Bonding with Stepchildren

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Bonding with Stepchildren

Bringing children into a new marriage can be a difficult and stressful transition for many families. There are a lot of relationships to be considered. The relationship between children and their biological parent is important. The couple’s relationship is essential as well.

However, it is the new relationships between stepparents and stepchildren that are often used as barometers for how successfully the new family is adjusting.

Consider these tips for bonding successfully with school-aged stepchildren:

  • Understand your role.

The idea of an instant family is a myth. Many adults believe that the role of a stepparent is that of a parent. Kids don’t necessarily see a stepparent in that way. They may tend to see a new stepparent as a friend. It may be a bit too optimistic to think that everyone will suddenly become one big happy family based on a couple’s commitment to each other. Adult and child perspectives are frequently not the same.

If a child wants a friend and the adult doesn’t grasp this, conflicts may arise.

The primary job of the stepparent is to establish a positive relationship with their stepchildren. Understandably, it may be difficult or awkward for stepparents to live with children and not have full parental responsibility or power. Just try to keep in mind that supportive, nurturing relationships are the goal.

  • Let the kids set the pace.

It is important not to rush parental authority. If an adult tries to establish him or herself as a disciplinarian or authority figure too early the process of developing a relationship, it will be much more difficult. It’s important to remember that the kids did not choose their situation.

Pay attention to the child’s cues. If he is seeking attention, give it to him. If she is more reserved, give her space. Follow the children’s lead so that the bond can be built securely and trust established naturally.

Do your best to appreciate the current relationship, rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Focus on the positive.

  • Early on, defer to the biological parent.

This may seem counterintuitive, given most adults’ ideas about parent-child relationships. However, it is important to recognize that the authority does belong to the biological parent. The stepparent will actually experience deeper and quicker bonding, if he or she backs and supports the biological parent

  • Discover and engage in your stepchild’s interests.

This is a good bonding technique to genuinely learn about the child and participate in his or her life.

  • Allow your partner time alone with his or her child.

Be aware that your time as a couple takes time away from the children. Kids may feel replaced or displaced. Kids will appreciate time alone with mom or dad, and appreciate their stepparent for encouraging it.

  • Act lovingly—even if you don’t feel like it or want to.

Guilt about differences in connection or feeling between biological and stepchildren often occurs. It isn’t unusual for a stepparent to have a difficult time warming to their stepkids.

Still, it is important to recognize that you are dealing with children, and behave accordingly. You are the adult; do what you can to put your feelings aside and/or consciously distinguish your feelings about your partner’s ex from their kids. Act in a warm manner that is positive, genuine, and respectful.

  • Don’t rush the relationship.

Research shows that it takes seven years for a stepfamily to gel. Rushing only creates more problems and hard feelings. Take a slow and steady approach. As always, relationships evolve over time.

Patience, persistence and motivation will be important factors in your family’s success.





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