Developing a relationship with your stepchildren can be difficult. While you may be excited to be a new member of the family and make connections, your stepchildren may see you as a reminder of their parent’s divorce. They also may also view you as a sign that their mother and father are not going to reunite. Through sensitivity and patience, however, you can start building a healthy relationship with your new stepchildren. Here is how:
Understand Different Personalities
Many family conflicts come from personality differences. Understand that your stepchildren may be quite different personality-wise compared to you or your own children. Additionally, when differing personalities are put together without time for adjustment, conflict is common. You may be extroverted, and your stepchildren may be shy. Differences like this can make bonding difficult. Keep in mind that no personality style is good or bad, just different. Do not let clashing personalities feel like a personal attack against you.
Be Patient and Empathetic
Change of any kind is challenging for most children. A new stepparent can be a difficult adjustment for a child to get used to. Remember that your stepchildren will likely need time to warm up to having you around. If the children have unresolved feelings towards their parent’s divorce, they may be unable to connect with you at first. Be understanding, and work with them as start to feel more comfortable.
Find an Activity to Bond Over
Parenting specialists recommend finding an activity that both you and your stepchildren like to do. Make a point of doing this activity together once a week or more, and your relationships will benefit greatly. Activities can be simple. Consider reading a book together, or spending time cooking in the kitchen. While going to a movie is a fun idea, try to find an activity that really allows you and your stepchildren to connect. Do not force together time, however. Find something both you and the child or children enjoy, so it does not feel forced.
Consistent Parenting between You and Your Spouse
Your new spouse hopefully understands the benefits of you bonding with their children, and should be there to support you. Tell your spouse that you would like to better your relationship with their relationship, and let them help you. If you are struggling, ask your spouse for guidance.
Additionally, both you and your spouse should be on the same page as far as parenting goes. If you enforce doing chores, but your spouse does not, your stepchildren may paint you as a villain. Instead, ensure that you and your spouse are on the same page about house rules such as bedtimes, curfews, chores, etc. This way the children are getting a consistent message from both of you about what you expect as parents.
Seek Help If Needed
Seeking outside help is not a sign of failure. A family counselor or therapist can help bring to light any issues your family is dealing with, and provide helpful insights and solutions. These professionals are trained to help families in conflict, so do not hesitate to reach out if you are struggling to bond with your stepchildren.
Family matters can be difficult. If you are in need of legal assistance, the qualified DuPage county family law attorneys at Abear Law Offices are here to help. We offer a wide range of legal services including divorce representation, post decree modifications, adoption assistance, domestic violence help, and more. Call 630-904-3033 today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.