If you are divorced with children and going to remarry, it is important for you to understand that being a stepparent is much more difficult than being a parent. Whether you, your new spouse, or both of you will be stepping into the role of stepparent, be prepared to face challenges you did not have with your own children.
According to author Jenna Korf, the relationship between a stepparent and stepchild typically takes years to build. Consider the following:
- All parents must learn as they go. This can be especially difficult for a stepparent who lives in constant fear of making a mistake that causes the child to hold a grudge. A child is more likely to forgive a parent than a stepparent, especially early on in the relationship.
- Being tolerant comes more naturally when the child belongs to you. A stepparent usually has missed out on the early years of bonding with a child, so they haven’t developed that unlimited ability to put up with anything the child says or does. Without this parenting super power, the child can seem like a foreign entity to the stepparent. It can take time for a stepparent to overlook when the child acts ugly or forgive the child for being hurtful.
- When a child belongs to you, it is always your place to speak-up. As a stepparent, however, you constantly worry about stepping on toes. Living with a child that resents your presence can be exhausting. Walking on egg shells for a lengthy period of time will eventually wear a stepparent down.
- A child naturally wants to spend time with their parent and a stepparent takes some of this time away. They don’t want to have to obey a stepparent or to deal with this extra person in their life. Thus, anytime a stepparent tries to intervene, it can feel like an intrusion. Ultimately, it comes down to a child having the desire to please their parent, but caring less what the stepparent thinks or feels.
- If the other parent is unhappy about the stepparent, it can really make the situation difficult. The child may feel guilt for liking or enjoying time with the stepparent. Thus, the child acts hateful toward the stepparent as evidence that he or she is not betraying their parent.
Divorce and remarrying can be difficult for everyone involved. It is important that you don’t try to “force” anything, but let the stepfamily dynamic develop naturally and in its own time. Be sure to listen to the stepparent if there are struggles and as the parent, be prepared to do most of the heavy lifting with your own child.
Contact the knowledgeable attorneys at the Men’s Divorce Law Firm. Our office is located in Orlando, Florida, but we proudly serve husbands and fathers across the State.