How Can I Be a Better Stepparent to My Spouse's Child?

 Posted on September 19, 2015 in Children

stepparenting.jpgWhen you marry a parent, you get more than a new spouse. You get one or more stepchildren, which provide a unique family dynamic that can be very challenging for you regardless of whether you have children of your own. The presence of a new stepparent in a household can complicate family law issues such as child custody and child support agreements.

As a new step parent, you might be unsure of your role in your spouse's child's life. Talk with your spouse about his or her expectations for your relationship with his or her child. Discuss your thoughts, your goals, and your fears about this role as well. Most disagreements and misunderstandings within a family can be easily resolved through communication.

Know Your Boundaries

You might not feel comfortable disciplining your spouse's child. You also might not feel comfortable communicating with his or her teachers or your spouse's former partner. Do not feel pressured to do things you are not comfortable doing. If your partner has explicitly told you that certain actions and topics are off-limits with his or her child, respect these boundaries. Every family has its own standards for appropriate boundaries. Discuss these with your partner to determine the right boundaries for your household.

Show an Interest

Make your stepchild feel like you are interested in his or her life. Ask about his or her schoolwork, go to his or her sporting events, and make it a point to spend time with him or her. Make yourself available to him or her to talk or spend time together.

Never Undermine the Child's Other Parent or Your Spouse

No matter how close you become with your spouse's child, you are not that child's parent. Do not attempt to undermine your spouse or your spouse's former partner when it comes to parenting matters, no matter how strongly you feel about their parenting styles or the choices they make. This includes speaking badly of your child's other parent in the child's presence.

Adjust to Them, Rather than Asking Them to Adjust to You

Over your years together, you and your spouse will create many lasting memories and traditions. For your spouse's child, these should be in addition to those he or she shared with your spouse before you got married, rather than an attempt to overwrite these previous memories and household customs.

For example, if your spouse and his or her child have a tradition of making gingerbread houses together every Christmas Eve, do not attempt to institute a tradition of going out on Christmas Eve. Respect your spouse's relationship with his or her child.

Kane County Family Attorneys

Adjusting to a new spouse and stepchildren can be difficult for you and for every other member of your household. For advice about your rights and what you can expect from interactions with the court, contact Goostree Law Group to discuss your concerns with an experienced Kane County family attorney. We are proud advocates for parents, step parents, and children throughout Illinois. Let us advocate for you.



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