A stepparent is so much more than just a parent; they made the choice to love when they didn’t have to. ~Author Unknown
With divorce statistics hovering around 50 percent, it is probable that you may have a blended family consisting of yours, mine and ours. So how do you bring them all together into a single, loving household?
It’s a tough challenge, no doubt, but it can be done successfully. Being a stepparent does have its own set of problems, whether the stepchild is just weeks old, or a grown adult with his or her own children. One of the first steps is to make a connection with your stepchildren. With each case, each child, it is different. Transition will take its own time. Don’t expect instant love and acceptance.
Here are some ways to strengthen the bond with your stepchildren:
- Get involved, become a part of their everyday lives. Ask questions, show interest in their activities. Let your stepchildren know they can talk about the absent parent.
- Encourage and develop a friendship first rather than simply taking on a parental role. No matter how hostile a child may act, remain civil and kind.
- Make a plan with your partner and be sure you’re on the same page when it comes to your efforts to keep peace in the family unit.
- A strong support system from both co-parents is vital to the health and well-being of children. That means your relationship with the absent parent is important as well. Always be respectful.
- Never say negative things about the absent parent in front of your stepchild; it will likely damage the relationship you are trying to build.
- Work as a team with your partner and treat all children equally. Provide consistency in both households to build a solid foundation for the children.
The most delicate issue you may need to tackle, with diplomacy and common sense, is how to discipline a stepchild. It’s a fine line, but presenting a united front to the child is imperative. If there is a difference of opinion on how to handle an issue with your partner, talk it out in private, not in front of the children. Taking a side, other than your partner’s, may do damage to your relationship with each other.
Transition is hard, for parents and children alike, but creating a safe environment where you can share honest feelings is a good start. If your stepchild is uncomfortable calling you mom or dad, let him or her choose how to address you. Above all else, be patient — building any relationship takes time! And remember, biology doesn’t make a parent, unconditional love does.