Co-parenting is a hot topic around here and we’ve covered things like communication issues, navigating holidays and summer break, and ways to move forward on your own. But we haven’t quite touched on the topic of step-parents.

What happens when you or your spouse decides to remarry?

It’s only natural that relationships and dynamics will shift as your now extended family (notice I didn’t say broken family) makes room for this new person.

How you approach it is completely up to you!

You have the great opportunity to create a larger family, new partnerships, and introduce a new role model into your children’s lives. Or you have the chance to add more tension, heartache, and arguments. 

I was recently inspired by an article that outlined the strong bond between a girl's mother and her stepmother,  and I think it’s time we approach this topic in more detail. 

We can learn several lessons from how this family chooses to come together in a situation that can be strained, full of emotion, and difficult at times.

Here’s what I think are the biggest lessons from this article and these two women:

Perspective and Choice
The mother recognizes the stepmom is standing in for her when she can’t be with her child. Instead of seeing the stepmom as a threat to the relationship between a mother and child, the mom chooses to view it as a positive that her daughter has another female role model in her life.

Lesson: it’s all in how you look at it! Meeting the situation with warmth and positivity will begin to establish a foundation for a stronger relationship. 

Recognition and Gratitude
The mom in this situation makes a point to thank her daughter’s stepmom for all of her help and the ways she has impacted her daughter’s life. She not only chooses to see the stepmom as another role model and partner in helping her raise her child, she actively recognizes this woman’s contributions and thanks her.

Letting someone know you appreciate them is always a welcomed exercise! Many of us simply want to be recognized for our efforts and to know that someone sees all of the work we put into things.

Lesson: look for ways the stepparent is contributing and recognize him/her for that. Show your appreciation to them whenever possible.  

Personal Growth
The article points out the emotional maturity of both of these women to put aside their own past hurts and immediate biological instincts to reject the other. This simply wouldn’t work if these women were caught up too much in their own issues and emotions to turn the focus towards choice. They’ve made the choice to grow as people and therefore grow the family together.

Lesson: it takes a lot of maturity to put the past in the past and focus on building a strong future. Do what you need to in order to take care of yourself and continue your own personal growth. 

Both women are clear that the children come first. It’s about raising an amazing young woman and they’re sure to keep the focus on her instead of their own needs. This attention on the task at hand creates a bond that allows the women to become teammates with one common goal.

Lesson: it’s easier to let the emotions, past, and tensions go when you place the focus on your children first. Remember that the number one goal is to raise your children to the best of your ability. 

This all takes practice as your family adjusts to these new dynamics, but know that it’s possible to create a powerful environment that works for all parties involved if you’re committed to choosing a better way.