Stepparenting is a Full Time Job
More parents are becoming stepparents, and adoption is an important consideration. But rather than making it a rite of passage for parents, making it a meaningful event for kids is tantamount.
With more and more families moving the way of the stepfamily due to rising divorce and remarriage rates as we head into 2013, more and more questions are being raised about the roles that stepmoms and dads should be playing in the lives of their stepsons and daughters. One thing for sure, the boundaries are harder to define when biological parents and stepparents are not on the same page, and the older the kids, the tougher the transition is likely to be on the new marriage as well.
One step that can be helpful for younger children is stepparent adoption of a new partner’s biological children. Studies suggest that the psychological affects on children can be powerful, and can offer a renewed sense of belonging where it may have gone missing due to a divorce, a move, or both.
John Rosemond of the Lewiston Tribune writes, “Contrary to the advice given by most mental health professionals, even Dr. Phil, the proper role of a stepparent is to be a responsible parent, with all the privileges and authority pertaining thereto. The operative word is the noun, ‘parent,’ not the prefix, ‘step.’” Perhaps one of the most assertive and outright steps we can take is bringing stepchildren officially into the family, and stepparent adoption preparation must be done with respect to other living biological parents when adoption is to be considered.
With stepparents becoming more and more important than ever before in the lives of growing children, child rearing falls more into the lap of stepmoms and dads everywhere—from carting kids to soccer practice to preparing dinner and planning birthday parties, the word “stepparent” is more now than ever a misnomer—the “step” as Rosemond suggests, is now secondary, not primary, and in many families, has gone the way of the horse and carriage.
For parents who are serious about being taken seriously, a stepparent adoption might be an important consideration. With that said, it’s not a gun that should be jumped, and if the idea of adoption is brought up too soon or too cavalierly, it can have the exact opposite impact we want it to. “Kids are sensitive to their surroundings and they generally know who is genuinely on their side,” says Cameron Sparks, a Central California-based child therapist. “Adoption is great… when the whole family is ready for it,” Sparks adds.
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