I am a divorced dad with two preteen kids. I will soon marry a woman with a seven-year-old boy. His dad has visitation rights, but he’ll be living with his mom and me. We’re both capable parents, but we’re needing advice on what good stepparenting is. We want them all to feel equally welcome. Any traps we should be looking out for?
Dear Nervous Dad,
The first thing to address is, how you would feel in the shoes of the boy’s father? Empathy, understanding, and patience is the order of the day. This goes for the entire family.
Parenting comes from the heart first and foremost. Aside from the practical day-to-day issues of supervising the children, it is important for the young boy to feel a part of your family as much as your own children.
I highly recommend integration, interaction, socialising and straight, positive conversations about how the future is going to look. Get all the children together for the discussion.
If appropriate, connect with the boy’s father. There needs to be a mutual understanding that you will both be caretakers and guardians for his son.
Being a stepparent is not an easy role to play, for you or your wife, so expect challenges. Above all else, remember that it is never our position to judge.
By raising these issues and reaching out for support and guidance, you are already showing you’re on board with an open heart. I wish you and your soon-to-be extended family, a very happy future together.
July/September 2022 Issue 5