Today, society is filled with stepparents and stepchildren. This is an era of mixed families and although at times this is a blessing to women, men and children, there are other times that this arrangement is far from that. It is not always necessarily that any of the parties involved wish it to be less than ideal, but simply that it is not easy to mix families.
When it comes to stepparents and stepchildren, boundaries are a huge issue and one that is not easily figured out in most cases. Boundaries are in essence rules and regulations which are set for the general purpose of keeping the home and the family running smoothly. However, it can be very difficult for stepparents to figure out where they fit into the making of and the enacting of these rules and boundaries, no matter how much they wish to have a healthy and functional family unit.The following are some suggestions that may assist stepparents in their quest of creating whole and healthy blended families.
Suggestion number one is regarding the boundaries that should be in place by common sense, but, unfortunately, aren't always. Stepparents should never make jokes of a sexual nature towards their stepchildren. This is simply inappropriate in every way and is not acceptable. Even statements that might be regarded as humorous in the midst of other adults should never be shared with stepchildren, no matter how much you want to relate to them. These types of comments, jokes, or statements are totally outside of the parenting boundaries.
Discipline is another issue that blended families face and have to work out. In most common circumstances, it is best for the biological parent to take the lead in all discipline. The newcomer, "stepparent", is not generally in a position to take the lead int he family regarding discipline unless he or she has been in the family's life from the time that the children were very young, such as pre-school age. Even when this is the case, all parents involved whether biological or step, should agree on the forms of discipline and the reasons for the administration of it.
Another important boundary is that stepparents should never talk negatively about the children's biological parent who is not in the home. This can lead to a lot of anger and resentment between the stepparent and the stepchildren. No matter what, there is generally a sense of loyalty for the biological parent and the child will not respect a stepparent who engages in trash talking about him or her.
Finally, stepparents should establish boundaries as to the relationship that they wish to have with the stepchildren. Although a parent, a stepparent is not the same as a biological parent. On the other hand, a stepparent is not just a friend to the stepchildren although the relationship may be one of friendship. It is not always easy to establish what the exact relationship will be, but it should be established early on. Discussion should take place between the married couple regarding this and then as a family unit so that everyone is clear about their positions in the family and how they are going to interact most effectively and in a healthy manner.