Ten tips to being a great step parent

We all know the saying ‘if you love the cow, you will accept the calf’ which can loosely be translated to mean ‘if you are in love with a woman, you must also love and accept her child/children’.

These few bad apples do not reflect the majority of cases where step-parents step up to the plate and do a yeoman job.

There are many horror stories about evil step-parents out there but these few bad apples do not reflect the majority of cases where step-parents step up to the plate and do a yeoman job at being caregivers, nurturers and an extra set of eyes and hands to keep the family unit tight and right.

So what makes a step-parent great? Although there are no hard and fast rules, as every family is different, here are some general pointers that can be applied across the board:

They do not overstep their bounds

1. They allow you to be the main one doing the discipline. If they come in like a bull in a China shop, the kids can get resentful and see them as an interloper

They try to establish their own personal bond with the child.

2. It can be something as simple as taking them for ice cream if they are young or getting their nails done together if they are teenagers. It shows that they have a genuine interest in their lives.

Respect the routine.

3. Children like routine, as it gives them a sense of stability and order. Do not come in and change things without consultation.

Do not try to fix what is not broken.

4. Probably one of the worst things to do is come in and impose new rules just because you are an adult. “Because I said so” will not win you any brownie points for being considerate.

Allow the child to express their emotions.

5. They may be young but they have feelings. Do not be dismissive of it. If they are uncomfortable being verbal, encourage them to put it in a letter.

Do not take yourself too seriously.

6. If something embarrassing happens, do not overcompensate by yelling. Just laugh too. It shows them a softer side of you.

Get their opinion when planning family-themed events.

7. When hitting the road together, ask them beforehand what they would like to do for fun and as long as it is not super expensive, add to the list of things to do.

Be fair but be firm.

8. If they think you are pushover they will try and get away with just about anything.

Do not get into a power struggle with older children.

9. As the adult you have to let them know that you are in charge but not in a confrontational manner. State what you want to be done and leave them to do it.

Tell them every day that you feel blessed to be a part of their lives.

10. They may not readily admit it but children love encouragement and words of praise. Build their self-esteem and watch them flourish.