Step dads - is it ok if…?

Becoming a stepdad can be a confusing time, so we give you the quick low down and reference guide for where to get more support with some of the common questions

Is it ok if… we decide to all move together into a new house? Or is this too disruptive for the children?

It is most definitely ok to decide to start afresh in a house which has no specific territories, memories or ties. There is always likely to be some sadness about leaving an established home, but if you are careful to make sure that there are lots of opportunities for your children/stepchildren to bring with them their personal things which matter, and to create their own space in a new family home, it can be a great new beginning. There are numerous experts that even recommend starting afresh in a new home where it is possible!

To get more ideas and consider other issues and steps before you change your living arrangements, read our article Planning to move in together?

Is it ok if… I don’t feel like I can discipline my stepchildren yet?

Yes, most definitely ok. And it may be that you feel like this because it is actually not appropriate that you do discipline your stepchildren yet. It can take time to build a relationship and the authority where this is appropriate and will be respected. Many men and women almost assume this is the natural role of the man or father figure in the house, but it is not necessarily so.

One tactic that parents often find helpful is to agree a family contract or set of rules, that everyone works together on. Then your role can be more a joint enforcer of these, rather than a disciplinarian. For more ideas, take a look at Communication within your family and also consider What is your role as a stepdad?

Is it ok if… my stepchildren want to spend some time alone with just their mum, not as a family?

Definitely, it is, and it is also important that you don’t take this as a criticism or dislike of you because it isn’t. Your stepchildren have a strong relationship and bond with their mum, and that relationship and the one-to-one time which will have come with that, has been a source of comfort, security and consistency for them through some difficult times.

Being able to still tap into that and the benefits it brings with it, will ease the transition into family life, and you giving their needs importance and space for them to be able to do this, can actually help build your bond with your stepchildren.

If you have children of your own, it is also equally important that you make sure they get to still spend time with you too.

Find out more How your/their children might feel, and how to help them adjust

Is it ok if… I don’t love my stepchildren as much as I love my own children?

It is not only ok, it is quite normal to feel this way. You will have an innate bond with your own children which will be hard to rival, but love isn’t a competition. You have made a commitment to your stepchildren to care and support them, and if you do that, that is enough.

Read more at I don’t love my stepchildren as much as I think I should, is this wrong?

Is it ok if… I choose to have a baby with my partner, even though we both have children from previous relationships already?

People with children already from previous relationships are often naturally more cautious of bringing another baby into a complex family dynamic, and it is helpful to be so. It is impossible to know in advance what the impact of a new baby into your family will be, and how each of the existing children might feel.

To explore more about the possible effects and considerations about how you introduce the idea of the news of a new baby into your family, have a look at What about when a new baby joins your stepfamily?

Is it ok that… it is taking a really, really long time to build any kind of real connection or bond with my stepchildren?

Yes, and patience is a much-needed skill when you are trying to do this. Building these kinds of relationships is a marathon, not a sprint, and how long it takes depends on so many different things. You may feel that you take three steps forward and two steps back at various points, this is all normal.

For ideas on how to keep working on that relationship with your stepchildren, visit Getting to know your stepchild/children

Is it ok if… my stepchildren call me by my first name?

If that is ok with you, then it is absolutely ok! Your stepchildren should call you what both they, and you, feel comfortable with.

Find our more What should my stepchildren call me?

Is it ok that… one of my stepchildren is disrespectful and rude towards me?

No this is not ok. It is not uncommon though, and rather than it being personal (although it may feel very personal at times) it is usually indicative of your step child finding all the changes and the situation in general overwhelming and difficult to cope with. Although this does not excuse the behaviour, it is important to be aware of to enable us to try and keep our own responses balanced and find a positive way through.

Find out more about what to do in this situation, by reading more over at One of my stepchildren doesn’t like me, what should I do?

Is it ok if... I don’t always agree with the way that my partner parents her children?

Yes, it is normal to not have the same approach as someone else or to just be able to see a different approach to handling something. However, be cautious of what action you take as a result, as it is one thing thinking this, but another acting on it.

Whatever you do, make sure you that you do not undermine or contradict your partner in front of her stepchildren. If you feel it would be helpful to discuss specific parenting issues with her, do so away from the children and in a way which is not critical of her approach – after all, she and her children have an established relationship which you do need to be mindful of.

You may also find it helpful to read these articles:

I don’t agree with how my partner/wife parents her children, do I challenge it or ignore it?

Different parenting styles are causing our family friction, what can I do?

Communication within your family

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Guest Wednesday, 15 July 2020

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