Stepparents are the unsung heroes of modern life, bringing in new perspectives and helping to bring children into the world. But what happens when these step parents become too involved? What happens when they take over the role of a parent, and a child’s relationship begins to crumble?
This article will look at scenarios where stepparents can get too involved in their children’s lives and the don’ts when parenting. Take a look.
Scenarios Where a Stepparent May Overstep
To successfully adopt a child, a stepparent must be prepared to give up the relationship with the child’s biological parent. In some cases, this is not an easy transition.
In many states, stepparents are required to file for adoption of their stepchild even if they do not want to be involved in the adoption process. The law in these states is designed to provide a smooth transition from one family unit to another and ensure that three-parent families can form.
However, there are times when a stepparent may feel overwhelmed by their new role and overstep boundaries with their stepchild. These scenarios may include:
Enforcing a Parenting Style
While most adults would probably prefer to have a good relationship with their stepparents, there are some instances where the stepparent may overstep their bounds. In such cases, it is important to understand the difference between the roles of the stepparent and parent.
It’s normal for a person to want to enforce their parenting style on children in their care. The problem arises when this becomes an issue of contention.
For example, if one parent is more hands-off than the other, the stepparent could take on more responsibility in discipline or caretaking. This can result in resentment between the two parents, making it difficult for them to interact with each other as a family unit.
The stepparent becomes overly protective of the child
A stepparent who becomes overly protective of the child may be acting out of love and concern, but it can still be detrimental to the child. A parent’s overprotective behavior can hurt their child’s development.
Similarly, this behavior can create tension between the stepparent and biological parent or other guardians trying to raise their child. The child may also grow up feeling that they cannot trust anyone, especially other adults.
Trying to Replace Their Parent
The stepparent may try to take over the parent’s role in the child’s life. This can be done by trying to replace the parent’s authority with the stepparent’s. The stepparent may be overly involved in a child’s life, which can cause problems between the parent and child.
Parents need to realize that they are still in charge of their children, even if they are married to another person.
- The stepparent takes legal matters into their own hands without consulting the biological parent or other guardians
Some stepparents feel they have a right to make decisions for their stepchildren, including legal matters like divorce, custody, and visitation rights. This is an issue because no one has more authority than another person when making decisions about a child’s life, including legal matters like divorce and custody battles.
If you disagree with your partner’s decision on these types of issues, it is best to speak up so that everyone involved can come together as a family unit instead of dividing into different camps with opposing views on how you should handle things in regards to your step child’s life.
Interfering with the child’s education
Another scenario in which a stepparent may overstep is interfering with your child’s education, either through neglecting or abusing them or forcing them into religious studies that do not agree with your beliefs.
In this case, you can argue that you’re being bullied by your stepchild’s father and are being forced against your will into raising them; this could potentially be grounds for divorce and custody disputes if there were other factors involved (such as abuse).
What Step Parents Should Not Do
Here are don’ts when stepparenting.
- Don’t act like the biological parent
Although trying to fill the role of your ex-spouse may be tempting, it will only cause your child to feel confused and unsure about where their relationship with their biological parent ends and yours begins.
Your stepchild needs to know that they still have two parents who love them and want what is best for them.
- Don’t play favorites
It’s not fair to the kids, and it’s not fair to the parents. If you have children with different temperaments, don’t make one child your favorite and the other your least favorite. They’ll resent you for it, and they’ll resent their siblings for it, too.
- Don’t threaten their freedom or privacy
The best way for a stepparent to gain control over a stepchild is by helping them make positive changes in their life. This means giving them the freedom to make choices without any influence or interference.
- Don’t try to control their lives and make decisions for them
Your stepchildren must be able to make their own choices, especially regarding relationships with others. As much as it might hurt, you need to let go of the idea that you know what is best for your stepchild — especially if they are dating someone else.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep
Don’t promise something that you can’t give them. It’s important to respect boundaries, both physical and emotional. You have a responsibility as a parent to set rules and boundaries with your child, even if they’re not always followed. You also have a responsibility as a parent to protect their feelings by respecting their wishes and following through on what they ask for (within reason).
- Don’t be pushy about religion and morals
Your stepson or stepdaughter should feel comfortable around you both religiously and morally. They need to have someone in their life who will support them no matter what decisions they make at their age.
- Don’t ignore the child’s needs and wishes
The natural bond between a biological parent and the child is so strong that you can never break it, even by divorce. Step parents must respect that bond, however distant it may be, or they risk losing their adopted child or children altogether.
Ultimately, the number one thing that parents need to remember is that they are not raising a child who is “theirs,” but one who is “theirs and their partner’s.” Kids will sense too much involvement on the part of their stepparent and become uncomfortable.
In most cases, the child should separate her biological parent(s) from their stepparent. The stepparent should be there to support the family unit as a whole and not reinforce an unhealthy attachment to him or herself.