Being a step-parent can be rewarding, but it can be challenging too. Here are some tips from our Fort Worth family law attorneys to help you navigate the complexities of step-parenting and build a positive relationship with your stepchildren.
Step-Parenting Is About Building a Foundation of Trust Over Time
It takes time to realize your full role as a step-parent. Give yourself grace, and don’t expect everything to feel fully settled overnight. Allow your stepchildren to set the pace when developing a bond with you. Over time, you can build a foundation of trust by being reliable and consistent and by following through with commitments.
Far more than showering them with expensive gifts or whirlwind activities, your consistently positive presence will be effective in building the relationship.
Here are some things you can do to work on that foundation of trust:
- Attend their school events
- Show an interest in their extracurricular activities
- Celebrate important milestones with them
- Notice their achievements and show admiration when it’s due
- Be a good listener, encouraging open and honest communication
Respect Their Boundaries
Your stepchildren have likely been through a lot of change. They started out with a family structure that looked a lot different than it does today. Try to keep their perspective in mind and remember that, unlike adults, children don’t have a high degree of control over their lives. It can take them time to adjust to new family dynamics.
Respect their personal space, privacy and individuality. Avoid trying to replace their biological parent or force a close relationship too quickly.
Avoid Discipline Conflicts in Step-Parenting
Disciplining stepchildren can often lead to conflict between you and your partner. Discuss discipline expectations and strategies with your partner ahead of time—before the need for discipline comes up.
Consistency between both parents is important. You’ll get the best results if you work together to establish clear boundaries and consequences. For example, it’s often easy for the step-parent to become the parent who says yes after the biological parents have said no. This can feel like a way to bond in the present, but it can have a negative impact in the long-term.
Just as importantly, be respectful and avoid any discipline methods that are not approved by your partner.
Talk With a Lawyer About Your Concerns
You may be lightyears away from considering divorce. But if things aren’t going smoothly, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a professional who can guide you through challenging family law matters.
At the Schneider Law Firm, our Fort Worth, Texas, family law attorneys are here to help resolve a wide range of complex issues. Call 817-755-1852 or send us a message to request your free consultation.