1. Envision the big picture. With the help of your wife, friends in a similar situation, reading or a support group, gain some understanding of the complexity of step family life. Learn about your own challenges as well as those of your wife and the children. There is no quick or easy “fix” or “blending” and there are absolutely no easy answers.
2. Build a relationship with the children before attempting any kind of discipline. This will pay off in the long run as children can find ways to accept discipline (teaching) from some one that they have a relationship with and someone that they know truly cares about them and their lives.
Look for things to like and appreciate about each of them. Find time to spend with each one individually on a regular basis even if it is just for 5 minutes. Ask about their day and their lives.
I often encourage new step families to act as single parent families for the first year. Let the natural parent handle all of the discipline while the new step parent builds a positive relationship.
3. Understand your role as a step dad. Recognize that you are not, nor will you ever be, their natural father. Even if you have the best relationship in the world, it cannot and will not ever be the same. In addition, you cannot expect to have the same feelings for them as you do your own children.
Talk with your wife about your role with the children and with her. Define a role that fits for both of you but allows you the flexibility to see as your main purpose, for at least the first year, to concentrate on building a relationship with the children.
4. Share, privately, any important concerns that you have with your wife about the children or parenting. There will be many things that you will need to be talking about as you all learn how to live together. Find ways to do this from a positive rather than a complaining or critical place.
It is best for the children NOT to know about your disagreements most of the time. If their mom changes much or the two of you come up with a rule that they don’t like, they will blame you for sure.