I am not going to lie, ladies; living with a stepparent is no easy task to someone new to it in their early 20s, or at any age for that matter. My Mom remarried someone truly wonderful several years ago, and though my parents had been divorced for some time and still remained friends, it was still a major life adjustment living with a stepparent. Here recently, I’ve become aware of how large of an issue this is in today’s culture. Stepparents can be a real blessing, and other times, it can challenging to learn to live with someone you’re not quite accustomed to yet. Try these tips below if you find yourself going crazy over the differences between you and your stepparent. Chances are, with time, you’ll learn to not only be able to live with them, but appreciate them more too.
1. Keep Your Mouth Closed
One of the hardest things for me to learn to do when living with a stepparent was to keep my mouth closed whenever a negative thought entered my mind regarding my stepdad's actions or habits. If something gets on your nerves that your stepparent does, don’t voice your opinion at the drop of a hat. What you say can not only make things harder and more difficult in the household, but also create a consistent tension between your family. Practice keeping your mouth closed and know that your complaining won’t help, but will only make things worse. It doesn’t mean your opinion or feelings don’t matter, but you should still show respect by simply letting go of what bothers you instead of being rude to them.
2. Find Common Interests
When my stepdad first moved into our home, I thought we had nothing in common, and on an overall basis, we don’t. Yet, I still tried my best to find common interests between the two of us. For instance, a few Christmases ago, I discovered we both are great at going into a store and picking out a gift quickly for someone instead of lingering in the aisles for hours in confusion. We went shopping together for my Mom and he was amazed at how much like him I was in this area. We enjoy some of the same types of music as well, which makes for easy conversation during difficult times. He may get on my nerves and I know I get on his, but we still have common interests, no matter how small. Try to find any common interest you can in your stepparent. It truly will help things when they become tedious.
3. Remember They Are Human
One thing that helps me live with a stepparent is to remember my stepdad is human and will have flaws just as I do. He doesn’t have to be perfect for me, just like my Dad wasn’t perfect. It is easy to tell yourself they do everything wrong and annoy you to no end, yet in the grand scheme of things, they’re simply different. Remember, they are human and are entitled to being different from you.
4. Talk to Them More
One of the hardest things for me to do was to talk to my stepdad more about serious issues. Even though I didn’t want to, it made us closer. When my Dad passed away a few years ago, my stepdad wasn’t only understanding, but easy to talk to about certain things as well. He is also great at giving out financial advice, as well as being supportive in hard situations. Talking to your stepparent can truly help you realize their strengths, weaknesses, and bring you closer. You never know when you’ll need them the most; trust me.
5. Don’t Compare
One of the most effective tips I can give someone living with a stepparent that drives them crazy is to not compare them to your parent(s). They will never be your Dad or your Mom and shouldn’t need to live up to the standards you might hold of what they should be. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to love your stepparents just as much as your regular parents, or maybe your stepparent is more of a parent than your real parent has ever been. Remember that comparisons never help anything; they only create a larger difference between the two of you.
6. Be Flexible
This tip was quite possibly the hardest for me to practice in terms of living with a stepparent. Be flexible with your schedule, your routine, your preferences, etc. around the household. For example, maybe your shower time is exactly the time they take their shower each day. Be willing to get up earlier or take one later as a way to be flexible. Chances are, they may adjust something they like to do in return to help you with this too. I used to love to watch a certain TV show at night in my den, but I soon realized it was exactly the time my stepdad came home from work and was ready to chill out in front of the TV after being at work 14 hours. I gave up my time in the den and watched the program in my bedroom instead as a way to show some respect. In return, he offers to watch whatever we want to now and doesn’t mind one bit if we ask to watch something different.
7. Do Something Nice for Them
This tip may sound tough, but trust me, it does work. Do something nice for your stepparent and if you really want to challenge yourself, do it on a day they are driving you crazy. I like to bake when I’m stressed, so often times I’ll bake my family something and like to bake for my stepdad as a nice gesture. It eases tension, creates conversation, and aids in establishing relationships. Plus, it’s hard to be mad when you have something that smells delicious in the oven that you made!
If you live with a stepparent, chances are you know that it can be one tough adjustment! I never imagined I would have a stepparent, but I can honestly say I’ve learned more about patience, love and forgiveness by living with my stepdad than I ever have with anyone else besides my Mom and Dad. For more information on living with stepparents, check out the National Stepfamily Resource Website in the sources below, which has tons of helpful articles on living with stepparents. Do you live with a stepparent that you have a hard time getting along with? Share what you’ve learned along the way!