The following is a guest post from Gerardo Campbell, the mastermind behind the excellent blog Support for Stepdads. As a child who grew up with a stepdad (and who is likely getting another one very soon) I think this is an incredibly important discussion to have!
Did you know there are five times as many stepdads as stepmoms? This is according to the U.S. Council on Contemporary Families. Stepdads are a majority. Seriously? Well, this data is based on census figures which excluded stepmoms who don’t live in the same household with their stepchildren. This is usually the case for the majority of stepmoms who are partnered with the biological dad who usually has limited visitation. Also, stepmoms are not always made by an official marriage but then neither are some stepdads. Today, many divorced parents live together without getting remarried.
More Stressful Role – Stepdad or Stepmom
Who do you think has the more stressful and demanding role – stepdads or stepmoms? Here’s why I believe the stepmoms has it:
- Parental Responsibilities. Stepmoms take on many, if not all, of the responsibilities of the biological mom. A stepdads’ role is typically limited to that of breadwinner.
- Contact Time. Stepmoms usually don’t have as much contact time with the stepchildren because of the biological dads’ limited visitation schedule – holidays, weekends, etc. Stepmoms don’t have as much time to develop a relationship with their stepchildren.
- Loyalty Conflicts. Stepmoms seem to have more challenges in the relationships with their stepchildren. Some children feel they can’t accept their stepmom without negatively affecting their relationship with their biological mom.
Whether you’re a stepdad or stepmom your role is important and admirable since you didn’t have to be one. Out of love for your partner you made a decision to step in the gap left by the missing parent. If you’re contemplating becoming a stepparent you should prepare by educating yourself before you accept the responsibility. With nearly a 70% divorce rate for blended families this is not a commitment to be taken lightly.
Elements of Success for Stepdads and Stepmoms
The three most crucial things you can do to ensure your success in this role:
- Marriage First. The relationship with your partner is first and foremost. The biological parent should communicate to their children this change in their relationship. Present a unified front to your children when dealing with them. This is what you want your children to model in their future relationships.
- Parenting Styles. It’s essential to know the parenting style of you and your partner. You can take an online parenting quiz to determine your specific style. To create a unified approach to parenting, it’s essential you and your partner learn to cooperate as you combine various elements of your unique parenting style.
- Realistic Expectations. Many dating couples assume their first-marriage equipped them with everything they need to know to have a happy remarriage and parents who raised their own children assume they know how to be a stepparent. Generally speaking, neither is the case.
Support for Stepdads specifically addresses all the unique experiences, struggles and challenges that come with being a stepfather. If you’re a stepdad already, you know what I’m talking about! If your goal is to become a stepfather, you’ll learn things that will allow you to enter a blended family with your eyes wide open and with realistic expectations. This site has information and advice you can’t find anywhere else. Blogs about marriage, parenting, blended families, coping strategies and much more.