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Because family life matters

Top tips for step-parents

Here's a few ideas to help you to build strong bonds in your step-family

  • Don’t force the pace! It takes time for stepfamilies to feel comfortable together.
  • Make it safe for the children to talk about their feelings and grieve their losses. Failure to grieve can result in anger and alienation.
  • Don’t rubbish your ‘ex’ in front of the children. They want to be loyal to both of you and don’t want to take sides.
  • A non-resident child needs to feel part of the family, not just a ‘visitor’. Put their school photo, trophies, drawings etc on show. Also display photos of things you’ve done together as a family so that you can start to build new memories.
  • Agree with your partner how you will parent your children together and what your roles will be as parent and step-parent. This will help children to adjust to a new authority figure gradually, without worrying that the new step-parent will immediately ‘replace’ their other mother or father.
  • Involve children in family chores. Giving them a choice of job helps them to co-operate.
  • Remember that all children and teenagers need their own space, friends and activities. Let them invite a friend to stay occasionally if possible.
  • Make sure that the birth parent and their child can have some time on their own together now and again.