Child and stepparent relationship

child and stepparent relationship

"Early in remarriage, the most successful stepparent-stepchild relationships are . Stepparents who get in the way of the parent-child relationship are asking for. Becoming a step-parent can be challenging and rewarding. Taking it slowly and building a relationship with stepchildren help step-parenting go smoothly. Becoming a stepparent can be scary and overwhelming -- for you and your Over time, let the child set the pace of the relationship; when she's ready for a.

It's much easier for kids to adjust to new living arrangements when adults keep negative comments out of earshot. How much time the kids spend with you. Trying to bond with kids every other weekend — when they want quality time with a birth parent they don't see as often as they'd like — can be a hard way to make friends with your stepkids.

child and stepparent relationship

Remember to put their needs first: 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.

Becoming a Stepparent

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.

child and stepparent relationship

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.

Advice for Stepparents: 7 Ways to Connect With Stepkids

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.

Becoming a Stepparent (for Parents)

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.

child and stepparent relationship

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. When a partner's ex is deceased, it's important to be sensitive to and honor that person. If you and your partner share custody with the birth parent, try to be courteous and compassionate in your interactions with each other no matter how hard that can be!

Never say negative things about the birth parent in front of the kids. Doing so often backfires and kids get angry with the parent making the remarks. No child likes to hear their parents criticized, even if he or she is complaining about them to you. Don't use kids as messengers or go-betweens. Try not to question kids about what's happening in the other household — they'll resent it when they feel that they're being asked to "spy" on another parent. Wherever possible, communicate directly with the other parent about things like scheduling, visitation, health issues, or school problems.

Stepchildren often feel confused about new family relationships, feeling both welcoming and resentful of the changes new people bring to their life. Give children space and time to work through their emotions. Give yourself permission to not be completely accepted by them. Their acceptance of you is often more about wanting to remain in contact with their biological parents than it is an acceptance or rejection of you.

This realization will help you to de-personalize their apparent rejections. Give your stepchildren time away from you, preferably with their biological parent. The exclusive time stepchildren had with their biological parent before he or she married you come to a screeching halt after remarriage. Honoring your stepchildren by giving back this exclusive time will help them to respect you sooner.

Children's loyalty to their biological parents may interfere with their acceptance of you. Children are often emotionally torn when they enjoy a stepparent.

The fear that liking you somehow hurts their non-custodial, biological, parent is common. The ensuing guilt they experience may lead to disobedient behavior and a closed heart. In order to help stepchildren deal with this struggle: Allow children to keep their loyalties and encourage contact with biological parents.

Never criticize their biological parent, as it will sabotage the children's opinion of you. Don't try to replace an uninvolved or deceased biological parent. 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.

child and stepparent relationship

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.

Advice for Stepparents: 7 Ways to Connect With Stepkids

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. 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.

child and stepparent relationship

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. 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.

Find Your Role with Discipline Perhaps the most confusing role for a stepparent is how to set limits, teach values, and enforce consequences. Indeed, the most common pitfall for stepfamilies is when the biological parent hands off too much responsibility for child rearing, and the stepparent begins to punish the child for misbehavior too quickly.

Rather, a unified team approach that involves both biological and stepparent is best.