Becoming a step parent involves not only taking on someone else’s children but also someone else’s family and extended family.
If you don’t have children of your own this can come as quite a shock and you may feel unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with everything life is now throwing at you.
If on the other hand you do have children of your own as well you may face difficulties trying to blend and accommodate 2 separate sets of needs, desires, time tables and idiosyncrasies, not to mention, food, bedtimes rituals etc
This is all before you have even begun to think about yourself, your needs and your relationship with your partner.
Your relationship, the reason you are there in the first place can get lost in all this and all the stuff you are now having to deal with.
Step parenting is different from parenting.
When you have a biological baby before its born you spend time longing for the child and wondering about what it will be like, you wonder what it what will it look like, will it be a boy or girl, what will it grow up to be, will it look like you or your partner, it’s usually a shared experience and many of your hopes and wishes are bound up in it.
When the child is born you bond with it, you share the birth and begin to build a new family culture together.
Step children arrive in your life older, not necessarily longed for, with established cultures often different to your own.
You may find you have nothing in common with them and that you see the world differently to each other.
This can make it difficult to bond with them.
At the same time there are often expectations which need to be understood and managed.
Your expectations – what did you think step parenting would be like?
Does it live up to those expectations?
Your partner’s expectations, did he / she expect you to love their children the same way they do, do you love them, if not how does it make you feel?
What did the children expect, what did the extended family expect?
On top of all that you have to think about the roles you are going to adopt in this new family.
There are many things to be considered when trying to blend these two different family cultures, rituals and expectation.
However, it’s not all bad news and difficulties, step parenting can bring joys and highs to family life and can be an enriching and fulfilling experience.