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The Remarried Life


Jul 31, 2018

Summary
Brian Mayer talks through becoming a stepdad and what best to concentrate on in the initial stages.  Becoming a new stepdad is difficult because we must balance building a relationship with our new stepchildren while also figuring out the parenting piece.  There are lots of ways to go about this and today we will discuss several things to keep in mind as you build this relationship.  We hope you enjoy today’s episode.  For more information and additional resources please visit our website at http://www.theremarriedlife.com

Today's Goodies

  • Becoming a new stepparent is probably one of the most difficult new roles that we will ever assume.   Today we are going to focus on becoming a stepfather and the most important items for you to be aware of as you enter into this new situation that can certainly be filled with landmines. 
  • Did you know that over 1,000 stepfamilies are created every single day in the U.S.  and in fact over 50% of families are remarried or recoupled.  Of course with that, it means over 1,000 stepdads enter the picture everyday as well.  So lots of us need help out there.
  • For me my interesting story is that I was a stepdad in my first marriage but not in my second.  True that is generally somewhat atypical and in fact was more difficult for me because I became a stepfather at the age of 22.  I did not know how to approach this and so I made lots of mistakes for sure.  I wish at that time there were resources like this podcast to help me out. 
  • Today we will talk about some tips that I wish I had back then to help ne navigate being a new stepdad and ones that I think will help you. 
  • Eyes Wide Open:  What I mean by this is that you must enter into this new situation understand there is a reality and that the picture of what you are hoping for may not be there especially to start.  You should assume that your new stepchildren will look at your addition as a subtraction.  They will look at you as pulling their biological parent away from them and not as if they have another parent to look up to.   
  • Relationship before Parenting:  This one is so critical and many of us get this one wrong.  Much research shows that you need to take this process slow.  Get to know the child on a friend level.  I know this sounds counterintuitive but there will be much resistance if you do not approach the relationship in this manner.  This is more difficult for men as we often can have a more distant authoritarian style to begin with.  Check out www.theremarriedlife.com/session12 for the episode about parenting styles.   
  • Unity with Mom:  Your desire may be to provide direction and discipline to the child but initially you must provide this indirectly through mom.  This will involve lots of conversations and being watchful of blame, criticism, harsh tones because should you begin to go down that path, mom’s ears will begin to close and even worse escalation of the difficulties will arise.   
  • Observe for 90 Days:  This can also be a timeframe of your choosing, but this logic comes from those that often talk about how best to assume a new leadership role in a company.  Most experts in the field of the study of corporate world will tell you to simply enter the picture and assess what you are seeing rather than immediately intervening.  There is no reason to come in immediately and rock the boat.  The children have had enough upheaval as it is.   
  • Be Patient:  Often it can take 6 months to 2 years for the initial feeling out period to take place where a child may feel more comfortable.  It is quite possible that it never happens.  That can be a difficult reality but one that you should be prepared for.  Just remember keep doing what you are doing and don’t tie your thoughts about what you are doing to the results you are seeing. 
  • Manage Your Own Anger:  There is no doubt that you will be angry and get stressed over the situations that arise.  When a child won’t do what you say, won’t reciprocate your love and affection, or won’t proactively come to you for advice or their needs.  This is such a difficult time for everyone including you.  Try your best not to get caught up in personifying what is happening.  In others words, realize that it may not matter who were to step in to your position the initial stages probably would not go well no matter what you do or who you are.
  • Being a stepdad is not easy.  Keep working at it and remember a lot of what we talked about.  There are of course lots of opinions and lots of research on what works and what does not so continue to seek that out.  One resource to mention is a book called The Smart Stepdad by Ron Deal which is loaded with lots of great information to help you in your journey. 

Resources:

Thanks For Listening!

  • With so many things that take time in our lives, I more grateful than you know that you took time to listen to this podcast episode. 
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As always remember that marriage is nothing something you have, it is something you do.  Talk to you next week unless you are binge listening in the future in which case I will talk to you in about a minute!  Take care.