reduce step-parenting battles

How to Reduce Step-Parenting Battles Easily: The one thing you must do!

Sometimes the life of stepmom can feel like a constant battle. You are coming into a situation where dad and kids have their own routines and systems that you have to try to fit into.  Step-kids may resent changes in the family dynamic and be resistant to accepting you into their lives. And of course, there is the ex, who often feels threatened by your role in her kids’ life and will resent your presence.

It can be an exhausting and hurtful process. One where you feel like you take two steps back for every step forward. One that can breed conflict between you and your kids, your husband, the ex, and even extended family members.

My husband recently published his first book (brilliant man that he is!), and one lesson he teaches is the concept “Don’t pick up the rope.”  I love this idea, and I find myself thinking of the phrase and reminding myself of this concept often in my step-parenting role. Not picking up the rope is a simple strategy and an easy parenting win.

Let’s face it.  In step-parenting situations, there just will be conflict. There may not be a way to prevent it, particularly in situations that involve complicating issues such as mental health concerns, substance abuse, etc.  Yes, it’s ideal that you co-parent beautifully all together for the best interest of the kids.  But sometimes we must make the best of a bad situation.  We don’t live in an ideal world.  We cannot control the actions and behaviors of the people we do life with.

The Secret to Reducing Step-Parenting Battles

We can’t control WHO we do life with, but we can control our actions, behaviors, & feelings. The answer is difficult but oh, so simple.  Just don’t pick up the rope!  Have you ever tried to play tug-of-war by yourself?  It doesn’t work. (And as an added bonus, you look a little crazy!).

Have you ever reduced step-parenting battles by refusing to engage in the back-and-forth tug-o-war? If so, I would love to hear more about how this step-parenting tool worked? What went well, and what would you do differently next time to reduce ongoing step-parenting battles? I’m excited about continuing the conversation in the comments below? 

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Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at

9 thoughts on “How to Reduce Step-Parenting Battles Easily: The one thing you must do!”

  1. Great points!!!! I love it, “Don’t pick up the rope!” I will be using that in my counseling (with proper credit, of course)! Visiting from Thoughtful Thursdays this time. Blessings!

    1. Thanks Donna,

      I love the, “Don’t pick up the rope,” tool too, but can’t take credit for it myself, and unfortunately, I’m not sure where it originated. It’s been very helpful in my own life, and teaching. I’m glad others are finding it useful too. And thank you for Thoughtful Thursdays. Jenny and I sure appreciate the opportunity to connect, share, and make new friends.

  2. Lori @ Frog's Lilypad

    Don’t pick up the rope! What a great reminder to pick your battles in life. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

  3. This was really good it created a lot of thought as I read it. I sometimes ask myself if this is going to create healthy or unhealthy conflict and if I think it will not go well I just “don’t pick up the rope.” I’ve been a step-parent and married to a step-parent. Being on both sides fo the isle I know how difficult it must be for my spouse but it doesn’t make it any easier. Responsibility comes into play here also because we are responsible for our responses. Even if “we can’t control who we do life with” we are still responsible for our responses. That can make all the difference in disarming a tug of war contest.

    1. Thanks Kirby,

      You’ve go so much excellent insight into blended family life and a great looking family. I didn’t know that you are both a step-parent and married to a step-parent. If you happen to have time in the weeks ahead, lets connect by phone some time. Mostly, because it would be fun just to connect. And, it your up for it, I would love to brainstorm too. As I move forward in writing for blended families, it would be helpful to hear about the needs, and insights of my friends in blended family homes. Right now, I draw a lot from my own experiences, but I don’t want this to be my only point of reference–as I may then end up answering questions that no one else is asking 🙂

      Wishing you an your family an incredible week!

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