I am a step-parent and have been one for almost 24 years. When I married my husband he was the custodial parent of his twin sons who were 5 years old at the time. I didn’t have children of my own. Our first child came along when the boys were 8. I quickly learned that being a step-parent is quite different than being the biological parent. If I were to summarize what I know to be important factors in establishing a positive relationship with your step children I would say:
1. Allow for plenty of opportunity for your partner to spend time alone with his/her children. Support the relationship that was established long before you came along.
2. Be sensitive to what your step children are going through and don’t take things personally. Read books on becoming a successful stepparent.
3. Be aware that each age will adjust differently to a stepparent. Teens will take much longer to accept you than very young children.
4. Show respect towards the other parent. If your partner is bashing his/her ex-spouse, you don’t have to go along. It will not enhance your relationship with your step children.
5. Parenting someone else’s children can be very stressful. Make sure you take time for yourself doing things that make you feel good.
6. Keep in mind that these are not your children and the job of disciplining and setting rules is primarily up to the biological parents. You may disagree with their parenting style but it’s not your place to try and change things.
7. Attend a support group for blended families or step parenting. You’ll appreciate the support and soon find out that issues you’re dealing with are similar to what others are going through. You’ll also gain helpful tips.