Becoming a Step Parent: How to Ease into Your New Role

It’s a gift to enter into a family with kids. The children are blessed to have so much love around them, and your heart is in such a great place to want to be a part of their life. You can never have too much love in a family!

In some ways, the children will soak up this new relationship with you and will love having another parental figure in their life. However, there is another part to this equation. Change is sometimes a hard thing, especially for children. Children tend to struggle and show resistance when they are confronted with big changes. It’s important to take on your new step parent role carefully. Today, we are sharing ways you can enter into your new step parent role with ease.

Go Slowly

We can’t stress this enough. Enter into this relationship gradually and show respect for the traditions the kids already have in place as a family. You are a part of their family now so join in, ask questions, and learn! As you show your appreciation for their traditions, you can slowly add in your own traditions as well. Chances are the kids will love joining in on your traditions and trying something new.

Respect Space

Showing respect for children’s space goes a long way. When you enter a relationship (any relationship) aggressively you can push people away. When you are respectful and observe and listen, things will naturally begin to flow. Keep in mind that asking questions is important. When you show interest in their life, you are showing that you care. Listening to what they have to say and tuning in to the emotion beneath their words is key. When you can pick up on their feelings, you are opening a new door of connection.

Drop Assumptions

Don’t assume that your bond with your step children will be instant. This will take time. Take on this new role quietly and gently and become friends first. You will slowly gain their trust and can grow into a deeper bond with them over time. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much they respond to you when you enter gently. This may take time, so drop any assumptions that you will have an instant bond, and let it grow naturally over time.

Be Vulnerable

Are you a new parent? Perhaps you don’t know where to begin? It’s ok to be vulnerable and say this. Let the kids know you are a new parent and ask questions like “tell me what a parent does in your house?” or say “I’m a new parent and I don’t know everything about being a parent so let’s learn together!” Don’t let them control you, but open up the conversation and let them know you are learning too. By letting them know you are vulnerable and excited to learn your new role, you will begin to understand their perspective as well.

You Aren’t a Replacement: Communicate This

Gaining a step parent can be hard on some kids, especially those who think you are trying to replace their Mother or Father. If this is the case in your new family, then the best way to approach this is to be direct. Let them know you understand their attachment to their Mom or Dad and how precious that relationship is.

Communicate that you have no desire to replace their parent in any way. Let them know you are glad to have them in your life, that you welcome them, and you’d love to have a relationship with them. Once you establish this, your step children will be able to relax and know that they aren’t betraying their other parent, and there’s no threatening conflict of interest in any way.

Blending families together is a beautiful thing! When you ease into your new step parent role and respect traditions and space, you’ll be able to pave your way to a great connection. If you’d like to learn more, check out our book Saving Your Second Marriage Before It Starts.

Are you a step parent? How did you take on this new role? We’d love to hear about your experience below!


  • Rebecka Sando says:

    I am a step Mom! It’s super hard! No matter, at what stages or ages of the kids you enter into their lives, it’s hard, but can have its delights for sure. Looking back, I wish our perspective of parenting was transparent. If I had to do it over, I’d try to be humble, enough to have compassion for the 2 life’s she had to live. Not selfishness, for what I wanted from her in our home. I became step Mom to our daughter when she was 2, and my son was 1 1/2. Almost instant twins. She graduated this year, and we both celebrated her new freedom and wings to fly away from the court papers leashes. My greatest error in the whole thing was me trying to raise her as my own, her greatest struggle was having to live two completely different lives in homes that went on without her no matter where and when. I certainly felt alone in a world that was uncharted territory, with not many resources of help, back in early 2003. We did the best we thought to do it, and now I can see things we did well, and things that we did completely wrong, but with her new found freedom into this world, she knows I am in her life as a support, and friend, and she knows how great my love for her is. She is truly a delight in my life and i look forward to the years ahead, but she certainly needs the freedom to navigate her own life and decisions now because so much of her life was pulled and pushed in a battle between parents, and court papers being abided by. If step parents put themselves in the shoes of these kids for just 48 hrs, they would have a whole new understanding of what these kiddos go thru, struggle with and need. What I did not do is just that, i didn’t care enough to think of what her life was like, but rather just what we wanted from her in our home. It’s awakening to see their world’s thru their lenses. It grabs my heart strings and makes me kneel in heart break and shame. Just wear their glasses for a day!

  • Rebecka Sando says:

    I highly recommend this book “Saving your Second Marriage Before it Starts” The above suggestions are greatly helpful, I wish I had heard those tips earlier, and been more willing to seek other resources. Hope this resource helps. It’s not an easy road for any step parent, and know that you’re not alone, more step parents should come together and be able to share similar struggles.

  • ddree says:

    Step parenting is difficult for sure. I told the boys (ages 5 & 9 at the time) I had never been a step parent and they had never had one so we would learn together. One was more resistant than the other which I’ve learned can be common.

    Disciplining the children is a challenge too, especially when you treat your kids differently than you treat your stepkids. It needs to be equal for sure. If you dont have children I think as the step parent you stand firm in settting and following boundaries but allow the biological parent to do the hard disciplining. I can’t stress enough for you and your spouse to communicate!!! Communication is the key (to all marriages and issues) so make sure you all are on the same page and if you’re not then compromise or let it go.

    Our boys are grown now. They turned out to be wonderful men, despite their parents. My best advice is – no matter what, never, ever say anything negative about their biological parent to them. Even if you’re defending yourself. Don’t retaliate or put the kids in the middle. It’s not worth it. Leave the communication to their two biological parents if at all possible (or attorneys which was unfortunately the case in our situation)

  • Leroy Tillman Jr. says:

    In my first marriage I was a step parent to a 5 year old girl and 12 year old girl that lived with her dad before moving with us. I dont know where I learned the parenting skills from. However, we all had a great time the 5 year old Theresa Najera-Tillman I adooted her she is 3rd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo teaching her at my school was awesome. When she went off to college I was so proud, her and her mom was distant. So, we spent a lot of time training, and traveling during her taekwondo career. I was grateful to hear her say,”If you hadn’t been here I couldn’t have made it through life”. Her oldest sister was hell on ice, very outspoken however, i had a pretty tough life. So, we did great and today she and her sister always talk with me even after me and there mom divorced. Now my second marriage is a little bit different. The two boys are wild literally and have hardly any discipline. At first I was shocked and wondering what I would do if not how to leave lol…

    However, I used my kids (mia 10, nayla 6, and leroy 5) from my previous marriage to make a connection with my new and last wife kids ( elias 5, and eli 8). After seeing their new brothers and sisters behave. They kind of fail into place my 10 year old basically is like a mom my little helper. She laid down the rules about daddy and they just followed her instructions

    Now they are so much more disciplined and one day they called me dad… So, things gas been great.

    My advice is for younger kids ages 1-12, just love them a little more be firm as you would with your children. Spend a great deal of time talking with them and having fun with them to open the doors so to speak. Use those opportunities to be a friend that cares and help them navigate. Also, be honest about your parenting style rules or boundaries they will understand if you are consistent and your partner agrees and backs you.

    With teens more talking even if they dont want to i left my step daughter letters and went to her school during my work ours.

    I even went to her cheerlead stuff in highschool sometimes without her mom. I supported her ideas and dreams.

    Final note: Be more of a loving parent no matter the pain they will love you overtime.

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