Stepparents, are you overstepping?

As stepparents, one of the things we're most often accused of is overstepping. A lot of time, this complaint is totally unfounded. But sometimes, if we're honest, maybe there's a grain of truth in there someplace.

Here's a little quiz to help you tell if you're overstepping as a stepparent:

  1. Did you suggest to your spouse that your stepkids be shipped off to boarding school the second you moved in?
  2. Do you force your stepkids to call you "Mom" or "Dad" against their will?
  3. Speaking of wills, did you insist your spouse write your stepkids out of yours?
  4. Have you ever hired a huntsman to bring your stepkid's heart to you on a platter or locked your stepkid in their room so they couldn't attend a ball?
No? No to all of those? You're probably okay then!

"Overstepping" vs. Actual Overstepping

Being accused of overstepping does not mean you're actually overstepping. Many a high-conflict bio parent (HCBP) plays the overstepping card in an attempt to get you the hell away from their kid. Or control what's happening at your house. Or stir up drama. Or heck, all of the above.

A lot of stepparents fall for this crying wolf shit and think they need to back off. (I know I did.) But normal, everyday involvement in your stepkid's life does NOT constitute overstepping—and if someone implies otherwise, that person should be soundly ignored. Packing school lunches, driving your stepkids around, decorating their room at your house, planning vacations with them, asking them to bring their dishes to the sink… none of that is overstepping.

Like everything else about dealing with a HCBP, don't let their attempted manipulations influence how you and your partner run your household. If you're not doing anything that a babysitter wouldn't normally do, then you're not overstepping. Although frankly, the question of how involved (or uninvolved) you choose to be with your stepkids is irrelevant. As long as your partner supports the role you have in their children's lives, that's all the approval you need.