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How to navigate the pitfalls of stepparenting

Don't have unrealistic expectations. "People coming out of a divorce can have a mentality that 'this time everything will be perfect'. It's not realistic to put that pressure on a new, complex relationship," says Margaret Bednarska from Hazelton Clinic, Cork. Accept that it will take time for everything to work out and be patient, especially when dealing with children testing the boundaries -- challenging behaviour is usually motivated by fear and uncertainty. Don't feel guilty if you don't bond immediately with his kids, or they with you. Just because it doesn't happen straight off, doesn't mean it won't. Don't try and be 'mum' -- leave discipline to their biological parents and try to become their friend instead. Involve children and ask their opinion and they'll respect you.

Irish Independent