• Mark Seevers

YOU"re not my parent!

In today's world, when we move into a relationship that leads to marriage or moving in together, most of us come with children (not baggage!). This is a great thing, and it can be a curse.

Becoming a stepparent requires several things to be Successful in the child(rens) life and the marriage.

I, unfortunately, found out the hard way. I love my stepdaughter but winning her trust was very hard. I didn't come into this relationship thinking I'm taking over as "Father" of the house, but I did feel she needed to respect my rules.

Here are some things I learned and some things I already knew coming into this relationship.

  1. First, I needed to learn what was NOT my job.

I already knew I was not there to replace her father. I'm a father of two girls, and I struggled with that same issue when my ex-wife remarried; I felt I was being replaced.

If you're a parent who no longer gets to see your children every night and you know someone else does, you know this feeling.

  1. I said above that I expected "L" to respect my rules. This is NOT a thing. We, as stepparents, need to understand that these kids already had rules, and now we are telling them the rules have changed. An unexpected change in a child's life can be challenging to understand. If the child is used to going to bed at 9 pm and you're now saying without warning, 7:30 pm. You can bet the child will rebel.

Sit down together as a family and go over the rules before implementing them. Give them a week to take in the rules, then slowly start introducing them.

  1. You are NOT the disciplinarian - ask yourself, how would you feel knowing that a stepparent you don't know is spanking your child? This is where we as a family need to come together and talk about boundaries. As the outsider, where are the lines drawn?

  • Can I put the child in time out?

  • Can I spank them without checking with the other parent first?

  • Can I intimidate them by standing over them or call them names?

(I truly hope these two are not options).I think you get the point.

So if these are NOTs, what is my job as a stepparent?

I'll make it easy for you to understand. Your job is to love them no matter what and even if.

No matter what buttons they push to test you.

No matter what they say to get under your skin, "you're not my parent."

Even if they take your car on a joy ride.

Even if they run away on your watch.

No matter what, and even if, your job is to love them.

What gives you the authority? - The fact that you carry a title as a stepparent does NOT give you authority.

There are two components to authority you should know.

  1. You have to set and enforce appropriate limits. We talked about this a little. What are our limits to loving and disciplining the child(ren)?

  2. It would help if you were not seen as only a provider of the bad times (time outs or spanking) but also as the provider of good things and good times.

Let them know you love them, reward them in the good times for not talking back or taking out the trash without being told. Let them know you see their efforts and that you appreciate their work.

Good things - I attended my stepdaughter's elementary track meets, high school cheer competitions, we trained for a triathlon together; the two of us have gone paddleboarding, I watched her graduate college, and the list goes on. We spent quality time getting to know each other in a loving environment.

We don't always see eye to eye, but I know she loves and respects me as she knows I would lay down my life for her.

I have done many things wrong as a stepparent, but I also know I've done a lot of things right.

Would you mind telling me your thoughts? What have you learned being a stepparent? If you are a child of a stepparent, please let me know your views.


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