Over the years, the term ‘step parent’ can and often has carried a negative connotation, perhaps stemming as far back as those childhood fairy tales of the wicked stepmother with the ugly wart. While there still may be a few of these roaming the earth, the majority of step parents are wart free and entirely delightful people. I like to think of them as parents that have stepped up to the plate to help raise or rear their spouse’s children.
When parents remarry and a step parent is introduced into the family, it is important to establish that role clearly in the home. Often times, they are stepping in as a father or mother figure in that home to help fill a void. Step mothers, especially ones with previous children are generally apt to accept more into their fold and can offer nurturing and fulfilling relationships to their step children. Step fathers, generally assume the role of provider and quickly become the man of the house providing strong male role models for their step children, particularly step sons.
While there is some element of sensitivity in making these types of familial transitions, it is necessary to foster healthy relationships with former spouses for your children’s sake. Their love for their parents will likely not fade, even if your love for them and quite possibly your tolerance has. Never berate or demean your child’s parent as it will hurt them far more than it will affect your ex. Try to be open and communicate in a positive manner how relationships will change. Discuss expectations you or they may have on each parent, step or natural. This should help establish roles within and outside the household.
Children need consistency and while things may have dramatically changed in their lives, their routines and expectations can be met with open hearts and some solid communication.