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A Stepfather Gets No Respect

April 19, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 204

Rodney Dangerfield would frequently lament, "I get no respect" and he wasn't even a stepfather! Just like his biological counterpart, a stepfather may have to deal with negative behaviors like manipulation, lying, and outright defiance. However, lacking the "moral authority" to parent as your biological counterpart makes dealing with these nasty behaviors particularly challenging but not insurmountable. Just because you are the "stepfather" you are not obligated to be the family doormat.

The Foundation

These are the pieces needed to build a foundation of respect for the stepfather and family.

  • Respectful Behavior. It is absolutely essential you and your wife are in agreement, obedience and respectful behavior toward you and everyone else in the family is the required minimum standard.
  • Wife Disciplines. Your wife must be willing to discipline her children each and every time her children speak disrespectfully, ignore, or disobey you. For her not to do so, is giving her children tacit permission to continue and even escalate their behaviors.
  • Stepfather Given Moral Authority. Your wife must give you the "moral authority" to parent her children. Her children need to understand that clearly. Develop a relationship with the kid's biological father with the goal of enlisting his support in communicating the same message to his children.
  • Handling Mistakes. Invariably, you will make a mistake by saying and/or doing the wrong thing. In those instances, your wife should bring these mistakes to your attention privately rather than in front of the children. Correction in front of the children undermines your authority. Be sure to follow through by making amends to the child you offended in front of all those present at the time of the offense.

Reasonable Expectations

What are your expectations regarding the children's behavior? Are they based on how you were raised? Are you expecting your stepchildren to behave based on the way you had to behave? How reasonable are your expectations beyond respectful behavior?

Depending on when you enter your stepchildren lives it may be unreasonable to expect anything beyond respectful behavior. When assuming responsibilities as head of your new family, please be patient and discuss any changes you're considering with your wife.

Ensure your wife is completely onboard with any changes you would like to make. Suggest waiting for at least six months before making any changes; remember you're entering a new family system with established rules and standards of behavior. It's wise to take time to observe how things work or don't work before suggesting changes.

Setting a Great Example

It's important for you to give respect first, if you expect to receive it. Regardless of what you may be thinking and feeling inside you must set the proper example. If you are constantly yelling at your kids, losing your temper, cursing and trying to manipulate them into doing as you said, is it any surprise your children respond in kind? You, their stepfather, are teaching them to act that way by you own example. When you speak in a respectful and calm manner, chances are good they will respond in kind.

Praise your stepchildren when you notice them behaving in a respectful manner. For example, if you catch your stepson holding the car door open for this mom, sister, or a stranger be sure to compliment them for it. Reinforce all instances of respectful behavior with praise and/or reward.

Be sure to treat your wife with dignity and respect - to treat her otherwise is not setting a proper example and will practically guarantee her children will give you a hard way to go.

Teachable Moments

If you and your children are witness to other children acting in a very disrespectful manner, point that out too. Ask them what went wrong and what should have been done. Additionally, acknowledge when they do not show respect to someone, and have them make suggestions on what they should have done and/or said instead. Be sure to make use of positive reinforcement when they identify what should have been said and/or done.

Going Forward

You are partnered with your wife and hopefully their biological father to raise the children into responsible adults. You are modeling behavior of a united married couple before your stepchildren. Behavior you want them to model when they become married and parents. Do not be drawn in by negative behavior by responding in kind. If you find yourself losing it, leave the area and take a walk or do whatever is necessary to let off steam. When you make a mistake, be humble by apologizing and asking for forgiveness.

For men who didn't have to be - being a stepfather is one of the most challenging jobs around and it's a role not clearly defined. There is no standard operating procedures for stepfathers and having the best intentions and crossed fingers isn't enough to be a successful. I know I lived it. Studies show nearly 65% of all second marriages involve children but tragically nearly 70% of these marriages will end in divorce often as a result of the added pressures stepfamilies face. Support for Stepfathers,, is like "marriage insurance" - where you'll receive informative content, tools, unique insights and support that will help you be aware of and overcome the challenges unique to the blended family. Through this blog I share with you my experience, my lessons learned and the lessons learned from others. It is possible to be a successful stepfather and have a thriving blended family. Don't allow your family to become another statistic.

Source: EzineArticles
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Respectful Behavior


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Moral Authority

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