Forming a new bond with a stepchild can be very difficult for everyone involved. It’s a long process that can feel overwhelming at times, but there are steps you can take to make the transition a lot easier on the both of you. Your efforts will result in a genuine bond that you will cherish for years to come.
A strong bond won’t be created overnight. Patience is key when working through the many issues that come up when a stepfamily is created. If your stepchild is older, it may be even harder to form that bond right away, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. Give them space and enough time to work through their emotions regarding their new family, but let them know you’re available if they ever have questions or would like to talk. One thing to remember: never force them to do anything. Be available but let your stepchild come to you, and you will find it much easier to establish trust. Common ground can do wonders for your relationship, especially when you have no other past experiences to bind you together.
Pay Attention to Their Interests
Let your stepchild know that you value them by providing them with a personalized gift that caters to one of their hobbies. This will show that you care about them and are making an effort to get to know them better. Cater to their interests; if they have a favorite hobby, personalize a gift that they can use. hard for any parent, the effort is noticed and more often than not appreciated.
Better yet, join them in said hobby and spend some quality time with them. They will love that you’re making the effort to enjoy their interests and understand what makes them happy. Shared interests can serve as some of the strongest connection points. Plus, the bonding time is priceless. This concept translates into any extracurricular they may take part in. Attend every theater production they star in or cheer from the sidelines at their soccer game. Unwavering support can go a long way in creating a strong connection. For older children, take the time to talk and get to know them. While getting teenagers to discuss even the most mundane details can be
Be Aware Of Your Actions
Forming a strong relationship with your child means understanding the way you come across, even when you’re not speaking to them. Nonverbal communication can have a huge effect on your relationships, especially with a child who doesn’t understand the pressures of the outside world and the stress you may be under. Don’t ignore them for your phone, and don’t give them half of your attention. Be all in at any time you’re interacting with them. The extra effort will pay off.
Respect Other Relationships
Make it clear that you are not trying to step into anyone’s shoes. Don’t try to serve as a replacement for a lost parent, and don’t ever criticize your stepchild’s biological parent. Children often experience feelings of guilt when they get along with their stepparent, and may act out due to their urge to be “loyal” to their biological parent. This is common, and won’t last forever. Encourage communication with their biological parent, and if possible, work together to establish a plan for authority purposes.
Often, stepparents can take on the discipline role too soon, so ask your spouse and your stepchild’s biological parent to figure out the best course of action to ensure everyone feels safe and secure with the changing environment. Serve as an extension of authority, not as the main disciplinarian. A unified front will be most effective and help everyone transition into their new roles more quickly. Your relationship may be weak in the beginning and punishment can create even more resentment between you and your stepchild. As a family, lay down some rules that everyone must abide by, and make sure you’ve communicated your expectations clearly.
Fair and Equal Treatment
If you have biological children, make sure you treat your stepchildren with the same amount of love and respect. They are just as much a part of your family now, and equal treatment will allow your children to bond with each other without feeling any unnecessary resentment. One-on-one time with your stepchild may be too overwhelming for them at first. Work to ensure another family member is present for the multitude of your interactions during the first few months. Help your stepchild see they are a valued part of your family. Play some family outdoor games to create shared experiences and hopefully inspire a little laughter.
Plan a Surprise Trip
Try getting out of your normal environment and give yourself and your stepchild the chance to bond while discovering exciting new things. Ask for their input on a place they’d like to visit and spend a weekend exploring new places while learning more about each other. Surprise them with a new suitcase or backpack for all their traveling essentials and explain your idea. The thought that you cared to plan a trip for them will mean a lot.
Becoming a stepparent is a difficult task, but can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. Work with your stepchild to form a genuine bond that will last a lifetime.