A Step by Step Approach to Step Parenting
Death or divorce, both unpleasant circumstances often result in the need for step parenting. Re-marrying and subsequent step parenting require the same skills, dedication, focus and luck that is necessary in good parenting under ideal conditions. In step parenting there is a little more to consider. Let’s call these considerations steps – steps toward parenting or step parenting - sort of fits doesn’t it?
Everything starts with love. It’s not enough that the roles of moms and dads are in flux in the typical step parenting scenario and it takes time to re-establish those roles, especially where step-children are concerned. Other unconscious and subconscious issues hide beneath the surface and these can sabotage the early parenting efforts of step-moms and step-dads alike. These include the effects of violent relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, death of a spouse or parent or incarceration – all these add to the mix of potential parenting woes.
Fortunately, we can start with baby steps. The adage Start where you’re at! gives hope. (The grammar might be off but the heart resonates with encouragement to this simplicity)
Basic human needs after birth include oxygen, food, clothing, then some shelter and a little friendly association. You see, half the work is already done and that with just being willing to make a start!
Not Quite Running Marathons Yet
Next come the days, weeks and months of patience and determined effort, followed up with heaps of forgiveness and courage. Now you’ve got a fighting chance to at least make a positive impression on a young mind already struggling – trying to sort out the meaning of separated parents.
Everyone gravitates towards love, and step-parents are no different. The results you seek in you step parenting efforts may show themselves in strange ways at first. Step-kids can and will challenge, deceive, act distant – even curse at you – but they are also observing you and looking for the love. Patience, determined effort, forgiveness and courage are called for because it can take a lifetime to master these traits.
Stepping into this profession called step parenting is scary, challenging and exciting all at the same time. You may never have imagined yourself as a step-parent or dreamed that you children could be living with one, but life is full of surprises. The experience will surely move you forward in a big way if you are receptive to the signs along the way. Step lightly and have a pleasant journey!