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Should stepparents have boundaries?

Co-parenting is tricky enough on its own, but when stepparents are involved it can be a minefield to navigate. While stepparents can make meaningful contributions to a family, there are certain boundaries that must be respected at all times. Parents Magazine explains some of these boundaries and why they're so important. 

While spanking is controversial in general, stepparents should never use this disciplinary tactic on stepchildren. Hitting a child can lead to lasting emotional trauma and also derail any budding relationship that had been forming up to that point. Problematic behavior should be reported to the biological parents, who can then come to terms on the best way to discipline children. Stepparents are encouraged to walk away from a child if tempers are flaring to prevent any serious breaches in trust. 

Additionally, stepparents should not involve themselves in the co-parenting relationship. This will only complicate matters further and will likely inflame the ex-spouse in the co-parenting arrangement. Co-parenting rules are often established during mediation or within a court, and all matters must be negotiated between the biological parents for the best chance of a successful outcome. Many spouses feel resentment when their ex moves on to a new relationship, which means that even constructive statements will be taken poorly.

Lastly, stepparents must accept that their relationship with their stepkids will be vastly different from their relationship with the biological mother and father. As a result, the stepparent must never attempt to replace mom or dad, as this will likely cause resentment from children. Stepparents should also refrain from badmouthing or criticizing the other parent, which can cause a great deal of stress within a family. 


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