Being a step mom or a step dad is a hard job, no doubt about it. Chances are you came into this step parent position with little or no training for it. When you come right down to it, few of us looked into the future to see ourselves as step parents!

But here we are, happy to be here, happy to have found a chance to build a successful blended family, and not ashamed to admit it is harder than we expected it would be! After all, finding someone new to love after a divorce or being widowed felt easy, felt right, and felt achievable. Filled with hope and the dream of living happily ever after, we jumped in with both feet!

Suggestions for step parent role limits

If your step kids already have two parents, you do not need to feel as if you have to step into a parenting role. Your important role in this scenario is to support your spouse and his or her ex as they struggle to co-parent their children. Children of divorce and remarriage benefit from close ties to both bio parents, and you can help by encouraging them to work things out for the benefit of the kids while you stand back. Oh, you still hold an important position in your step family, to be sure. You need to be the person who is objective, fair, kind, and accepting of your spouse and of the children, no matter what else is happening. Your step kids have likely been navigating between battling parents for quite some time, and they can probably use a bit of stability and calm from you. Their parents probably can, too. You can help with that. You can support your spouse and his or her parenting goals by presenting a united stand with your step kids. You might advocate for a different approach now and then if you feel you must, and not appear to be taking sides if you are open and honest and above all, fair. You may become a sort of confidante and sounding board for issues your step kids feel uncomfortable talking about with their parents. Make it your aim to be available to your step kids and a sounding board for your spouse.

If your step kids have lost their other parent, either through death or by absence, your step parent role is increased, but your main role is still to support your spouse as he or she parents her children. Until your step kids have fully accepted you in a parental role, you are relegated to the equally significant and reputable role as partner to their bio parent. You and your spouse must present yourselves undeniably co-leaders of the step family, so whether your role as step parent is hands-on or peripheral, bio kids and step kids alike know they are expected to act accordingly,. The issue at hand is to do what you and your spouse agree is best for the children and for the blended family.

Parenting is difficult. Step parenting is harder. But when step parents approach the role in the same way parents do, by doing what is best for the children and for the blended family, everyone benefits. For more information on step parenting, visit The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.