Getting on with your Child’s Step-parent

When it comes to step-families, there is plenty of advice out there on how to be a good step-parent. And there is also advice for kids to help them get on with a new step-mum or step-dad. The issue that is often forgotten is that it’s also important that biological parents get on with the new step-parent too.If your ex has remarried or is in a long-term relationship and you have kids together, then it’s important for everyone that you can build a positive relationship with their new partner.

Of course, getting on with your ex’s new love is probably one of the most difficult relationship challenges but if children are involved, it’s worth making the effort to try and get along.

Things can be even more complex if your child lives with a step-parent for part of the week, or spends holidays with a step-family. It can be difficult to see your child living with someone you don’t know that well.

The key is good communication. If you’ve recently split up from a long-term partner, the last thing you’ll want to do is get to know their new girlfriend or boyfriend. But if their relationship becomes serious and you see that this new person is going to be a part of your children’s lives, then it is worth taking the time to bond with the new partner. If you can have a civil and grown-up relationship, your children will feel more secure and be happier with the changing dynamics of their family life.

Don’t make assumptions
It can be tempting to automatically dislike your ex’s partner without taking the time to get to know them. Instead of assuming that you won’t get on, try seeing them as a potential friend and don’t let any differences you have with your ex impact on your initial assessment of their new partner.

Be civil (even when you don’t feel it)
Set a good example for your children by always being polite when you speak to their step-parent and don’t bad-mouth them in front of the kids. If your children pick up on the fact that you don’t like their step-parent, they may feel that they have to dislike them too in order to show loyalty to you and this can make things difficult for everyone.

Clear communication
If your kids spend part of the week with a step-parent, then communication is essential. You all need to know if your child is upset about something or if they are having trouble at school. Don’t avoid having conversations with your ex and their new partner – make the time to chat so that you can all work together to support your children.

Don’t use your children as pawns or spies
If you don’t get on with your child’s step-parent, resist the temptation to drag your kids into any drama or confrontation that you may be experiencing. Of course, you’ll want to ask questions to make sure that your children are happy but don’t probe them for gossip about your ex and their new partner. Even young children can pick up on your real motives for asking particular questions and may feel that they have to lie to protect your feelings.

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