There are all kinds of families in Tennessee, including families with stepparents and stepchildren. First-time stepparents can have a hard time adjusting to their new roles and lives.

To help with the transition, KidsHealth provides several suggestions for adults looking to become stepparents to their partner’s or spouse’s children. A little advice can help ensure the family is a happy one, no matter how everyone is related.

Considerations that impact the relationship

Several factors have a part to play in the stepparent-stepchild relationship. For instance, stepparents have to consider a child’s age, how long they have known the child, how often they interact with the child and the type of relationship the biological parent has with the other parent.

Things have to start slow

It can take time before kids warm up to a stepparent. During that adjustment period, the child may test the stepparent’s patience and self-esteem. Much like a romantic relationship, the relationship between stepchildren and stepparents has to develop naturally; you cannot force it.

“Needs” trump “wants.”

Nearly every parent wants “cool parent” status. That said, stepparents have to concentrate on a child’s needs first and wants second. Offering toys, money, special favors and the like may make kids smile, but going to such measures may not provide the foundation for a stable and lasting relationship.

Extend respect to the other parent

Besides the children, stepparents also have to remember to form a relationship with the other parent. Stepparents should show respect to the other parent. Additionally, the other parent’s relationship with her or his biological children also deserves respect.

As stepparents work on their connection with their stepchildren, they must not neglect the relationship with their partner. The couple helps sets the tone for all other familial bonds.