Every parent enters parenthood with their own unique set of beliefs and approaches.
What they have in common with every other parent, though, is the desire to do the best job possible in helping raise a young life. As if this task wasn’t hard enough, adding the stepparenting layer to the equation presents a whole new challenge.
With this challenge comes eye-opening relationships, tasks, responsibilities, dilemmas, unprecedented moments, and battles. Many witness a new side of themselves or others that they are unfamiliar with. Entering a blended family can bring up any underlying feelings of unworthiness, insecurity, jealousy, and neglect.
Fortunately, you can navigate your unique stepparenting situation with some amount of grace and ease by keeping a few pointers in mind.
1. Focus on the Child
In the midst of a trying and stressful new parenting dynamic, it’s easy to get caught up in the little things and lose sight of what’s really important. You may feel lost and a bit misguided trying to navigate this new world. This makes it all the more important to give your brain a simple focus: the child.
Making decisions based on what’s best for the child is an effective way to ensure that you’re making the right decisions for the right reasons. If you operate with this mentality, you will be able to look back years from now and feel good that you did not make rash decisions that negatively impacted the child.
It provides you peace of mind in the moment and makes decisions easier and clearer, while also providing you a sense of pride in being a stepparent.
In addition to decision-making, you can focus on the child by finding activities that you and your stepchild share an interest in, and taking the time to build your relationship in ways that the child will enjoy.
2. Create Healthy Boundaries
There’s no manual on how to stepparent that applies perfectly to everyone. However, there are many similar predicaments that often come up in a dynamic where a new parent is being introduced.
If you’re in the stepparenting role, you may notice some kickback from the other biological parent. If they wrestle with any insecurity, they may try to control you, limit your access to the child, manipulate your time with the child, and beyond. It can get feisty, ugly, and combative.
Know that you can’t heal that other person and you can’t control how they act. What you can control, though, are your own actions. You can always choose to come from a loving, secure place.
Create some healthy boundaries for yourself and your partner, like the following.
- Empower your partner to create a set schedule. This will make the child feel more comfortable, as it gives them a better idea of what the future is going to look like.
- Choose what is and isn’t acceptable and implement those principles. Creating this boundary is important to keep the trust strong in your relationship.
- Have a financial understanding of the other parenting party. Having no plan for how birthdays or sports equipment is paid for can cause you to get taken advantage of.
Know that a bit of planning in the beginning combined with creation of healthy boundaries will help create a more amicable situation for the years ahead.
3. Be Kind and Compassionate
Along with focusing on the child when you make decisions, being kind and compassionate will help you maintain sanity. This will also help keep the drama to a minimum.
Be a calming force of peace, understanding, and compassion as much as possible. Seeing you embody these characteristics will make you an excellent role model for the child as well as provide you with a centered demeanor.
4. Realize What You Can and Can’t Control
As a human being, you have a tendency to try to control every detail of your life when you’re overwhelmed or stressed. This will especially be the case in your parenting life. Know that it’s important to actively let go of that urge to control. It won’t serve you and it will also rob you of your ability to come from a loving, compassionate place.
Control freaks often cause friction, anxiety, and tension. Thus, it behooves you to not become one of them.
5. Be the Person You Want the Child to Become
Always remember that you have little eyes watching you. Young minds are especially sponge-like and impressionable. That means it’s all the more important for you to stay mindful about how you act, what you do, and what you say. They ultimately have a huge impact on the child and will shape how they grow into unique individuals.
6. Take Care of You
It may seem counterintuitive to focus on yourself when you are now partially responsible for your new child. It’s helpful to think of it this way: You must fill up your own cup in order to have anything to pour into the cups of the ones you love. In other words, you will have very little to give if you don’t give to yourself first.
This is doable in a way that doesn’t require hours a day. Simply start by dedicating 10 minutes to yourself in the morning before the day starts. Use that time to do a quick workout, meditate, listen to your favorite music, or journal. You’ll be amazed at how much this can help you to become reacquainted and connected with yourself.
Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and get some fresh air in order to keep yourself mentally prepared to parent. Good habits will help you maintain the energy you need to care for your child.
7. Be Secure and Confident
When someone is insecure and lacking confidence, they tend to exhibit controlling, abrasive, and manipulative behavior. On the contrary, those that are secure and confident in themselves are more reliable, understanding, open-minded, and less confrontational. It’s fair to say that insecurity as an adult in a co-parenting dynamic can cause all sorts of problems.
Thus, it’s important to optimize yourself so that you can maximize the positivity that you bring as a stepparent. In many ways, gaining your own sense of self, security, and confidence are natural byproducts of investing time into yourself. So, you can look at self-care as something that solves problems and keeps the mental and physical vitality of your life stellar without you truly realizing it.
8. Focus on What You Want
Similar to anything else in life, you manifest what you want by focusing your attention on it. This also works in reverse. Thus, you can attract what you don’t want by focusing on your worries, fears, and stressors.
What you think about, what you focus on, and what you dedicate your time to impact the outcome of your future. Make life easier for yourself simply by committing to focus on what you do want, not what you don’t. It’s a simple mind shift that will cause a major ripple effect in your life.
Picture your ideal parenting dynamic and all that it entails. Spend time focusing on it and you are likely to witness that positive changes will take place.
9. Keep a Healthy Perspective
Everyone has heard the phrase, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” There’s something beautiful about how straightforward that statement is. It’s an excellent reminder to not get caught up in the little day-to-day problems, as tempting as that can be.
Our society is one that thrives on drama, discussing our problems, and focusing on them. You will benefit from making it your mission to defy that norm. Be able to hover, so to speak, above your life circumstance to recognize what’s important and what’s a complete waste of your time and energy.
If your stepchild is challenging or criticizing you, try not to take it personally or overreact, and realize that these behaviors usually improve with time.
A simple perspective shift will immediately make many worries dissolve. After all, parenting starts as an inside job. What you can provide, the decisions you make, and the influence you have all arise from the health of your mindset.
If you find yourself in the midst of the moment where you’re overwhelmed, remember these tips. Stress and worry will grow if you leave things unresolved. Don’t be afraid to face the hard parts of your stepparenting situation head-on. That approach will lead to you having peace of mind.
If you are having difficulties in your role as a stepparent and are unable to improve things on your own or with your spouse, consider joining a support group for blended families or seeking counseling. You don’t have to do it all on your own.
Know that successful stepparenting may take a lot of work, communication is of the utmost importance, and the child is absorbing their surroundings. You can’t go wrong by putting in the work, being mindful, exhibiting kindness, staying calm, being your authentic self, and coming from a loving place.