Being a Stepdad

There are millions of stepfamilies in the UK, but because of the tendency of children to stay with their mother after a relationship breaks up, over 80 percent of them consist of a natural mother and a stepfather. Kelvin Wright is one of those Stepdads. He talks about life with stepchildren Alex and Olivia, and his fiancé, Caroline.

Kelvin Wright lives in north west England with his fiancé, Caroline and her two children, Alex, 8, and Olivia, 6. Here he talks about life as a Step-dad.

“I met Caroline through work, when her children were six and four. I was working in London at the time, so I used to travel up to see her at weekends. They spend weekends with their Dad and Step-mum and I think that was quite helpful, as it meant they got used to me little by little.

I then requested a transfer up here from London to the Wirral about two and half years ago, and we looked for a new house together. When we all moved into it together, they associated me with the new house.

Caroline and her ex-husband split up two years before I met her, so the children were quite young, which I think is fortunate. If they had been older, it might have been harder.

I admit that I felt dropped in the deep end when I met Caroline and was suddenly in the lives of small children. But I’ve been surprised by how much I enjoy some of it – things like having a hug out of the blue, for example – and they’re superb kids. They’ve made it easy for me. I have also always been conscious that I am not the children’s Dad, and don’t try to be. They call me Kelv.

What I did find hard was the question of how to discipline the children. When we moved in together, I definitely backed off when it came to discipline and natural boundaries. I felt like I had to see how Caroline did everything, and not really interfere if I thought I would deal with something differently. Caroline said that I should do what I felt was natural, but I didn’t want to be disruptive.

It’s true there were times when I thought I would have reacted differently, but actually I’m lucky, because Caroline’s discipline and boundaries are very similar to mine and I haven’t found any major problems with the kids. They sometimes try and play one of us against each other, but I don’t think that’s unusual.

I also try to spend time with them myself. I sometimes pick them up from school, and I make sure I engage with them. They don’t just see me in evening, and I feel very close to them.

I think Cal has done such an amazing job with the children, but they’re also very close to their Dad. We all get on and are very civil with each other, which is very good. If the children see us having a drink together, I’m sure that’s a huge help.

The main difference in my life now is that I’m not just thinking about myself, or even myself and my partner. Instead it’s us and the kids, and we do lots of things together.

If I was trying to give any tips to anyone else it would be to try and fit in with the children, rather than have them fit in with you. Don’t impose your own rules and regulations and pace yourself. It’s also a good idea to chat with the children’s mum about the best way of doing things.

Related links

Stepfamilies and how to survive them! Stepfamilies are becoming increasingly common. But while adults may see the creation of a stepfamily as something positive – the beginning of something joyful – their children may see it as the final nail in the coffin for their parents ever getting back together. With these very different agendas, how can you make sure your stepfamily works as well as it possibly can?

Discipline for Stepfamilies: Discipline can be a huge issue in stepfamilies. After all, the very fact that a stepfamily exists suggests that some tragedy – a death, divorce or separation – has happened, and that is sure to affect children’s behaviour. But what can you do to try and prevent matters getting out of hand? The Supernanny team offers their advice.

Divorce - helping the kids to cope: Around 300,000 children each year are affected by their parents splitting up. So what can be done to help them to cope?

Tips for Step-parents: Forming a bond with a stepchild can be tough. Supernanny member Claire Thomas has this useful advice - learnt through personal experience!

Divorce: Don’t forget the children: The estranged parents of Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan have been told "not to make disparaging comments" about each other in the presence of their children. It’s a comment which will be recognised by warring parents worldwide. When you’ve fallen out, just how do you try and remain civil for the children?

Divorce and discipline - how to stop matters getting out of hand: If their Mum and Dad are having relationship problems or going through a divorce it can bumpstart bad behaviour in children of all ages – but you can head off tantrums, aggression and backchat if you work as a team and reach a compromise when it comes to discipline.

Find out more

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