Stepping into the new year with a fresh perspective on your step - parenting situation may be detrimental to the well being of your marriage and the children involved. I have been a “step mother” for almost 5 years however, I have been in the lives of my kiddos since 2007. The road has not been an easy one and I don’t think it's ever intended to be that way. Nevertheless, we can help alleviate some of the struggles we experience by freshening up our perspective and cultivating a new approach and attitude to our current way of doing things.
Step parenting can feel like there is no end in sight when the relationships are strained. It is important that you look at your situation and make a decisions regarding the relationship you would like to foster with the children. From day 1 I have always made the decision that I would treat my stepchildren as my own children. For some, depending on the age or situation this may not be the sentiments and that is okay. However, you do need to determine how you would like to foster a healthy relationship that is full of love and trust.
Set ground rules for how you would like to communicate with your step child. If verbally doesn't seem to work for you currently, try using a journal. This is a great way to communicate feelings and build trust.
Quality time. Create moments to spend a couple minutes with the child. This can be while cooking dinner, a trip to Starbucks or just a quick car ride to pick a sibling. These are moments when you can chat and get to know one another better.
Be inclusive. If you have children or a child outside your marriage, be sure that there are activities that the entire family do together. You want to make sure you are being inclusive of all children.
Hone in on the similarities. If you and the child enjoy similar artists, food, movies, whatever, use that as a catalyst to build upon your relationship.
Lean on your spouse to help you along the way. Ask them for suggestions and advice to help you foster the relationship you desire with your bonus child!
These tips are to help jumpstart a healthy relationship, not a perfect one! I have a close relationship with my bonus children however, there are challenges that I still experience. These are what I like to call growing pains. Overtime and as the child(ren) become older, there will be situations and circumstances that remind you of your position with the child (if the biological parent is in their life) as the step parent and it may hit you like a ton a bricks but don’t let that deter you from the relationship that you guys have built.
Step-Parenting can be beautiful however, you have to make sure there is respect for all parents involved. When parents do not demonstrate respect, it can cause chaos and create barriers that are difficult to break through. I hope you this has given you hope and a new perspective as you settle into your role and relationships with your bonus children. Check out my other post about Step parenting