700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

6 Tips to Be a Supportive Stepparent

May 07, 2020
Stepfather and stepdaughter doing arts and crafts

Taking two families and making them one is no doubt a challenging task. When you become a stepparent, it is normal to wonder if you should take the parent role right away or a wait-and-see approach. The answer is there is no right way to be a stepparent because it truly depends on your family.

Using these tools below can help you and your family navigate the transition and help you be the best stepparent you can be.

  1. Let your stepchild take the lead.

    This transition can be a tough time for kids. Jumping right in and forcing a relationship can make things worse. Be a supportive stepparent and follow your child’s lead. If they come to you, let them, and if they push back, let them.

    Remember, it takes a little longer for some kids to adjust than others, so do not be discouraged!

  2. Talk to them.

    Help your stepchild open up to you by talking to them! Ask them questions about themselves and get to know who they are. This will help establish that relationship.

    If you need help starting a conversation, check out these conversation starters.

  3. Show you care.

    Once they open up, take a genuine interest in them. Get to know their hobbies, friends and favorite subjects.

    Remember: kids can tell if you are truly interested, so show them you care and are grateful for them - and don’t fake it!

  4. Find a hobby together.

    Finding something to do with your stepchild will help your bond. Whether it is playing basketball outside, doing yoga, coloring, or taking walks around the block – aim for quality one-on-one time with your stepchild.

  5. Save adult matters for adult conversations.

    It is no doubt that this is a stressful time for kids. It can be hard for them to go back and forth between homes or feel like they are caught in the middle and having to choose sides. As a stepparent, you do not want to add more stress into their lives by talking to them about adult information.

  6. Establish your role.

    Younger kids may grant their stepparents parental status more quickly than older children. Know your stepchildren and what works for them. Younger kids may need a parental figure whereas older kids may be mature enough to deal with certain things on their own. Be patient, if they are reluctant. Show your love for them and be a supportive adult in their life.

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Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Emily Decker, MD
Primary Care Pediatrics

Dr. Emily is an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Urgent Care and Primary Care Clinics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She has a strong interest in child advocacy, and serves as the medical director for CAP4Kids Columbus.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.