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    New Mommy, New Daddy-The Art of Step-Parenting

    By Kristen Houghton     

    Youíre in love, youíre getting married; life looks good and beautiful. Thereís only one minor hitch; besides becoming a new husband or wife youíre going to become an instant Dad or Mom.

    One of the hardest jobs to take on is becoming a step-parent. The job becomes even more difficult if this is your first foray into parenthood. If youíve never had the responsibility of being a mom or dad, the prospect of becoming one as a step-parent can be a frightening one.

    Having a baby, a little bundle who will grow along with us as we perfect our new parenting skills is one thing. But becoming an instant parent of an older child brings not only our never used parenting skills into question but our status as a member of the family. The child was there first and we can be made to feel like an interloper in an established family unit. Step-parenting is an art.

    When your repeated efforts to make them feel comfortable with you as a permanent household member are rebuffed, you can feel like an unwanted visitor in your own home. It helps to remember that it is probably not you personally whom the child doesnít like, itís the idea of who and what you represent. You are the step-parent, the one the child feels has taken their real Mommyís or Daddyís place. No matter how wonderful, understanding, and kind you may be, and no matter how much they may want to warm up to you, children will feel conflicted about loving a step-parent. Itís a loyalty thing, a guilt reaction. Their reasoning is that, ďI canít love this new person. That mean Iím forgetting my real mom or dad.Ē

    The best way to create a happy family is to be completely honest with the child. Tell him or her that you wouldnít ever want to take the place of their mom or dad but that you really want be part of the family as a respected step-parent. Emphasize the love you have for the parent you married and your desire that you all live in happiness together.

    Donít be the disciplinarian. Thatís not your job. You can have an input into what is appropriate behavior and what is not, but if you punish a child it will only cause resentment.

    No matter how tempting, never ever speak badly of the parent who is not there. No one, especially a child, needs to hear negative words about someone they miss. Childhood loyalty is strong.

    If possible, be on good terms with the other parent. You will be seeing him or her at school and sports functions possibly for years to come. My step-mom made it a point to take my mother out to dinner a couple of times a year. She did it for my sake.

    Remember that it will take time and effort to establish a good relationship but that, for harmony sake and a happy family, it is worth it all.

    Written by Kristen HoughtonRate this article:

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