Being a stepparent is often equal parts rewarding and challenging, particularly when it comes to establishing the initial bond with children in a newly blended family. By taking the time to get to know each child individually, and respecting personal boundaries and emotional needs, beautiful relationships can grow and thrive.
The following are a set of helpful tips to aid any stepparent seeking to nurture a healthy bond with the children in their blended family.
Plan Quality Time
One excellent way to bond with your stepchild is to plan a solo outing. This may seem intimidating at first, but it is a necessary step in building a quality relationship.
Here are some factors to bear in mind:
- Include an activity you can both enjoy, but do not force any more intimacy than the child is comfortable with.
- Do not attempt to bribe the child. This will set up an unhealthy dynamic where you will be expected to cater to every whim.
- Make conversation, but do not force the parental role. Allow the child to lead any discussion and be comfortable with silence if necessary.
- Be prepared to engage in regular outings. Relationships take time to build, and you will need to be patient while the child adjusts to your presence. Trust will build over time.
If your stepchild is not comfortable with going on outings or spending quality time together, it may be a matter of getting to know each other better in a comfortable setting. The best way to break this barrier to intimacy is to go straight through it. Do not feel rejected if the child refuses your attempts at communication and bonding. Keep trying to engage the child while respecting his or her personal space. The idea is to make the child feel welcome, appreciated and included — whether that child chooses to participate in activities or not.
Children will test boundaries. This is normal behavior, and it is especially true for a stepchild who wants to see how far they can push you. Practice patience, but do not be afraid to assert yourself and your opinions of any inappropriate behavior. By presenting a united front with the biological parent, the child will come to accept the new situation and show more respect to the person whom mom or dad has chosen as their new life partner.
Blending families is a slow process that pays big rewards. Patience and understanding create the foundation of strong emotional bonds between parents and stepchildren.