Becoming a Stepparent

Becoming a stepparent by blending families or marrying someone with kids can be rewarding and fulfilling. If you’ve never had kids, you’ll get the chance to share your life with a younger person and help to shape his or her character. If you have kids, they can build relationships and establish a special bond that only siblings can have.

In some cases, new family members get along without a problem. But sometimes there are bumps in this new road.

Figuring out your role as a parent — aside from the day-to-day responsibilities that come with it — also may lead to confusion or even conflict between you and your partner, your partner’s ex, and their kids.

While there’s no easy formula for creating the “perfect” family, it’s important to approach this situation with patience and understanding for the feelings of all involved. Here’s how to make things easier as you adapt to your new role.

Start Slow

The initial role of a stepparent is that of another caring adult in a child’s life, similar to a loving family member or mentor. You may desire a closer bond right away, and might wonder what you’re doing wrong if your new stepchild doesn’t warm up to you or your kids as quickly as you’d like. But relationships need time to grow.

Start out slow and try not to rush into things. Let things develop naturally — kids can tell when adults are being fake or insincere. Over time, you can develop a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your stepchildren, which doesn’t necessarily have to resemble the one they share with their birth parents.

Things That Affect Your Relationship

Children who are mourning the loss of a deceased parent or the separation or divorce of their birth parents may need time to heal before they can fully accept you as a new parent.

For those whose birth parents are still alive, remarriage may mean the end of hope that their parents will reunite. Even if it has been several years since the separation, kids (even grown ones!) often cling to that hope for a long time. From the kids’ perspective, this reality can make them feel angry, hurt, and confused.

Other things that may affect the transition into stepparenting:

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