1. YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS
Unless someone says so. You try to take over you invite the dreaded, "you're not my mom!" No matter how much you want to step in and bring things under control. Realize you only serve in the role as parent with the natural parent's permission.
2. YOU ARE THE PARENT
That nobody loves. It isn't fair. You voluntarily joined this family and no one seems to appreciate it. That's right. And if you're lucky they'll take you for granted just like they take their other two (or three) parents for granted in their lives. Realize that they may not tell you how much they love you for a long time, if ever. But given enough consistent love and presence, you'll know they love you. And in those moments you celebrate their success, they'll know you were part of it and that will never be forgotten.
3. NEVER THE HEAVY
Only the enforcer. Yes, you'll be the boss and that authority comes from enforcing your partner's rules. At least that's how he'll explain it to the kids. Behind closed doors, your say holds equal weight. There's no honor in going down in flames trying to enforce your own rules. No matter how many of your fingerprints are found on them, they must always be their natural parent's rules, punishments, and rewards.
4. YOU'RE THE SPY
With a heart of gold. You may always have the tint of an outsider. But no child can resist your consistent presence in their lives. Deep down in an important place in their heart they know you chose to be their parent. You offer a unique and welcomed perspective in their life. Understanding that you love them means they are lovable by a person that freely choose to join them in their family.
5. LOVE IS A CHOICE
You'll never regret. It may be thankless, but it's not without its rewards. Being part of a child's daily life--no matter who bore them--is a gift that's not for sale in any other part of your life. Learning to be happy with what you have rather than regretting what you don't have is the key to living a fulfilled life. And your partner's kids will teach you that lesson if you let them.
5.8 SENSE OF HUMOR
Is not an option. If they figure out you can't take a joke, you'll have a big target on your back. losing sight of who these children are and how they make your partner's life complete will diminish your relationship. They are now a part of your life yet you are outside in a small way. This lets you help the person you love appreciate the humorous side of things.
What are your rules to maintain peace of mind as a step-parent? How has your partner made a difference to you kid's lives?