Bonding with stepchildren is often a labor of love.
In this day and age, blended families are the norm, rather than the exception. Because of this, it’s common to have to figure out ways to make two different families work together.
Attempting to get along with stepchildren is often trying; however, it is key if you want to make your blended family work. A crucial step in creating a relationship with your stepchildren is to bond with them. Bonding with stepchildren often sounds easier than it is, but you’ll need to if you want your families to mesh well.
Consider Their Feelings
Before you attempt to bond with your stepchildren, you’ll need to take their feelings into consideration. Watching your parents divorce is often heart-wrenching and the idea of someone taking your mom or dad’s place in the marriage is impossible to understand. The children may be angry, confused, hurt or scared.
It’s important to understand these feelings when you attempt to bond with the child. Suggesting participating in an activity the child does with the parent you aren’t married to may seem like a good idea, however, it usually isn’t. For instance, if your stepchild likes planting flowers with his mother, performing this activity with him may make it seem like you are trying to replace her, which may make the child resent you.
Creating a relationship and memories with new activities is ideal.
Although going on adventures everyday isn’t ideal, doing so every once in a while is fun. If you are all together for the weekend, plan a family movie night and tuck in for a marathon that has appeals to everyone.
Getting out of the house and going into a neutral setting can make spending time with your stepchild enjoyable and memorable.
Going to the beach, an amusement park or the playground, or even riding a bike around the neighborhood can help you bond with your stepchild. If you have children, too, taking them all to a place like this encourages them to spend time together and have fun. Performing activities in which you need to work together is often helpful, as well. Playing sports is not only enjoyable, but requires you to work as a team in order to get the job done.
It may sound like a no-brainer, but respecting the stepchild is essential to building a relationship. Respect means not only treating him with respect, but also means respecting his parents and the life he has with both of them.
Never bad-mouth the other parent in front of the child nor criticize the things they do together. Doing so will only cause tension between you and the parent and issues with the stepchild. Instead, speak highly of the child’s parent. Make it clear you do not want to replace the other parent; rather, you want to be a part of the child’s life, as well.
Respecting the stepchild also means listening to his concerns and making sure you show him you understand. Creating an environment in which the child is always heard and won’t be judged is also crucial in bonding with stepchildren. Showing the child his thoughts, ideas and feelings are appreciated can make him feel more welcome in the home and comfortable with you.
Additionally, avoid entering the relationship trying to enforce rules upon the child. Although the child does need boundaries, it should be up to the biological parent to implement these rules, at least at the beginning. Once you become comfortable with the child, work with your spouse to set limits with your stepchild.
Creating a relationship with a stepchild is a process and it may take quite a while before you get the kind of relationship you desire. It’s important not to give up or become frustrated. With time and patience, you’ll likely become close and bond well with your stepchild.
Help Guide: Guide to Step-Parenting and Blended Families