Helpful advice on parenting step children
Being a stepparent is rarely an easy thing to do. Being a parent in general is a great responsibility. The truth is that children, especially young teenagers, are very sensitive to change. They me behave in a certain way, they may say hurtful things, but the key is to remember that the situation has the hardest impact on them. Every case varies, so there is no general advice that can resolve all problems with raising a stepchild, but there are several things recommended by psychiatrists that can facilitate the process of bonding.
Avoid many changes at once
First of all, it is usually a good idea to take some time before remarrying. Taking at least a year will allow the stepchild to slowly, but surely accept the situation and to get used to it. It is unpleasant enough for a kid that his or her parents are separating. A rapid change such as moving together with your spouse can have a very negative effect and will not help in becoming closer with his or her kid.
Synchronize with your partner
Talk about boundaries, house rules, habits – how things will be done in general. Try to always back up your partner. If you have really serious issues with your stepchild you can do a little acting with your partner. Talk with them first and define if it the right thing to do. Then, you can play a scenario like this – your loved one trying to levy something unfair on their kid and you stepping in with logical arguments and dissuading them. It will prove that you understand your stepchild and can bring you closer. Still, this is a last resort and it is not always ethical to do so. Always talk it out with your partner.
Find common ground
Try to find similar interests – hobbies, music preferences, sports – anything. If there are none, try nevertheless. If he or she likes playing football, take them to the playground, pick them up – spending time together as much as possible can only improve your relationship if you are understanding and calm. Don’t push it too much though – give the kid some space to accept you in his life.
Treat them like an adult
Don’t try to behave as if you are the biological parent. Recognize that it will take time for you two to get used to each other and don’t expect to bond immediately. Treat the stepchild with respect and explain your decisions, but try to always make him or her feel loved and secure. Talk with them like with an adult, but don’t be too distant. The key is to show that you listen and you are not trying to take over their mother or father. Aim to become friends –someone the child is comfortable talking with.
The most important thing is to be patient. Building a relationship of such a kind always takes time. There will be rough periods, denial of your authority and making you choose sides, so think about all these things in advance. Talk with your partner about them; try to bond with the child in small steps and, most of all, always show affection and respect.