If your partner or husband/wife has a child from a previous relationship, you’re a ‘step-parent’.
What is a ‘step-parent’?
A ‘step-parent’ is the husband or wife of your mum or dad, who isn’t your own biological parent. A lot of people may also refer to the unmarried partner of their mum or dad as a step-parent too, especially these days where less couples are choosing to get hitched, and if someone has a close relationship with the partner of a parent.
What difficulties can arise?
With being a step-parent comes a myriad of things to consider… Family politics can be complex especially when there’s a child in the mix!
- How are relations between your partner and their ex (the other parent of their shared child)?
- Are there any specific custody agreements in place?
- Is the other parent of their child receptive to communication about anything to do with the child?
- Is there any residual resentment from the previous breakup that may mean you need to tread very conscientiously?
- How close is their child with your partner – do they spend more time with their other parent? How do they feel about the breakdown of the relationship?
Of course, these factors will vary a lot between each situation, so this is something that you and your partner/spouse need to sit down and discuss.
The step-parents in our community discussed the ins and out of step-parenting with us and had some sage advice…
We hope that these snippets help you!
Donna: Know when to pick your battles. If there is animosity from the mother, don’t get involved. Try to foster a positive relationship with the mother. If you cant stand the mother, DON’T TELL THE KIDS. Log everything, possible neglect, alienation etc. Be prepared for court (fees, evidence).
The tips I would give may not be the same as another woman would give as every situation is different
Charlie: Don’t force a relationship straight away, it will develop in time. And don’t try and be a parent.
Devon: Don’t try and be the boss, it’s hard on both sides to adapt, just support them and love them like there your own.
Claire: Remember that the children are not your own and that you are not their parent, ask out of politeness ask before taking the child for hair cuts, nail painting sessions , leaving the child(ren) with babysitters the parent doesn’t know, don’t be surprised if the parent with residency isn’t impressed when they phone up to find out how the child is, and find out that they have been left with the 16 year old who lives down the road , while you go out for a romantic dinner.
Chelsea: Obviously every situation is different but as a whole I’d say don’t do anything differently as you would if they were your own children. Granted this could be different depending on age of child or other considerations, such as a teenager probably won’t appreciate that if you’ve just come into their lives.
But personally I HATE the term ‘step’! My Dad is actually my step dad and the thought of ever calling him that breaks my heart! He accepted me as his own, he disciplined me when needed (I think this is important because if they aren’t allowed to discipline then normally the children can act up because they know nothing can be done about it), he nursed me when sick, he taught me to ride a bike… he is and was my dad! He is a part of my family! A lot of people say love them like your own but how can you do that if there’s restrictions on what you can or can’t do for fear of over stepping, I think kids pick up on that personally.
Caitlin: Treat the child as your own. Whether it’s disciplining them or showing them love you need to be consistent so they know exactly where they stand with you. Don’t let animosity from the other parent affect your relationship with the child, just always do your best by them and you will create your own special relationship.
So, as we saw, there’s a lot of ways in which you can foster a serendipitous relationship for everyone as a step-parent.
However, it’s not a black-and-white topic, it’s very complex, so if you’re having concerns as a step-parent, and want to know how you can make your family situation as serene as possible, sit down with your partner, and even their ex, to see how you can all come to a harmonious arrangement.
This viral post that we’ve spotted is a lovely read – it shows that there can be a positive relationship between a step-parent and the other parent of a child!
This is my daughters fathers gf. The sweetest thing ever! I'm super thankful for her because when she visits her dad she…
Love from Katie & Team BBY. Xx