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One of the most difficult tasks for anyone is to assume the role of stepparent. The hurdles you and the child must overcome are daunting. The only way in which you can achieve a successful and meaningful relationship with the child is to slowly ease into your role as a stepparent.

As a child, losing a parent can be traumatic. Further, having that parent replaced by a stranger can cause a child serious emotional problems. If the child is very young, becoming their stepparent can be relatively easy. However, for an older child – there are issues which you, as a stepparent, may face on a daily basis. It will be difficult, but not impossible to eventually forge a bond with the child.

A stepparent needs to be patient, loving and careful not to quickly come across as someone who is replacing the lost parent. It has to be clearly stated from the outset that you are not taking over as the child’s mom or dad; that you can never replace them in any way. In addition, you have to give the child time to mourn and recover from the loss.

You will no doubt experience opposition, and even contempt. It’s natural for a child to feel this way.

Once you begin a dialogue with the child, reassure him or her you are not asking to be called mom or dad; that you are not, nor can never be the mom or dad they once had; and you would like to begin a relationship based on friendship. Another key factor is that the child needs to trust you. One of the most frightening aspects to losing a parent is the prospect of losing the other. It must be made clear you are not taking mom or dad away; but would like to become a friend; someone the child can talk to; confide in; trust.

When talking to a child, listen. Do not make demands on the child as this will only alienate you from him or her. Allow the child time to heal; then and only then will he or she see you not as a threat, but as someone who cares and is willing to love and be there when needed. It will take a great amount of patience. You will not be accepted so easily. There will be many tests which a child will use to ascertain your worthiness as a stepparent. Take it one day at a time; keep an open mind and heart, and you will both prevail.

As stated from the outset, slowly ease into your role as a stepparent. The time, love, patience, and commitment you put forth into making the family whole again will be a struggle, but the end result will be worth everything.


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