There’s no doubt that parenting is tough but if you happen to be a step-parent then you will likely agree that the struggle is real and more so. Step-parents are often faced with a number of challenges like stigma, stereotypes and acceptance in the family. One particular challenge that is plaguing stepparents is how to build a loving relationship with their stepchild.
According to statistics, over 50% of American families are remarried and about 1300 new step-families are forming each day. These numbers explain the multitude of people going through the struggles of being a stepmom or stepdad. Their struggle stems from the emotional scare of the past brought most likely by divorce. According to E. Mavis Hetherington, a professor in psychology, up to 73% of marriages involving children from previous relationship fails. It means to say that a step-parent’s relationship to their step-child is vital for family to thrive.
Building a relationship with your stepchild is a daunting mission, but it is a mission you must not fail. You need dedication, perseverance and some of the tips in this guest post written below:
Cultivate Trust and Honesty
Building the foundation of trust between a step-parent and a step-child is different from that of a biological parent. This time around, you need to start as a friend. Start by taking genuine interest about their hobby. Talk to them in the most sincere and confident way possible, children can sense dishonesty. This will let you to have space between each other and understand one another from a safe distance. Allow them to call you using a name or a term they are most comfortable with but ensure it is respectful. Forming a friendship is a good foundation for unconditional love.
You can set activities that you think may interest your stepchild. Give them gifts that can indicate how much you know them. If you have a stepson and he likes sports then invite him to watch a live game together. If you have a stepdaughter who is stylish and fashionable, give her gifts that encourages her individuality like clothes, and bags.
Let The Parents Do the Disciplining
Especially in the early days of your step-family formation, let the biological parent discipline his/her child. It does not mean you cannot set rules and be a disciplinarian, but earn your step-child’s trust first. Impose rules together with the parent and enforce them together to prevent your image from being the baddie.
Treat your Stepchildren as Family
Some step-kids travel and stay in-between two parents. This means he/he only stays for a period of time in your house. It can be tempting to treat him like a guest and an impermanent member of the household but do not think about it that way. It is best to give him household chores, and responsibilities. It is a subtle way to show that you think he/she is part of the family as of course they are.
At the start, your step-child may be upset about you and will see you as an intruder. Give them time to grieve about the finality of their biological parent’s relationship and process the changes that happen in their life. Do not be stressed out about pursuing an ideal relationship with them. It will only strain any previous effort, rather keep in mind that parental instinct and bond develop naturally over time.
Joke around and display your sense of humour. Use this to diffuse any tension in the household that does not really require a serious approach. Keep a light atmosphere when around your stepchild. It is vital to be seen as a positive aspect in their life.
Experts believe that building a relationship with your stepchild may take several years. The familiar feeling you have towards your own kid does not always happen instantly. This requires a lot of patience but the benefit will eventually outweigh the hardship on the way.
There is no such thing as a “broken family.” Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart.
C. Joybell C.
Are you a step-parent or perhaps you were a step-child? What is your advice for step-parents wanting to build a relationship with their step-child?