Being a stepfather is not an easy task. There are often impossible expectations resting on their shoulders just because they are "the man of the house."
Discipline is often viewed as the stepfathers role. This can be very hard because the stepchild may view obedience to the stepfather as disloyalty to the bio father. Stepfathers may feel like they need to overdo discipline and parenting with a strict posture in order to gain compliance and therefore be a successful stepfather. Typically, this strict posture backfires either by non-compliance or by the stepchild building resentment over time.
Another challenge for stepfathers is knowing how to balance the emotional/relational distance with their stepchildren. How close can I get? How close should I get? How "mine" are my stepchildren?
This leads into the question of what extent stepfathers should "claim" their stepchildren.
What parents had to say:
These are the very same issues that my husband deals with as well. He has become the strict step-father and our (his step-daughter) daughter is resentful and does not feel any love from him. I do understand where he is coming from and he is struggling to find that balance.
Balance is a great thing. However, it is not something you come to and remain there easily. Imagine standing on a basketball. Tough thing to do. Now, if you do find your balance, it does not mean that you are going to remain there. All it means is that you had balance once.
A balance beam might be a better anaolgy. With practice, a gymnast gets really good at balancing on that beam. However, she must not get careless or assume balance. It must be maintained. Balance is an active verb, not a description. Balance yourself.
My husband struggles with the same issue. My ex is very involved with my kids but I feel very strongly that we must provide a unified front with discipline. He isn't sure where the boundaries are, but we are working on it. I think it's really important for us moms to support our husbands in this, and not disagree in front of our kids.
I am a step dad to one very wonderful little guy and my ex remarried, my bio children stay mainly with her. Sad point is her new husband has very little comprehension of the needs of children - even his own boys. Even worse, my ex and him are alienating all four children against both myself and his two boys.
I too am a stepfather. I fell in love with with stepson's mother, and would do anything for her. I have never loved so much in my life. My stepson, while a good kid, he is now 10, is the definition of hyperactive. He will also test me by doing things he isn't to do, like go in my private office at home, and close off the cooling vents. We go round and round, with good days and not so good. I know my wife is worried, and is withdrawing from me because she doesn't understand why I am having such a difficult time with her son, who never leaves her side, nor does she leave his. She still puts him to bed every night until he falls asleep, leaving little time, if any, for us. This has been going on since we got marrried, 3 years ago.I love my wife. I want our marriage to work. Where is the balance?