and if you don’t have any of your own— you’re in a bit more uncharted water than someone bringing their own child into the situation. You’re figuring out a household, you’re getting to know your children, and setting routines with them— without overstepping. It’s tough until you find a groove.
You’re not expected to be a parent to this child
You are, at first, mostly trying to create a bond or a friendship with the child. No one expects you to discipline, or fall into a parental role. Until you figure out where the boundaries lie for the parents, and the child, you’re a bit of a bystander. The best thing you can do is ask both of the parents: “what do you need and expect of me when it comes to the child?” Having this conversation, while it might feel slightly strange, can create a fantastic dynamic between the three of you. It shows an effort on your part to mind their roles as parents. But it also displays a willingness to fall into a role that is helpful to the parents and the child.
It’s okay to put your marriage first as you figure it out
You married into a family, but you also married a person. It’s okay to prioritize them at first— no matter what anyone says. Establishing open lines of communication within which you can tell your spouse, listen, ‘this makes me uncomfortable’, or ‘I need this of you’. Marriage is tough, and the first year growing pains are inevitable— especially when children are involved. You have to find peace within your marriage in order to make it work during the growing pain days.
Be willing to take a backseat at first
The child will come to you. Sometimes it takes a while, and sometimes it feels hopeless. But if you aren’t pushing, and you can provide the kind of support they need from you— you’ll find friendship in no time. Be less active in these scenario’s and know you don’t have to try so hard to be anything but a friend at first. If they start confiding in you, and treating you as more— roll with it!! That’s awesome, but don’t expect too much of them.
It’s gonna be a bumpy ride, and some days will be better than others. But if you love your husband, and his family, you’ve gotta ride it out from time to time. Marriage, and especially being a step parent, is not always sunshine and rainbows. But if you can celebrate the triumphs, and let go of the little stuff— you’ll find that you have a great spot in all of this. You don’t have the pressure of parenting. But, you do have the chance to create an inseparable bond with the child and your husband, and potentially his ex-spouse.
It’s all about finding your groove together, and letting it be from time to time. We wish you luck as you embark on a journey that will not be easy. But, at the end of the day, it will be extremely rewarding.