Blended Families, Step Parenting

Positive Parenting Suggestions for New Step-fathers/Step-mothers

Our culture has more and more blended families everyday. While blended families bring some great new experiences to life, they also present some challenges. So what do you do when you suddenly become a new step-parent?

The first step in learning to discipline a new step-child is to NOT discipline the child. You are not the child’s parent, so you don’t have the natural bond that the child has with his or her biological parents. Your new spouse may be expecting you to suddenly take up the role of disciplinarian, but that is a recipe for disaster.

The first thing you need to do is develop a positive parenting relationship with your new step-child. Figure out what it is that your step-child likes to do, and participate in those activities with the child. Say your step-son plays baseball. Even if you don’t like baseball, attend his games. After the game take him out for ice cream. Tell him what a good job he did. Show your new step-child that you’re interested in him. Play with your new step-child. If you both love video games, play a video game together. Let him show you how to beat a game (Even if you’ve already beaten the game yourself 20 times!)

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The key to ultimately being able to effectively parent your new step-child is to build a Positive Parenting relationship from the start. You need to take the back seat when it comes to disciplining your step-child until you’ve solidified a positive parenting relationship with the child. A positive parenting relationship with your step-child should start with showing your step-child that you are genuinely interested in him and then move on to a place of mutual respect. As the years go by and your step-child learns to respect you, the discipline and parenting will naturally fall in place.

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Shannon is a licensed professional counselor and a national certified counselor and owner and clinical director of Tender Hearts Child Therapy Center in Cape Girardeau. He and several therapists at the center specialize in treating child and adolescent mental health issues in Southeast Missouri and work with parents using family therapy to develop parenting/discipline skills to deal with misbehavior and defiance. In his blog Shannon provides education on children's mental health topics and uses a question-and-answer forum for local parents to ask questions related to his field. Shannon can be reached at

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