Steps to stepfather success
How stepfathers can make a smooth transition to instant fatherhood
Becoming a new husband is one thing. Taking on the additional responsibility of co-parenting your spouse’s children is quite another. With almost 2,100 blended families forming in the United States every day (according to The Bonded Family), it’s a challenge more and more take on. So, how do new stepparents, particularly stepfathers, adjust to new parenting responsibilities?
“It’s not an easy transition, no matter how well you got along with your stepchildren prior to the wedding,” said Joe D’Eramo, stepfather of two and author of 25 Ways to go from Stepfather to StepDad. “You want to get along and develop a relationship with your stepchildren, but you also want to make sure you’re not stepping on the toes of their father either. You also don’t want to be a pushover. So your focus really has to be on developing your own relationship with the kids.”
Adds D’Eramo, ”If you’re wife has physical custody, stepfathers actually spend more time with the children than the biological father. And by being around them more, you do have more opportunities to develop the relationship.”
Some suggestions for developing stepparent-stepchildren relationships include:
- Just being there – If your child is in the school play, has a ballgame, or is playing the piano in a recital, you are there. There can be a significant amount of uncertainty in the lives of children of divorce or those who have lost their father. Being a constant at their functions and events builds a foundation and creates the structure they desire.
- Coach a team – If your stepchild plays a sport and they need parents as coaches, volunteer. You need not be an expert on that particular sport. Most coaches just need another pair of hands and set of eyes to watch the kids.
- Mother’s Day/Birthdays/holidays - Take the lead in helping the children get gifts for birthdays, holidays and Mother’s Day. Make a trip to the mall or even making the gifts by hand a thing you do with your stepchildren.
- Develop one thing with each stepchild – It can be a secret handshake, a video game, a TV show, a bike ride, just about anything, but come up with one activity that you do solely with each stepchild. Make it your time, your thing.
- Ease your family into the picture – Do not force your parents/siblings and relatives on your stepchildren. If in the flow of things the children spend time and get comfortable with your family, great! If not, that’s fine, too. Remember, the transition for the children is far more difficult than it is for you. Just having a new parent is enough. Give it time, it will happen.
“Woody Allen said that 80 percent of success is just showing up. The same can be true of being a stepfather,” said D’Eramo. “Your presence alone provides structure and that’s something children crave. Be good to their mother and fair with them and you’re well on your way to making a splendid blended family.”
25 Ways to go from Stepfather to StepDad sells for $9.99 on Amazon as a Kindle book (Kindle also offers a free app that enables customers to read e-books on their PC). You can read more about the book and tips for stepfathers on the 25 Ways to go from Stepfather to StepDad Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/mystepdad.
About HiRoad Communications: Based in Plymouth, Massachusetts, HiRoad Communications is owned by freelance copywriter Joe D'Eramo. HiRoad generates copy for web content, marketing communications materials, PR pieces, articles, blogs, social media sites and more. For more information, visit www.hiroadcommunications.com