Published: Thu 14 May 2020
Stepdads and Blended Families
The learnings in this article series are based on our research and years of experience supporting fathers and father-figures. But the fact is, everyone’s situation is different, so feel free to be creative, and adapt our wisdom to suit your circumstances.
Stepdads and Blended Families: Being Proactive
It is important to remember in the stepdad journey, that in the same way your romantic relationship developed over time, strong, healthy relationships with your stepchildren also take time to develop.
Contents of this article
- How to value your role as a stepdad
- Guidance on how to express your care for your new family
- Tips on how to clarify your parenting role with your partner
- How to treat everyone equally in your blended family
- Guide to balancing your own children with your stepchildren
- Importance of time out and reflection
We recently spoke with Lachlan Gillespie from the Wiggles about becoming a stepdad.
Tip 1: Value your role as a stepdad
- It is important to understand that as a stepparent you are not a replacement for a biological father. With time and the development of trust, you can become a hugely significant father-figure in their lives.
- By being patient and caring, you can work towards building a positive and respectful relationship with the children.
- By showing them that you love and respect their mother or other parent, you will also show them you are worthy of their trust.
- Positive father-figures can have a huge impact on childrens’ wellbeing and development, even if they are not the biological father.
Tip 2: Express your care for your new family
- Showing you genuinely care will help to reassure your stepchildren that you have joined the family for the right reasons.
- Be aware that some children will hold out hope of their parents reconciling after separation or divorce. This may make the transition to your new family structure difficult.
- Try speaking with your partner to think of ways you can reassure your stepchild. Perhaps their parent, or both of you together, will need to provide some extra reassurance that this new relationship and family structure is what will allow everyone to feel happiest.
- Take opportunities to openly express how much you care about your new partner to reassure them.
Tip 3: Clarify your new parenting role with your partner
- Discuss and agree on some very basic definitions of your new role and be alert to all the potential issues that could possibly arise.
- Talk regularly with your new partner about what kind of parenting role you can and want to play for your step-kids.
- Make sure you schedule ‘check in’ times to see how everyone is feeling and coping with the new situation.
Tip 4: Treat everyone equally in the blended family
“If you’re the step parent in a truly blended family, where both you and your spouse have children being merged into one family, you should take great care not to be perceived to be playing favorites – where your children enjoy a better standard of treatment than your stepchildren.” Stepfather advice.
Tip 5: Balancing your own children with your stepchildren
- Remember, both your own children and your stepchildren are a part of ‘your family’ now.
- Equal does not mean ‘exactly the same’, it just means you are meeting the needs of each child with the same amount of care and attention
- Make sure you continue to support your own children through family changes, keep an eye on how your stepchild interacts with your own children and be conscious that you and your partner will need to support their relationship.
Tip 6: Take your time
- The positive impact that stepfathers have tends to be greater the longer they’ve been in the family.
- Remember, blended families need time to develop. Stepparents who jump too quickly into parenting roles without first building up a relationship with their stepchildren may do more harm than good.
- Having an involved stepfather is incredibly important for stepchildren in terms of their wellbeing, academic outcomes, and risk of depression.