Shawn and Kim grew in love some years ago and decided they want to spend their lives together.  She has two preteen boys who live with them, while Shawn has a four year old girl who lives with his ex-wife.  There’s just one little problem.  Shawn can’t stand Kim’s sons!  He feels they are rude, disrespectful and in need serious discipline.  So, what do you do when you love your mate, but can’t seem to fall in love with those stepchildren?  Here are four commandments to follow when you find yourself in this situation.

1. Thou Shalt Know the Definition of “Love” As tough as it seems, you can’t have the spouse without the children.  So remember that those unruly children have the DNA of their parent.  As such, now more than ever, you must employ the principles of love being kind, patient, humble and tolerant.  As the new parent, your job is not to step in and be the disciplinarian alongside your spouse.  Rather, you are to be the personification of what love looks like.  Become a parental example of patience and wait to follow your spouse’s lead.  If they are overwhelmed, you offer support.  Just as you grew in love with your spouse, you must grow in love with his/her children.

2. Thou Shalt Not Express Everything You Feel Normally I would advocate being completely open about feelings and opinions, but in this situation, there is a time to speak and a time to be silent.  Often many opinions about how a stepchild should be treated will pass through one’s mind.  These thoughts should be weighed and balanced before expressed.  Allowing emotions to govern your expressions often lead to disaster.  Step back and ask yourself why a child is acting or responding a certain way.  Your goal is to make the situation better, not to fuel the fire by spewing random thoughts of how you feel things ought to be done. 

3. Thou Shalt Remember Who The Adult Is When a child is unruly, the absolute worst thing a parent can do is to go to the child’s level and engage in battle.  Children are not supposed to act like adults.  Children act immaturely because they are inexperienced at life, adults should know better.  When a child sees you argue at their level, he/she tends to view you as an equal and may lose respect.  Parents should aim at visiting a child’s level so you can relate to them, while keeping your authority position so you can lead them.  Children need parents to be in leadership not partnership.

4. Remember To Keep The “Step” Out Of Parenting.  Originally, in the 19th century, the term “step-parent” was designated for anyone who becomes a parent to an orphan.  Nowadays, the term is used for any non-biological parent.  When you join to a wife or husband with children, you become a full-fledged parent.  The only steps that should exist are the ones you take toward being a great example to that child.  Step One:  Love them as though you conceived or birthed them. Step Two: Communicate often so you may get to know their personalities.  Step Three: Impartially invest your time, resources and emotions in them so they can become healthy, well balanced adults.  Remember, your mate will love and respect you more if they see that you love and respect their children.