Top Ten “To-Do’s” as a Step Parent

A step parent is not there to replace a parent, but to augment a child’s life experience. Step parents may be unclear as to what their roles and expectations are within the family.

Don’t insist that your step child refer to you as Mom or Dad. It should be the child’s choice not yours. Don’t try to be mother or father substitute.


Allow time for relationships to develop.

Allow the child to speak of the “other” parent and encourage and respect the relationship with the “other” parent and facilitate flexibility in visitation. A child should maintain affection for the “other” parent; don’t take it personally.

Expect ambivalence from a child, because feelings of love and hate by the stepchild may change every few hours or days.

Allow the child to appropriately express their difficulties with the new blended family or step parent.

If a child is actively involved in an extracurricular activity (sports, music, etc.) prioritize getting the child to the practice, game or event to minimize change in the child’s routine.

Treat all children involved equally… no “my child-your child” issues.

Determine and agree on a method of discipline and support the other parent when required.

Make it clear that the step parent is to be treated with respect.

Set a healthy example for how a marriage is supposed to work. This can provide stability for the child to observe a caring and loving home.

Do genuinely love your stepchild.

This advice might be accepted by emotionally healthy people trying to do the right thing as a step parent. Unfortunately, many people deal with emotionally very unhealthy ex-spouses and their new (equally unhealthy) spouses. I will devote an article to that fact scenario in an article in the near future.