Ups and Downs of Step Parenting

Jumping right in as a step parent can often be a shock to the system, especially for step parents who have never have children of their own. Here's a look at a few of the ups and downs of step parenting that you may experience along the way.

by Joy Burgess

happy family at a park enjoying some quality timeJumping right in as a step parent can often be a shock to the system, especially for step parents who have never have children of their own. While step parenting is different for each person, no doubt as a step parent you are going to find that there are ups and downs that occur along the way. Sometimes it’s even probably going to feel like there are more downs than there are ups. Here’s a look at a few of the ups and downs of step parenting that you may experience along the way.

Being Reminded You’re Not the Parent

Often when you become a step parent, a lot is asked of you. It often feels that you are instantly being put into a job of a parent; however, there are those are constantly remind you that you are not their "real" parent, which can be frustrating. Many people are less than feeling when they speak to step parents and spout off the line, "well, it’s different when the kids are really yours." This is the last thing that any step mother or father wants to hear. It is especially frustrating to those who have no biological kids of their own. As you go through life as a step parent, be prepared for onlookers or even your step children reminding you that you’re not the parent. It’s difficult to deal with, but keep going on showing love to your step children – it will get better.

Unrealistic Expectations from Yourself and Others

Another of the downs of step parenting lies around unrealistic expectations, both from yourself and others. When you become a step parent, you’re often expected to just love the kids as your own. You may expect this of yourself and others may expect this from you too. While there are some step parents that go into the relationship with a deep love for their kids, often this is a relationship and love is a feeling that takes time to be built up. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself or allow others to do the same. Step parenting is difficult and it’s different for everyone. Forget your expectations and go with the flow.

Discipline Problems and Difficulties with Respect

At times when you are a step parent, there are discipline problems and respect issues that you end up facing. This is especially prevalent when you become a step parent to teenagers. Often as a step parent it’s difficult to discipline your step children. At times you may end up dealing with a lot of disrespect from your children as well. It can definitely be difficult to feel like you are left with all the responsibilities of step parenting, although you don’t have the rights.

Loving Step Children as Your Own

Loving your step children as your own can bring about both ups and downs. In the beginning you may feel pressured to love your step children like they were your own. Remember, love is not something that you can force into existence. Often later on you may find that the love does come and you do love your step children just like your own kids. This can be one of the huge pleasures of being a step parent when you finally get to a place of mutual love and respect with your children. However, never try to force yourself or your step children to that place.

Manipulative Behavior from Step Children

Manipulative behavior from step children often occurs to step parents, and it’s important that step parents are able to recognize this behavior and work through it. Sometimes you may face times when your step children are trying to manipulate you or trying to manipulate both you and your spouse. It’s important that you understand why children try to do this. Often they have the idea that they can manipulate their way and bring back their other parent into their life. In some cases the manipulative behavior is a defense mechanism as well, since they are afraid to let you close to them. You and your spouse must confront this behavior together and keep a unified front for the children. You can never afford to let your step children come between you and your spouse.

Pleasures of Step Parenting

Although there are many ups and downs associated with step parenting, and it often seems that you see more difficult times than joyful ones, it’s important that you realize that there are many pleasures of being a step parent as well. It takes work, it’s often hard, but it does pay off. Those moments when you break through to your step children and you really feel like you are making progress on the road to trust, respect, and love are worth every moment of frustration that you have dealt with. While your step child may never see you as their parent, if they come to see you as a trusted friend and family member, this is an amazing step in both of your lives. There may be times when you feel like throwing up your hands and quitting as a step parent, but if you keep at it there is no doubt that there will be great rewards at the end, even if you don’t see them until later in life.

Finally, family time is very important. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is make sure the whole family spends lots of quality fun time bonding together.

Joy Burgess is 28 year old wife and step mom, currently living in Arizona. Her family includes her husband, step son, step daughter, and dog, Chewy. Along with being a full time step mom, Joy also works full time as a writer and musician. Hobbies and interests include scrapbooking, gardening, playing the piano, cooking, and finding a few spare moments of quiet time alone. 

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2009 All Rights Reserved 


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