Because it’s the first week of the new year, I see ideas on how to better ourselves at every turn. So it made me think about what practical tips I would give for someone hoping to better their stepparenting relationships.
If you read my blog often you probably know that the first tip I would suggest is to center your life around God and seek His guidance for you and your family. Take practical steps toward spiritual growth – consistent prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers – to allow for spiritual maturity that will benefit all of your relationships.
The second tip I offer for successful stepparenting is to maintain a united front with your spouse. Don’t allow disagreements over the kids to impede on your marital relationship. Discuss “kid issues” in private and reach a mutual decision over behavior before addressing a child. Allow the biological parent to address disciplinary actions of his/her child whenever possible.
The third tip I suggest is to learn how to resolve conflict. Research shows that stepfamilies have more conflict, on average, than traditional families so it’s important for you to know how to manage it. If you need help in this area, seek outside services. Don’t resort to using intimidation, manipulation, or avoidance. Learn the skills you need to properly address conflict and resolve it or it will haunt you and your relationships.
Tip #4 for successful stepparenting is to commit to do your part to create peaceful relationships. I don’t have to define what “your part” means in a peacemaking role. Each of us knows what we need to do to promote peace in our home. The decision we must make is this: are we willing to do the “hard stuff” in our relationships? Are we willing to be the bigger person? Will we commit to take the high road, regardless of how our stepchild behaves?
The fifth tip I suggest is to maintain a separate identity of who you are outside your stepparenting role. This might seem like an odd tip for successful stepparenting but it’s an important one because it allows for better objectivity in your stepparenting role.
I didn’t grasp this for a long time and it almost destroyed me in the early years of our marriage. My identity centered on being a good mom and stepmom. Therefore, on difficult stepparenting days (which were often in the beginning) I felt like a complete failure. But when I learned to recognize that my stepparenting role was only one part of who I was, I could walk away from difficult stepparenting interactions and objectively identify what went wrong and how to fix it. It also enables me to recognize that my stepchildren play a role in what kind of relationship we have and I am only repsonsible for my part.
Five practical tips with a meaningful punch to enable successful stepparenting in 2012 and beyond.
Do you agree? Do you have other tips to offer? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.