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How to handle life with a step parent

Break stereotypes and look beyond your preconceived notions Samir Parikh

education Updated: Feb 02, 2011 10:18 IST
Samir Parikh

A family is a unique support structure in an individual’s life. Our parents in particular form the foundation of this strong structure without which the system cannot survive. Having a good bond with parents and being able to interact with them is an important facet of our family lives. And sometimes, when these traditional structures crack, in cases involving a step parent, things can be difficult, uncomfortable, or cause us to be angry and unhappy.

In such circumstances, it becomes very essential to take a few steps to develop a pleasant family atmosphere.

A parent is a parent
At the end of the day, remember a parent is a parent. If someone has married your biological parent, then they have done so knowing that you are an integral part of their lives and would continue to be so. So, treating the new member any differently would not help. This would only lead to unpleasantness and clashes.

Instead, remember that like any responsible parent, s/he would also want to do the best for you and want you to do the best in whatever you do.

Break the stereotype
It is very easy to think of your step parent as wicked, as someone who does not want you to be happy. But that is not necessarily true. Instead, break the stereotype and try and look beyond your preconceived notions. This can give you a new way of looking at things and your relationship with your step parent.

Develop your own relationship
Build a relationship with the new member of the family, your step parent. You need to know the person as much as s/he needs to know you. Work with him/her as an individual with a one-on-one relationship with you and not as just a small aspect of your life.

Stop the comparisons
Comparisons never help. Just as you would not want to be compared with other students regarding studies, even your step parent would not appreciate being compared to your biological parent. S/he is an individual with his/her unique positive traits which you need to identify and appreciate, for your relationship to grow and develop.

Be responsive
Respond to the efforts your step parent may be making. You don’t have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Being open to their efforts is a good beginning and would give them a sense of comfort.

The author is a psychiatrist, and chief, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Healthcare