Marriage is a difficult work, which requires the ability to be calm, patient, and diplomatic. And this statement is especially relevant to wives and husbands who marry people with already existing families. Then, there are additional challenges because the stepparents are involved in new activities and they instantly acquire new roles.
However, even if stepparenting may have some difficulties, overall, it is a positive and exciting experience. Here are a few tips how to soothe the transition, establish a positive and healthy relationship with stepchildren and turn your relations into a spectacular adventure.
How To Build Positive Relationships
Bonding with stepchildren isn’t difficult if you share with them your love, support, and understanding. However, “It takes both parties – children and adults – to build positive relationships in stepfamilies,” said Larry Ganong, professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
Here are three major tips how to deal with stepkids. They will help your relationship grow into acceptance and friendship.
- Don’t Rush
Always give children some time to accept you. Depending on the age of the child (teens need longer time than children under eight), his or her emotional needs, the relationship with the biological father or mother, it may take longer time.
Though small children may accept you easier, they still may suffer from certain emotional problems, caused by the misunderstandings in the relationship of their biological parents. Also, as for teenagers, they struggle with adult problems in their lives. During this tough period, they may think that they don’t have things in common with the stepparent, they may experience sadness and suffer misunderstandings. In this case, just wait and support the kid. Don’t impose your company, as it will have the opposite effect.
A patient attitude will be beneficial after some time. Also, your spouse plays a crucial role in building a good relationship. He should trust children, respect them and don’t force them to get closer to you faster. Your primary goal is not to spoil your relationship with children. You should build mutual understanding and respect step by step. It will be a good foundation and a special bond between you will develop naturally over time.
- Build Trust
Trust is vital in a relationship between stepparents and children as it helps them to open to each other. In order to build trust, you should communicate with stepchildren. Also, sharing the same interests and hobbies contributes to communication.
Also, many stepchildren don’t know their place in the family and they don’t know how to perceive the stepmother. In this case, you shouldn’t position yourself as the mother. First of all, become a loving relative, a supportive friend, the mentor and a mother when it is needed. This attitude will help children to trust you easier.
- Talk With The Partner About Your Parental Role
Discipline is the key and if you are a stepmother, you should set boundaries regarding who should discipline children and how. Definitely, you should participate in the children’s upbringing. But this may be tricky because you should be soft and firm at the same time. If you are too soft, then you won’t earn respect, but if you are too strict, you may undermine initial trust. Most experts advise that stepparents should avoid the role of disciplinarian. So, the best option for you is to participate, but don’t set your own rules in front of children.
How To Love Your Step Daughter
Stepdaughters regardless their age require love, understanding, and support. In order to build the relationship, which will be filled with acceptance, respect, positivity, and love, stick to the following tips.
- Respect Traditions Of Her Family
Don’t forget that before meeting with you, the girl was the part of another family with its traditions and foundations. The best thing you can do to make the girl accept you is to respect her traditions and maybe support them. There are may be holiday traditions or daily rituals which you may try to follow together with your stepdaughter and your husband. If you have children and your own family traditions, you may blend them together. But don’t do it immediately, slow changes come with time.
- Don’t Try To Replace Her Biological Mother
The girl has gone through a tough period when she has lost her mother due to the divorce or death and during this period, you should be understanding and supportive. Sit and discuss the situation with the daughter of your husband and explain that you aren’t going to replace her mother and that you understand that there will always be a special connection between them. If the girl communicates with her mother, you may encourage this communication and respect her need to reconnect. Besides, you may show the girl that you value this relationship and don’t want to interfere with it. For instance, gift two tickets to the cinema to the stepdaughter so that she can go to the cinema with her mother and spend time together. Be sure, her eyes will sparkle!
- Make Surprises For Your StepDaughter
Your stepdaughter needs attention and care. The key point here is that the child should perceive herself as an indispensable part of the family, so unexpected surprises are a wonderful way to put a smile on her face! Sharing joy and happiness brings people closer and with the help of surprises, you’ll show your love, attention, and care. For instance, if the girl is small (up to 10 years old), organize an excursion to the place she has always wanted to visit, or gather her friends together and organize a treasure hunt for kids.
On top of that, even if the girl is a teenager, you may make her birthday special and decorate the place with balloons, hand-made cards, etc. Don’t be afraid of being creative and find ways to express your attitude to her. Also, engage her in the family activity. For instance, you may write happy birthday bro and happy birthday niece wishes on cards together.
How To Deal With Difficult Step Son
Boys aren’t less sensitive than girls and you should find the right approach to your stepson. The only rule is to practice patience and understanding. Here are four ways to establish a connection with the stepson.
- Show Genuine Interest
One of the best ways to become closer to the spouse’s son is to show interest in his life, personality, hobbies and share them. Spend some time together and find a common ground, which unites you. It may be shared interests, activities, which bring you joy, and topics to discuss when you are together.
Support your kid in his activities and interests. If your stepson likes sport (football, running, volleyball), support him during the games, play together with him or go and watch the game of his favorite team. Besides, if the child is creative, show interest in the artwork, writing, dancing, music, and share these interests with him. It will unite you and the son will start seeing an ally in you.
Therefore, spending time together is crucial as you show that you prioritize your relationship, want to spend time with him and enjoy your common leisure.
- Act As An Adult And Be Positive
When you are to build a new relationship with the stepson, be ready that it will take much time and efforts and don’t expect instant results. Firstly, his behavior will be suspicious and it is completely normal, so don’t judge the kid for it. Remember the golden rule that you should understand the kid and be more patient because you’ve been a kid in your life, but the child has not been an adult yet. Even if he is hostile to you, be wise and patient.
Always act as an adult. Smooth out sharp jokes, an evil look directed toward you, with the help of your kindness and understanding. This behavior is a protective reaction and you should figure out the underlying reasons. It may be the fear of being hurt, loyalty to the biological mother, a protest. All you should do is to wait and treat the kid with respect.
Besides, always see the positive intent in the child’s behavior, it will help you not to be frustrated and accept that you cannot control what your stepson thinks. Jeanne Elium and Don Elium, authors of “Raising a Family,” say, “There is always an underlying meaning a positive intent to our words and actions.”
When you understand why the child acts like this, you are on the right way towards solving the problem.
- Use Laughter To Reduce Tension And Build Closeness
Laughter is not only the means to cheer the person up, it is a strategic way to alleviate the tension, which may appear in the relationship between stepparents and stepchildren. If the boy is small, you can play games together. For instance, play a steam-roller. Hug the boy tight and roll on the bed. This game will end with lots of laughter.
If the child is older, then you may go to places where he can laugh (e.g. an amusement park). Besides, if you don’t have the opportunity to go out with the child, sit together at home, watch your photos from the childhood, tell him funny stories from your past. Also, you may watch a funny film or cartoon, which will help you to feel at ease.
- Let The Stepson Set His Own Pace For The Relationship With You
In fact, there are no “difficult children,” there are children, to whom the approach has not been found. Remember that a child suffers from stress, caused by the divorce of parents, so he needs time to accept you. If the stepson remains cautious, don’t force yourself on him. Respect his boundaries and slowly increase your affection and involvement in his life.
On top of that, don’t insist that the stepson calls you a mom (instantly or ever). Instead of it, talk with the stepson and tell him that you want him to call you by name, it will be comfortable for everyone. Later, if he has a desire, he can call you a mom. Always understand his answer and respect it.
Thus, building a positive relationship with the stepkids isn’t an easy thing, which happens instantly. It requires a respectful, concerned and concentrated attitude and good communication (the ability not to talk, but to listen). The key point here is to be patient, have realistic expectations and don’t try to be perfect. Be yourself and give the kids all love you have, then the results cannot be too far behind.