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Monday, November 23, 2009

Striving to Be a Positive Stepparent

Thank you for joining me on my blogging adventure. I hope to encourage you toward a positive commitment in your stepparenting role while affirming your perseverance along the way. I look forward to our journey together.

I'm sure most stepparents would agree with me that stepparenting is hard. Especially in the beginning. We're given the same responsibility of a natural parent but have little authority and sometimes no respect from our stepchildren. Step relationships are unique and some quickly develop into loving fellowship while others take years to even begin healthy communication with one another. Variables such as the age of the child at marriage, the dating period of the parents, the relationship with the "other parent," and the child's temperament influence how quickly a step relationship develops. But our actions as stepparents can also influence the developing bond.

Our thinking is the primary influence of our actions, negative and positive. If we want positive step relationships, we can start with how we're thinking about our stepchildren. Relationships can spiral downward if we are stuck in negative thinking patterns. Likewise, they can improve if we choose to believe there is hope. Our part is to work at communicating with our stepchildren in positive ways, whenever we can. It's not always possible because they have a role in it also, but we are responsible for our efforts.

Positive stepparenting may also involve lowering our expectations. We want our stepchildren to like us and want to spend time with us but that may not happen for a while. When I married my husband, my stepchildren were five and ten years old and they had a mother they loved dearly. They weren't looking for a stepmother and it took longer than I wanted to be loved and accepted as their stepmother.

My husband took a business trip out of the country for over a week within the first month of our marriage. I was working full time and managing a household with four kids but convinced myself it would be a great time for me to bond with his kids. I was wrong. The kids weren't ready for my stepparenting role full time and I responded personally to every offense. With a more realistic outlook of our time together, and baby steps toward healthy involvement, we could have enjoyed a better week.

To be a positive stepparent, we need to take care of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. A relaxing time with a friend can recharge our spirits after a difficult day. Physical exercise on a regular basis can motivate us to persevere through the rough patches. Finding hobbies we enjoy can balance negative emotions. Spending time in prayer and Bible study can redirect our thinking and keep us moving down the right path.

Positive stepparenting requires more effort than mindless parenting. We may not see the benefits right away, but if we are looking for healthy relationships, it's a step in the right direction. Make a positive difference today as you connect with those around you.


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