Accommodating the Child with Stepparents

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home treeIt is a challenging business these days for teachers to stay on top of each and every child’s home situation. Gone are the days when an educator could simply assume every child lived in an intact nuclear family with his or her biological parents.

Nonetheless, it is important to make some general accommodations that will cover any child’s unique circumstances. I think most teachers are tuned in to giving children options when making special items for Mother’s Day or Father’s day, allowing children to make their project for a grandparent, aunt or uncle, if the primary parent is not in the child’s life.

Slower to come is the recognition of stepparents. A child should be given the option of making two cards, gifts etc. if they wish—one for the parent, and one for the stepparent. This choice should be left to the child without any pressure. Parents or teachers should not place responsibility on the child for appeasing the egos of all of the adults in their lives. Allow the child to do what is in his or her heart, without imposing any guilt.

It is not the child’s fault that he or she may have two sets of parents. All adults in the situation should not read too much into what the child gives to whom. There is no need to go into a place of hurt feelings if one is left out. Sometimes children just want to be like all of the other children, and do not want to do anything to set themselves apart.

It is also important for stepparents to realize that the primary parents will always be “Mom and Dad” to the child. Stepparents are extra people who have been added to the family because Mom or Dad want them there. The child may not feel the same, and should not be expected to love these people just because their parents do.

Love is something that evolves in a relationship, based on lots of positive experiences. If you are blessed by the love of a stepchild, be thankful. If you are not, let it be, and do not take it personally.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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