Written by Jana Angeles
It’s tough being a step-parent, especially when you’re trying to impress your partner’s kids. You’ve got to get used to the fact that you’ll have a weird, awkward relationship with them at first. As disheartening as that sounds, in their eyes, you’re the bad guy. Maybe there was a terrible falling out in the family before you and your partner started a relationship with each other. Maybe it takes a while to get to know the kids because they put walls to protect themselves. Although it sounds like a not ideal situation, having a positive attitude and feeling like you have purpose in getting to know the kids is all you can offer as a step-parent. Here are some of our top tips to ease the transition of being a step-parent and what you can do to start building a healthy relationship with them.
Consider Former Partners
It takes a while to adjust a new routine with the children so at first, maybe you should have minimal contact with the former partners and focus on the present. It’s easy to feel like you have to compare yourself to them and assume that you’re there to fill the gap of said parent. You should be able to make your own mark when it comes to interacting with them and not be afraid in being yourself when getting to know the kids. Falling for the comparison trap is a no-no and whatever time the children spend with your partner’s ex is their business not yours.
Focus On The Positives
While it can be difficult to focus on the positives right now, reflect on your past experiences with your stepchildren and take the moment to show yourself praise when you do make them smile or laugh. It’s easy to feel misguided sometimes but when you have some motivation to interact with the kids, you’ll feel a lot better about yourself. Though it can feel like a long journey being part of their lives, you have to be patient and understanding of the situation. Give them the space and time to appreciate the little interactions you share and reflect on these for more improvements in your relationship down the track.
Take The Time and Get To Know Your Stepchild
Stepchildren are a different category because sometimes you’re getting to know teenagers instead of little kids. With little kids, they can be more forgiving in that sense due to their young age and how it’s much easier to build a relationship with them overtime. Teenagers can be much harder because they tend to be more reserved and private with their lives. They may not like you at first and may make things unpleasant for you. Just remember that they may not have fully accepted the relationship you have with your partner, but in time they’ll be able to see how much effort you’re putting in. If they see you are getting to know the good and bad parts of themselves as well as their likes and dislikes, you’ll earn their respect in no time.
Care For Yourself
It can be exhausting trying to please your stepchildren and the rest of the family. For many, it’s a difficult adjustment and the challenges you face may drain you. It’s okay to feel like this at times and you don’t need another person’s permission when it comes to self-care. If you need to take a break and reserve your energy at another time, then do it! Taking care of yourself should be part of the routine. Remember that forming a proper relationship with your stepchildren isn’t an instant thing, it takes lots of progress and baby steps!
Take It Slow
As mentioned above, it’s important to not rush things when it comes to being a part of your stepchild’s life. Taking it slow is all you can really do and this may be frustrating for some people at first. In the first year or two, you should be showing care and support for the children but to also know your boundaries as well. This could mean not taking on an active parenting role and just staying on the sidelines for a little while. In all honesty, it’s totally fine if you have to do this because in the end, to truly nurture the relationship between you and your stepchildren is to reach a level where you can be comfortable with one another.
Being a step-parent can be rewarding depending on how much effort you’re willing to put in when getting know the stepchildren. It’s okay to feel like you’ve failed and that you don’t have their approval at first. They will eventually come around and make you feel at home when they realise you are showing the same love and respect like any other parent would.