When Your Child’s New Stepparent Holds Conflicting Parenting Values

In Child Custody, Parenting, Relationships by Elizabeth Stephenson

A reality of separation and divorce is that you and your ex may one day enter into new relationships and get remarried. This may happen for either of you sooner than you think. Further, the new relationships take on additional weight if there are children involved, who now have a new stepparent. Sometimes, this new person fits right into their new role and is on the same wavelength in their parenting values. This is an absolutely wonderful outcome for a child. However, it is just as likely that you and the new stepparent will not see eye-to-eye on critical issues, such as disciplining the children, their education, and their moral upbringing.

Few things upset us more than disputes over our children, and it is okay to feel upset; nevertheless, we recommend taking a thoughtful, balanced approach to addressing conflicting parenting values. Consider the following:

While it is true that the new stepparent is not your child’s biological parent, it is also true that they have assumed a significant role in your child’s life and are unlikely to go anywhere. This even applies if the new stepparent happens to be “the other woman” or “the other man” who you believe is responsible for the dissolution of your marital relationship. It is truly in the children’s best interest to move forward toward a situation where you can accept that this person is going to be involved in your child’s upbringing and to establish healthy boundaries.

If the new stepparent already has children of his or her own, they will come in with an established set of parenting values. Even if the person does not have biological children, they are still likely to have ideas about parenting methods and values that they believe in. In either case, communication is essential to productive co-parenting. Try to find common ground or to establish rules. It can be confusing for everyone to figure out each other’s roles and responsibilities in this new world. This communication should involve you, the children’s other parent, and the new stepparent.

While communication and harmonious co-parenting are obviously the goal, these are sometimes not possible due to the nature of conflicting values, or the underlying issues between the parents. Remember that there are custody orders or an agreed parenting plan in place, which establish the legal and physical custody of your children. As a last resort, you should speak with your attorney about clarifying or modifying these orders.

New Direction Family Law

New Direction Family Law handles all manner of family law issues, including separations, divorces, property division, child custody, child support, and alimony. If you are considering separation or have already separated, call us. There are specific legal rights that you must preserve before you get a divorce. Our attorneys take great pride in protecting our clients’ rights and providing timely, accurate legal guidance. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 or reach us online.