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Raise Healthy Children: How to Get Started as a Stepparent

Blended families are complex. Knowing how to deal with your stepchild is essential to the success of your new marriage. As well, when you consider the affects of divorce on children, it is essential that you are now a positive force in the lives of your stepchild or stepchildren. 

Stepparents often have a difficult time defining their roles in dealing with a child of their new partner. This is especially true in the beginning of the relationship when "authority" and "the right to discipline" have not been established. This is a good exercise to get you started correctly with this new and important relationship.

This exercise suggests that you – as a stepparent – think of your role as “roommate.” Even if you don’t want to define your role this way, thinking in those terms may empower you to interact successfully with your stepchild.

Answer the following questions. Record your results below.

You may want to print this exercise for ease of use. Click the Print Friendly button above. From there you can also format this exercise into a PDF file or email it to a friend. Note: Printing from a computer works best.

List five responsibilities you think are reasonable as a sensitive and responsible roommate.







What are five things you expect from a roommate?







What do you do when a roommate doesn’t fulfill his or her responsibilities?




How would you approach your roommate if he or she were not behaving as a good citizen in your shared home?





How would you motivate your roommate to cooperate in doing chores?





What would you do to avoid expressions of anger when discussing problems with your roommate?





Your answers suggest a style of interactions you can use with your stepchild.

Hopefully, depending on the age of your stepchild and the opinion of your new partner, you will eventually function more like a "birthparent."