Home > Mom's Life > Family Relationships > Nontraditional Families > Stepfamilies > Twelve Secrets for Successful Stepparenting

Twelve Secrets for Successful Stepparenting

  • Be flexible
    The happiest and least stressed stepfamilies seem to be those in which all the members are flexible and willing to compromise when necessary. This includes being willing to change plans when needed. With so many individuals in their lives—including the other biological parent, stepsiblings, half siblings, and extended family—schedules often don't adhere to a rigid timetable. While routine is important, especially for younger children, the ability to adapt creates a less stressful environment for everyone. It's a good idea for all of us.

    Realize too that a "bonus baby" coming into the family will change your lives once again. Fortunately, most blended families said the changes created by the arrival of an "our baby" were positive for the most part.

    "The twins sort of solidified our blended family," said a mother with a daughter from a previous marriage and two stepsons. "They were everyone's babies and quickly became 'our babies' for the entire family. We found less sibling jealousy than our friends had in their nuclear families. I guess our kids were more used to sharing before the babies were born."

  • Be patient
    Stepparents must move slowly, planting the seeds of love and helping them to grow through respect, caring, and appropriate affection. It usually doesn't happen quickly, just as any tender plant grows in its own time.

    Patience indeed is a virtue, one that every stepparent must develop. It's often hard, especially when you feel as though you are doing everything you can to befriend your stepchildren and they don't seem to appreciate any of it. The cruel fact is, they may never give you what you want or need in return. Many of the adult stepchildren interviewed said it wasn't until they themselves were grown (and some of them became stepparents), that they fully appreciated the effort made by their stepparent. Some of them even shared that discovery with their stepparent.

    Be patient, and even if you don't develop the relationship you would have preferred, take comfort in the knowledge that you have done your very best. Try not to overreact over real or imagined slights. All kids tend to be somewhat thoughtless and even cruel at times. You don't have to be a stepparent to feel unappreciated by your kids.

  • |

    From Blending Families by Elaine Fantle Shimberg. Copyright 1999. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

    If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.

    stay connected

    Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

    Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

    Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

    editor’s picks

    family games

    Everything you need for family game night!


    The Latest and Greatest Book for Kids
    Search our interactive Book Finder for the top new books for kids of all ages, brought to you by the latest book in the I, Funny series, "I Totally Funniest."

    Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
    Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

    Top 10 Wintertime Neighborhood Games
    Who says you have to stay inside when the temperature drops? Snowy weather is a great excuse to round up your neighborhood for some outdoor winter fun and games.

    2015 Family-Friendly Oscar Nominees
    The Oscar nominations are in, and they include several family-friendly movies. See which flicks earned a nod for Best Animated Feature Film and other awards.