One of these differences is that in a stepfamily, the spouses do not have an equal relationship to the children or in the parenting process. This dynamic sets up a. Whether or not you have children from a previous relationship and are The dynamic between a step-child and a step-parent is unique and. ical Adjustment of Children in Stepmother and Stepfather Families. CHILD assessment of stepparent-stepchild relationships and child outcomes. Half of each.
Consider yourself an added parent figure in the child's life-be yourself. The cardinal rule for stepparent-stepchild relationships is this: Let the children set their pace for their relationship with you.
If your stepchildren are open to you and seem to want physical affection from you, don't leave them disappointed. If, however, they remain aloof and cautious, don't force yourself on them. Respect their boundaries, for it often represents their confusion over the new relationship and their loss from the past. As time in the stepfamily crock-pot brings you together, slowly increase your personal involvement and affections. Together you can forge a workable relationship that grows over time.
Recently a gentleman told me that it took 30 years before he could tell his stepfather he loved him.
Undoubtedly, his stepfather struggled through those years for his stepson's acceptance. But despite his godly attitude and leadership, his stepson simply couldn't allow himself to return that love. Eventually, however, love won out and was able to express appreciation to his stepfather for being involved in his life. Trust that doing the right things in the name of Christ will eventually bring you and your stepchildren together.
In the meantime, set realistic expectations that don't leave you feeling like a failure until that day arrives. Relax and Build Relationship Relax. It's an interesting word to hear when you feel like you're not making any progress as a stepparent, yet that's exactly the word I continue to use in therapy with stepfamilies.
The crock-pot will eventually bring you closer together with your stepchildren, but you can't force their affections.
The Relationship Difference | An Evidence Based Approach to Stepfamilies
So relax, accept the current level of relationship, and trust the crock-pot to increase your connection over time. In the mean time, use the following suggestions to help you to be intentional about slowly building your relationship. Early on, monitor 1 your stepchildren's activities.
Know what they are doing at school, church, and in extracurricular activities, and make it your aim to be a part.
Take them to soccer practice, ask about the math test they studied for, and help them to learn their lines in the school play. Monitoring seeks to balance interest in the child without coming on too strong.
A second suggestion also seeks to build relationship, but slowly. Throughout the first year of remarriage, stepparents should be involved with stepchildren when another family member can be present.
This "group" family activity reduces the anxiety children feel with one-on-one time with a stepparent. Adults frequently assume that the way to get to know their stepchildren is to spend personal, exclusive time with them.
This may be true with some stepchildren; however, most stepchildren prefer to not be thrown into that kind of situation until they have had time to grow comfortable with the stepparent. Honor that feeling until the child makes it obvious that he or she is okay with one-on-one time. Another suggestion for building relationship is to share your talents, skills, and interests with the child and to become curious about theirs.
If you know how to play the guitar and a stepchild is interested, take time to show him how. If the child is interested in a particular series of books or a video game, become interested and ask her to tell you about it. These shared interests become points of connection that strengthen trust between stepparent and stepchild.
Sharing the Lord through dialogue, music, or church activity is another tremendous source of connection. For example, service projects are wonderful activities for parents and stepparents to experience together.
Step parenting advice on boundaries
Little brings people together like serving others in the name of the Lord. Discussing values through the eyes of Christ and having family devotional time can, also, strengthen your relationship, as well encourage spiritual formation in the child.
Ignoring or countering the wishes of the ex. If your stepchild's mom has forbidden dyeing her hair, midriff-baring shirts, or dating before she's 16, it's not your place to override her wishes. Your new spouse may no longer be married to the ex, but the ex still gets a say in parenting their children. The more helpful and understanding you are, the easier it will be for the entire family," Randel says.
If you have serious concerns about the stepchild's health, wellness, or safety because of the ex-spouse's rules, talk with your spouse about it.
If you just don't like the rules the ex-spouse has made for the child, step back and realize you don't get to control everything. Shop for great parenting reads at the Parents shop. As tempting as this may be, talking poorly about the ex-spouse is always no-no--even if the stepkids are doing it. Children can be damaged by exposure to ongoing conflict and repeated negative messages that put them in the middle of conflict. Be a sounding board if your spouse or stepchild needs to vent, but don't contribute to the bad-mouthing.
When possible, contribute to the quality of family life by helping to contain any conflict between your partner and their ex.
Pressuring your new partner to always put you first or seeing your stepchild's need for one-on-one time with his parent as a threat to your marriage. Children often worry that a parent's love for a new spouse will mean less love for the child.
If a stepparent does not understand the need for a child to have a deeply connected bond to his biological parent, problems in the family and the marriage can arise. First, understand the importance of a strong parent-child relationship and have confidence that their relationship does not undermine your relationship with your spouse.
Becoming a Stepparent
If kids want time with their birth parent, they should get it. So sometimes making yourself scarce can help smooth the path to a better relationship in the long run. Knowing ahead of time what situations could be a problem can help you prepare. Then, if complications arise, you can handle them with an extra dose of patience and grace. Steps to Great Stepparenting All parents face difficulties now and then.
But when you're a stepparent, they can be harder because you're not the birth parent. This can open up power struggles within the family, whether it's from the kids, your partner's ex, or even your partner.
When times get tough, putting kids' needs first can help you make good decisions. Put needs, not wants, first. Kids need love, affection, and consistent rules above all else. Giving them toys or treats, especially if they're not earned with good grades or behavior, can lead to a situation where you feel like you're trading gifts for love. Similarly, if you feel guilty for treating your biological kids differently from your stepchildren, don't buy gifts to make up for it. Do you best to figure out how to treat them more equally.
Keep your house rules as consistent as possible for all kids, whether they're your kids from a previous relationship, your partner's kids from a previous relationship, or new children you have had together.
Children and teens will have different rules, but they should be consistently applied at all times. This helps kids adjust to changes, like moving to a new house or welcoming a new baby, and helps them feel that all kids in your home are treated equally. If kids are dealing with two very different sets of rules in each home, it may be time for an adults-only family meeting — otherwise kids can learn to "work the system" for short-term gain but long-term problems.
It also helps to "spread" rewards and punishments across both households. When kids do a good deed and earn praise or a privilege in one household, they should receive similar praise or rewards when they go back to the other household. The same goes for punishment, such as loss of electronics time for breaking a house rule. This can help kids feel like both families are on the same page, and it keeps one parent or household from being the "good guy" or the "bad guy.
Find special activities to do with your stepkids, but be sure to get their feedback.
New family traditions could include board game nights, bike riding together, cooking, doing crafts, or even playing quick word games in the car.
The key is to have fun together, not to try to win their love — kids are smart and will quickly figure out if you're trying to force a relationship.