Effective Step-Parenting

Patience is the most important attribute a step-parent can have.

It takes time for everyone involved to gain mutual respect for each other. Make a conscious effort to overlook small differences and avoid criticism or condescension when communicating with your step-children.

» Do not expect an instant “family”. Take time to get to know your step children and for them to get to know you.

» Be prepared for them to react negatively. Respond with positive remarks and actions. Remember, you are the adult and should set the example of treating each other with respect.

» Allow your step child to have alone time with her/his biological parent. This will help to eliminate the child’s feeling of competition for your spouse’s attention and affection.

» Also, spend some one-on-one time with the step child yourself. Taking the time to be interested in her and what she likes or dislikes will help form a bond between the two of you.

» Never say negative comments about the other biological parent in front of the child. This will only damage your relationship with the child. Even if the child knows that the negative comments are true, they may feel a sense of duty to defend their biological parent.

» Move slowly in building a relationship with your step child. Many times they are already feeling jealous or distrustful of you. It takes time to build respect and trust.

» Defer to the biological parent for discipline. If you disagree with your spouse, do not confront him/her in front of the child. Discuss and come to an agreement on methods of discipline with your spouse before there is a need to apply them.