Family Forum: Step-Parent Anxiety

How much involvement should a step-parent have?


As a step-parent, how much should I be involved in my husband’s relationship with his kids from another marriage? My husband has two children, aged four and six, from a previous marriage.

We have been married for six months and together for 18 months. I have no children of my own and I am feeling very unsure about my role with his kids. The kids are here with us five nights in a fortnight and they are lovely kids.

I also have to say that their mother is a great mum and she was very welcoming of me. I don’t want to overstep my boundaries. I find that when the kids are here the youngest in particular, I feel, asks for my involvement more than she asks her dad. I have tried to talk to my husband about it but he just says that he doesn’t mind what I do, if the kids ask for my help he is happy for me to give it. I just feel like I might mess this all up.


It seems that you are adapting very well to your role as step-parent and experiencing normal low-level anxiety due to the newness of the situation.

Trust your instincts and go ahead and enjoy being involved as much as you choose when the four and six-year-old are in you and your new husband’s care.

Given the children are quite young they will no doubt form a bond to you, and you to them.

If you develop concerns about your husband’s lower level of involvement, perhaps you can suggest activities that involve all four of you.

Ideally, he should be contributing to their care in a way that results in the workload being shared, for example, either in preparing meals and/or cleaning up. Likewise, it is important for him to show his care through activities such as reading a story at bedtime, and giving hugs and showing affection to the children.

If you are interested in attending courses or having “coaching” to assist you to become a more confident step-parent you can undertake a search on the internet to see what is available in your area.

Likewise, there are books available on the topic of step-parenting and online support sites that may also be useful, particularly if difficult or non-cooperative behaviour emerges. Most importantly enjoy these early years and try to not worry. It also sounds as if the biological mother of the children will be a useful resource and be able to provide you with guidance if you choose to ask her. Good luck!

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