Stepmother out for bike ride with her stepchildren

how can i improve my relationship with my step kids

You don’t have to fall into the step monster roll, it is possible to improve your relationship with your step kids one that is built on trust and support.

The reality is – it takes time to grow a bond with stepchildren.

Forming a relationship with a stepchild isn’t as easy as one thinks, and at times it may feel like an uphill battle. Julia Roberts is a prime example in the movie Stepmom when her world gets turned upside down after taking on her ‘stepmom’ role. It lands her in hot water in a few scenes, such as leaving her job early to get the kids at their school activities. 

Another uphill battle is getting them to actually like her to add to the new pressure to be there for these kids. “Mom, if you want me to hate her, I will,” says the little boy, Ben, to his mom, who clearly resents her. This movie is a prime example of all the hurdles a stepparent may need to endure. Clearly, the dynamics can be hard for all parties to cope with, especially if either the mom or the dad makes the kids choose sides or says bad things about their new significant other – with all the hurdles it entails. It doesn’t exactly sound like anyone is racing to date a single mom or dad, but love is love, and people can’t exactly turn off a deep connection. If you love someone, you want to love everything about them, including their children. That said, below are some tips for building those difficult relationships and creating healthy dynamics with your stepchildren:

It’s the small things that count- going for a walk, or a bike ride.

  1. Accept the child. I used to say that I would never date a man with children. I didn’t want to deal with any mama drama or deal with any layers of jealousy that could potentially come with dating a single parent. I could imagine getting jealous if my partner was conversating on the phone with his ex, having to hear previous memories from his kids, or simply feeling constantly compared.  Years later, I became a single mom. Thankfully, the man I’m with now doesn’t have those negative beliefs or perceptions that I once had about dating a single parent. He chooses to be accepting and embrace his role as a “fun stepdad.” He completely accepts the situation, accepts my daughter, and treats her like his own. If you want to form a relationship truly, the first step is to accept and embrace all the aspects and dynamics.
  2. If you plan to walk in and act like you own the house and start spitting out rules left and right, think again. That is no way to get on a stepchild’s good side. The goal is for them to perceive you as a valuable resource and someone they can confide in. The most important way to get there is to be friends first. Because some breakups or divorces can be bitter or one or more parties will bad mouth the other, a child could be influenced negatively not to like you, so be patient with the process. Treat a stepchild like a new friend. Ask what they enjoy for hobbies or music and try to make a connection. Having them teach you something can make them feel good, especially since you caused those positive emotions. Find ways to make connections before implementing any rules.
  3. Let the biological parents take on the discipline role. It’s a good idea to have the household establish house rules, chores, curfews, etc. However, if these rules aren’t listened to, the biological parent should take the lead in discussing the issues and consequences, not the stepparent. This helps ensure that if the child fights back, they will see their parent as the mean and not the stepparent. Plus, they could potentially see you in a better light if you try to take sides with them to help them out.
  4. Take it slow. The new “family dynamic” can take months to form, if not years. Rushing to truly form a relationship may backfire if the child feels that you are trying too hard. Be patient with the process.
  5. Have fun and get to know your stepchild. They may be the complete opposite of you: opposite gender, opposite personality, and opposite hobbies. So get into their world. If they like gaming, ask them to teach you how to game. Yes, it may not be the way you’d ideally like to spend your time, but if they see you putting in the time and effort to try to meet them in their world, they may view you as cool and Viola! A friendship slowly emerges as a result.

Overall, it takes time to build a relationship with a stepchild, so remain patient and be open to the process. The relationship will evolve when you become relatable, friendly, and accepting. Like any other relationship, you need to lead with an open heart and find some common ground to connect.

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