The Challenges of Being a Stepfather
So much has been written about step-mothering, but you’ll find very few resource materials that can guide you on how to be a good stepfather. Probably it’s because most men don’t directly involve themselves much in raising the children, but becoming a stepfather can be one of the hardest parts of subsequent marriages.
But life can be pleasant being a stepfather if everyone in the relationship remains realistic about their expectations from each other. First, some children may consider a stepfather as a threat or a competition – Mom’s attention will have to be divided between her new husband and the children, when once it was just the children after Dad left. Probably, the children will even consider you as the reason why Mom replaced Dad, so you have to move slowly and carefully. Don’t push yourselves into your stepchildren’s lives – give them lots of time to get used to you being around. Let them discover nice things about you instead of presenting them with your credentials.
Many stepfathers make the mistake of establishing authority over the children too early, and the children hate that! Let their mother handle the issues early on, but be on the watch for opportunities where you can step in and allow them to build some trust in you. This can transpire through casual conversations where you can allow them to open up and share their feelings with you.
As much as possible, focus on the marriage and not on the stepchildren. What will get the children to like and love you the fastest is seeing you take very good care of their mother. Take their mother out to do the things she loves doing; once in a while invite the children to join in. A relaxing event dedicated to pleasure and enjoyment for all is always a very good breeding ground for developing your relationship with the stepchildren.
Be fair to all, and that includes your own children, if you have them from a previous marriage. The greatest dilemma of fathers and stepfathers is having children and stepchildren comparing themselves with one another. Of course you will always have that stronger connection with your biological children, so you will have to exert extra effort in establishing fairness.
It is always challenging to be a stepfather, but with the right actions and emotions, it can be a pleasant experience for you and the stepchildren. Jut be aware of the realities and limitations, as well as the new possibilities for forging great relationships with the children that have really become your own.