Man and woman relationships alone are difficult. When you add his kids, her kids, his ex, her ex and the in-laws, most people cannot handle the pressure. Step-families require more effort and understanding because of more people involved, and this often includes young ones who didn’t ask to be put into the situation to begin with.Long ago, the term “stepmother” and “stepfather” were used to describe the “new” parent who stepped in after the “real” parent’s death. Today the step parent is less often a substitute than he is an added parent.
Being a parent triggers memories and emotions from one’s own childhood, whether conscious or unconscious. This may or may not bring fear to those thinking about raising another person’s child. Parents may raise children similar to their own upbringing, or the opposite. Parents may strive to give their children an entirely different upbringing. Parenting can be one of the most rewarding things we do in our lives. It can also be one of the most difficult undertakings and parental responsibility is not a responsibility we can take lightly. Taking on the role of step parent can perhaps be the most difficult undertaking of all. Most people find it difficult to talk about step parenting in general because there are situations in which you can find yourself in the role of a step parent. Finding yourself as a step dad or step mom to a child under three is easier than coming into an established family with several children ranging in age from four to sixteen or seventeen year olds and beyond. In the first case you can be presented with a few additional problems outside the normal realm of child parenting, while in the second case you could be facing a number of difficulties.
Step parents find raising step children can bring with it not only difficulties with the child or children involved, but also potential conflict with your partner, their ex-partner, and indeed an internal struggle with yourself. Where differences may arise between you and a step child, you will inevitably be confronted with “why should I listen to you, you are not my father,” or something similar. When conflict arises with your partner over a parenting decision you might find yourself being demoted to the position of a “second-class” parent and find yourself caught between your partner and the child or with both siding against you. The manner in which you approach the role of parent or step parent and the attitude you put forth will differ from those around you. You must pay particular attention to your actions so as to not alienate yourself from your partner or the children. Things to take into consideration when blending a family are: finances, living arrangements, holidays, grandparent responsibilities, and legal ramifications.
We all know the story of Cinderella. Fortunately there was a happy ending, but it did bring to light the “wicked step-mother.” Most everything you read about step parenting has to do with evil stepmothers, obnoxious children, responsibility with no control, resentful ex-partners and lack of worth or appreciation. But do not be discouraged because there is a better side to step families. Step families, when working together, can work even better than several “real” families. Step parenting can be stressful and may be a difficult role to fulfill. Step families, also referred to as blended families, are more of the norm now more than ever. When families “blend” to create step families, things rarely progress smoothly. A few children may resist the changes occurring, while parents may become frustrated or disappointed when the new family does not appear to function like their previous family. Most changes to a family structure require adjustment time for everyone involved. With the right guidance and realistic expectations, most blended families are able to work out their growing pains and live together successfully. To create a healthy blended family, you need open communication, positive attitudes, mutual respect, and plenty of love and patience.
Getting into a step family can be rewarding and will make for new adventures. As with every new adventure, hold on tight because there will be bumps along the way but the ride will be spectacular!