Blended Families: How To Best Bond With Your Step-Children
By Katie Gorden
Step-parents have an extremely challenging job. Once you begin life together as a blended family, building relationships with your spouse’s children is essential in order to create a harmonious home.
Creating a blended family is challenging for everyone, but it can be particularly confusing for children. Depending on the circumstances, children can feel lost, rejected, abandoned, or unsure of their future place within this new family.
With time and effort, however, it is possible to forge strong, stable relationships with step-children that strengthen the family even more. Be patient, take your time, and continue to move ahead, knowing that you are filling a very important role in the family. Here are some ways to best bond with your step-children.
1. Let children take the lead when setting the pace
Depending on the age of your step-children, it can be wise to allow them to make some relationship decisions that will affect the two of you. Approach with caution, and carve out some common interests and beliefs that can initially bond the two of you.
As time progresses, you can ask questions about how they see the two of you growing together, as well as what kind of relationship they would like to have with you.
If you need help with ice breakers and things to talk about in these first initial outings, consider some stepdad quotes that can impart wisdom and communicate your caring nature.
With consistency and a commitment to showing your step-children that you are in it for the long haul, even the most resistant children will come around.
2. Try a solo outing
Once you and your step-child have known each other for a while, it would be appropriate to suggest a solo outing that interests both of you. Consider choosing an activity where you won’t be pressured to talk to each other the entire time and keep it light-hearted and fun.
Not everything has to be an opportunity for lecturing on life lessons. Find things to enjoy spending time with each other.
3. Show our support
From homework to extracurriculars to what they watch on television, it is important to show your support for who they are and what they do.
Offer to help with homework, attend those after school events like concerts and sporting events, and do what they enjoy doing with them.
Remember that they are individuals and that their likes and preferences will change over time. Ride the wave of interests, and watch them blossom into the wonderful person that they are destined to be.
4. Support the “other parent”
We are not talking about your spouse, we are talking about the parent who is on the outskirts of your family, looking in. Your step-child may initially have conflicting emotions, thinking it is wrong to be forming a bond with you when their other parent is still in the picture.
There is room for everyone on the game board, as long as everyone follows some basic rules of courtesy and respect. Let them know that you are there as a wonderful addition to their parental dynamic, not to be a replacement for someone.
Also communicating that you are not going to come between the two of them will create a sense of ease, allowing the two of you to have a stress-free relationship.
5. Strategize with your partner
In order for you to form a healthy relationship with your step-child, it is important for your partner to be able to take a step back, letting you take the reigns once in a while.
Talking about rules ahead of time will avoid conflict when you are in the middle of a disciplinary moment, so the two of you will be on the same page as you are allowed to step in and claim a teachable moment, establishing authority and rapport with your step-child.
6. Don’t push it
Building relationships takes time, as does establish bonds. It might not be possible for you to love your step-child right away, but you can commit to being their friend.
Letting them know that they can always talk to you and that you will help them through difficulties, is a wonderful place to start establishing a strong foundation for your future relationship.
Over time and with consistency, you’ll soon see a strong bond that surprises and delights you and all that it has brought into your life.
Best of luck to you as you blend your families together, and embrace the exciting opportunity to create new and lasting relationships that will enhance the quality of all lives in your household. You’ll be amazed at how strong these bonds can be!
Katie earned a BA in English from Western Washington University, and currently living in Washington State in the Seattle area and loves to write. She also adores hiking in the redwood forests and photography. She feels happiest around a campfire surrounded by friends and family. https://twitter.com/gorden_katie
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