Taking The Stress Out Of Being A Stepdad: Warrior Wellbeing Article
Walking the tightrope of being a stepdad can be a particularly stressful time for many blokes and this added situational distress, that some blokes sometimes find themselves in, can be both challenging and take time to resolve. Remember all relationships are a work in progress.
Quite often, we may still be dealing with the scars of a past relationship breakdown whilst forging a new bond with our new partner. The confusion over the new role can be self-defeating not only to the marriage but to the relationship with the new kids. It’s not only Dad trying to cope with a new role, but Mum and the kids are trying to find their feet in a changing landscape as well.
Here are some tips to hopefully help smooth the ride:
- Whilst you may already be a father, don’t assume that this role will be the same with your step kids. Approach step fatherhood as more of a mentorship role. You will be a protector, a role-model and a significant influencer as they grow. These kids will almost certainly have an instinctive love and affinity to their natural father, so attempting to take that from them can only be counterproductive.
- Encourage their relationship with their biological father (unless this is counter to their safety or wellbeing). One of the worst things you can do is constantly make snide remarks about the “ex”. All that this achieves, is that it teaches your kids to weaponize relationships. If your opinion or sentiment towards the “ex” is poor, keep it to yourself!
- Don’t be forced into the role of being the sole disciplinarian. This can be hard, as it is quite often expected of the father. The problem is, that you haven’t been there from day one, so therefore the relationships and rapport that you may already have with your own kids just hasn’t had time to develop. Discipline should come from the biological parent with you in a supporting role, at least initially.
- Just be a great partner. Kids are intuitive, and if they witness a loving, supportive bloke who genuinely cares for their mother, the love and respect that you’re yearning from your step-kids should hopefully follow.
- Speak with other stepdads about their experiences and what has worked for them. You are not on your own and a wealth of experience waits for those willing to ask.
- The new role can’t be rushed. To expect to immediately have the sort of relationship that you may already have with your own kids is wishful thinking. Listen attentively, be sensitive to how they are feeling and build trust.
From my personal experience, being a stepdad can be challenging at times but on the flip side, it’s immensely rewarding. The trick is (like with anything worthwhile) to realise it’s going to take time. All children no matter their age require and seek the approval of a father, stepdad and/or male mentor in their life. Remember, anyone can father a baby, but it takes a special bloke to raise a child!
Glen and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277