Stepfathers are a fact of life in america today.

Stepfathers are a fact of life in America today. How men handle their new role as stepfathers affects many people and situations.


Stepfather: A Fact of Life in America!

Chris Wilson

Many men have trouble making the transition to stepdad. Stepfathers who are most successful make no real attempt to control the child’s behavior or become the disciplinarian in the family.

Since over 50% of mothers are still awarded physical custody of their children, men assume the live-in stepparent role in the majority of cases.

How men handle their new role as stepfathers affects many people and situations:

  • Their happiness in the new marriage.

  • Their partners’ satisfaction in the new marriage.

  • Their new stepfamily.

  • The lives of their new stepchildren.

  • The lives of their biological children, if any.

Even the life of an ex-wife is affected by the man’s role as stepfather.

Quite a responsibility for one guy!

Many men have trouble making the transition to stepdad.

Some try too much too quickly; others try and are rebuked, and retreat into a shell. Still other remain relatively disengaged from the stepchildren.

The optimum stepparent is warm and responsive, while communicating well and generating firm, consistent discipline.

The arrival of a stepfather in any family is almost guaranteed to create tensions in the new stepfamily.

Gradually building a relationship with stepchildren, especially those over four or five years of age, is the best way to succeed.



How men handle their new role as stepfathers affects many people and situations.

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Tread softly and carry no stick is the order of the day here.

Stepfathers who were successful made no real attempt to control the child’s behavior or become the disciplinarian in the family.

The successful stepfather,  in most instances, first worked at cementing a positive relationship with the children’s mother while supporting her in her parenting.

Of course, the children themselves, their ages, their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses also contribute to the outcome of the stepfamily. As does the mother herself.

What say you?
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CyberParent: Readers Comment

I definitely agree with this article.   I do believe, however, that the article doesn’t touch on some other important things.  Certainly it is his responsibility to be "warm and responsive, while communicating well and generating firm, consistent discipline" among other things, however, the mother has many responsibilities of her own.  Mainly, in my opinion, to maintain the integrity of her own disciplinary efforts and house rules etc. and to continue to make it clear to her child/ren that they come first despite the new relationship.  I’ve know many mothers who try to create a new, happy "instant family" and if you ask me, that’s close to impossible and almost always ends in unhappiness or unecessary stress. As well, a mother who isn’t too eager to enter a new relationship for whatever reason, and instead puts her children’s needs and feelings first, provides a strong message and becomes a good role model for both boys and girls in their future relationships. 
I also believe strongly that it is important for the new boyfriend/stepfather to respect the biological father (if he is a positive factor), his role, and his likely apprehension at having a new "man" in his kid’s lives.  In my experience this apprehension will turn to mutual respect and caring for the child/ren if done slowly and responsibly.
The relationship should definitely start with the man and woman themselves, forming a strong bond (outside of family time).  I think it’s important that the new man be introduced very slowly to allow all parties to adjust, way before marriage is even a thought, to ensure the new relationship is likely to last, and to ensure the stepfather can handle the responsibilities!  Once a mature and loving relationship is formed between adult and child (I believe this should also happen way before marriage), then joint discipline can be introduced without major upheaval in the child’s life and those around them.  I think most would agree that the only thing worse than having to end a marriage when children are involved – is ending a second or third relationship, once children have again and again become attached. 
I am a young mother of a seven year old son, soon to marry a person I’ve been with for over 4 years!  This is how long it has taken for me to be sure that I would be making the right decision by letting this man in our lives.  We maintain a fairly friendly relationship with the biological father and his new family as well, and I believe the key to our success has been the gradual introduction as the article states.  My son has benefitted greatly I believe by introducing a whole new network of family and loved ones, while still providing him with a stable home life and a mother who is deeply in love and happy!

   Brandy T.

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Returnto Stepparents Directory.

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