Being a stepparent is a gifted experience. You are the additional parent to a child(ren). Here is what you need to understand about your role and position:
You Signed Up For This
Yes, I am saying it. When you decided to marry your significant other, that includes the child(ren) too. It may not be an easy transition if you do not have child(ren) prior to the relationship, however, this is your new life. Include your step-children in all that you do. Make them FEEL included. If the relationship is strained, work on it.
Don’t Give Up
Although all situations are vastly different, its important that you do not give up on the child(ren). Sometimes child(ren) can carry the anguish of their biological parents not being together and they can place the blame on the step parents. This can be a difficult situation, nevertheless, keep trying.
If you are having issues with you step-child(ren) give it time. Depending on the circumstances, the child(ren) may need time to heal from the situation, and that is perfectly normal and okay. Allow them to have that time and communicate that to them. Let them know you are not giving up and you understand the situation may be difficult to navigate through. Let them know you are always available for conversations and you are there to love and support them no different than their biological parents.
You Are Not The Replacement
Remember you are not replacing the biological parent. You are the individual that is responsible for them in the absence of the biological parent, so that makes you their additional parent. Do not approach the situation with a stern heart, rather be available to them but not pushy. Make it understood that your role is not the replacement, however, you are acting as the parent in an effort to love, support and protect, not replace.
Cultivate Your Own Rhythm
Because these sorts of relationships are all unique, it's important that you find your own rhythm. You may not be able to use the same approach as the your friend or neighbor. Its detrimental to your situation that you have a clear understanding and you decide how you would like to handle it. Just as motherhood, everyone's journey into joining that club is different and it requires finding a rhythm that is tailored to the specific situation.
You can define how your relationship will pan out with your step-child(ren). It may not be a perfect situation however, you want it to be a relationship where you understand one another, you are aware of boundaries and there is respect. The ultimate goal is to have a healthy relationship so that it does not weigh heavy on your marriage or the child(ren) involved. IF there are issues that seem too complex for you to handle alone, do not shy away from family counseling. This is a sign that you care about your family, you want the issues to get better and you are dedicated. Nurture your situation and keep it as a priority.