It is no secret that some step parents face being branded wicked and intolerable – whilst some of these accusations are false, there are however some situations where a step parent displays actions and behaviours that are totally wrong. This would therefore justifiably make them a bad step parent.
The step parent may never be the fan of the step children, but at the same time, attempts should be made on the part of the step parent to try to live amicably with the children of their spouse.
So what makes for a bad step parent?
Talking negatively about the other parent
As a step parent, you may have walked into the life of your spouse with background information of what their ex did. Yes, they may have behaved wrongly and broken the heart of your spouse or even abandoned the children. What is wrong for you as a step parent is to now talk about what the birth parent did in front of the children and make a big scene about it.
Whether your step children know about the event that led to the split between their parents or not is not really for you to talk about in front of them.
Bad mouthing the birth parent will never get you in the good books of the children and is a sign of immaturity on your part.
Not taking the time to get to know your step children
In order to form a good relationship, it is important to get to know the children. This, as in any other type of relationship would always take time and some effort on your part.
If you don’t make a conscious decision to get to know your step children, then you will not understand each other and the family unit runs the risk of never becoming stable and happy.
A bad step parent will not get to know the step children because they feel that the relationship is between the two adults in the family, but this is far from the truth. Not even attempting to get to know the children is an act of selfishness.
Disciplining your step children
Whilst it is important for all children step or not to be disciplined when the need arises, it is particularly important to leave this for the birth parent to do especially in the early stages of your relationship.
The way a step child would react to discipline from you would be different from their biological parent and in most cases could potentially cause problems for you and your spouse if you decide to discipline your step child. It is always better to leave this to your spouse and discuss any matters that you feel has to be dealt with by them.
The decision to discipline your step children should be discussed between you and your spouse – the age of the children would also determine if you would be in a place to discipline them.
Insisting that your step children call you Mom or Dad
This is an absolute no, no! It is not for you to dictate to your step children to call you mom or dad. If you have been involved in their lives for a long time, they may decide to call you mom or dad, but even then, if they don’t it is not for you to decide that it is about time they call you that.
In some step parenting homes, the step child will call the step parent mom or dad after they have developed a bond and in some cases if their other birth parent is no longer a large part of their lives.
Your step children not calling you mom or dad does not mean that they will not love you or treat you with respect. The only time it almost comes naturally from a step child is if they are too young to remember their birth parent and almost automatically just start calling you their parent.
Preferential Treatment to Your Own Children
If as a step parent, you are offering preferential treatment to your own children to the detriment of your step children, they may never trust or accept you in their lives. Yes, you love your own biological children and want the best for them – now that you are in a new environment with your spouse and his/her children, it is up to you to treat all the children alike.
If you treat all the children in the family the same way, this will help create a stable unit. Sometimes, even when you are not aware, your step children may be watching your every action to see whether you are treating them the same way as you treat your own children. This may never be outwardly acknowledged or appreciated by them, but be sure that if they pick up any preferential treatment, they will be quick to voice it out.
These are just some examples of bad step parenting.
It is generally acknowledged that the job of a step parent takes hard work, perseverance and patience. By not attempting to make it work with from the onset is a sign that you are a bad step parent.
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