While every family is different, the dynamics that come along with stepparents and blended families are particularly complicated. As a stepparent, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what your role is and how to keep your family on solid ground as your partner’s children go between houses.
One of the best things to do if you are new to the stepparent game is to give the children time. It’s tempting to come in and attempt to immediately bring two families together, but just because you are living under the same roof or are married does not mean there won’t be issues. Working out the dynamics of a blended family can take years, and generally, the older the children are, the more time it takes.
A better strategy is to focus on the positive aspect of your relationship with your stepchildren and make sure to always support the biological parents. It’s easy to let your feelings about your partner’s ex influence the way you talk and behave around the children, but it’s important to be sensitive to their needs and the fact that the other parent is a very important part of their lives.
One thing that is important to understand is that, as a stepparent, you have no legal rights to your partner’s children and cannot go against the wishes of the legal parents. You also do not have the same rights as a noncustodial parent as far as petitioning the courts for changes in child support or custody. If you believe that something needs to be formally handled through the courts, your partner will need to discuss the situation with a lawyer to determine the best steps moving forward.
Source: Parents Magazine, “Parenting your partner’s child: you’re the new kid on the block,”
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