Tips For Bonding With A Stepchild
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Being a stepmom has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life AND one of the hardest.
Entering a child’s life as a stepparent is hard for them, too.
And let’s not forget the biological parent who is the bridge between the child and the new partner. They’re likely not having the easiest time, either.
But I’m here to tell you that things CAN become easier, although it usually takes some time.
Below are my top tips for bonding with a stepchild. I hope they help someone else out there get through the rough patches and to the other side!
1. Remember that this is likely unpleasant for everyone
Your partner wants you to be happy. They want their child to be happy, too.
Often, this means that your partner is getting pulled in both directions and it can be really stressful for them as you work out the new dynamics with your stepchild.
And that kid? Well, they may have been holding out that their parents would get back together. So, they may be hating this situation and their unhappiness may or may have anything to do with you as a person.
The day that my stepdaughter found out her dad and I were getting married, she told me that while she’d never wanted to have step-parents because she never wanted her parents to divorce, she was happy that she was getting me as a stepmom.
That was a major win.
2. Try not to resent the stories they tell about their family before you
It can be a really trying experience to constantly hear about your partner’s ex or stories about your partner’s previous family unit.
Here’s the thing though, that kid, depending on the age, may not understand that constantly talking about “the good ‘ol days” is bothersome to you. It’s just what they know.
As time goes on, and as you make new memories with your partner and stepkid(s), there will be plenty of reminiscing about your family and less about old days. This just takes time.
3. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you’ve already got something in common
Presumably, you and your stepchild love the same person – your partner and their parent.
When things get difficult, it can be helpful to remember that you’ve at least got this in common.
One of the easiest way for me to bond with my stepdaughter is to make my husband the butt of our jokes. We both laugh at the way he sniffles or amazing Hagrid voice he does when he reads Harry Potter out loud.
Obviously it’s not good to make fun of people for your own pleasure, but it might be okay to have a little fun poking fun at your partner as long as they’re a good sport.
4. Don’t try to be anything to your step-child, except for YOU
Okay, this one is going to sound strange. We’ve all heard that it is important for a stepchild to know that you’re not trying to replace their parent.
That totally makes sense, except that it leaves you with the question, “what exactly am I supposed to be to them then?!”
Well, with my stepdaughter, her and I decided a long time ago when I was dating her dad that I was just her “Ashleigh.”
I was just me!
What a relief.
Nowadays, I’m definitely her stepmom and I think she likes the solidity of that. But in the early days, it was nice to strip our new relationship of titles and just get to know each other as us.
5. Never ever make promises you can’t keep
It can feel really good to make promises to your stepchild, especially when you want them to be happy and secure in your new life together.
No matter whether you think the promises are big or small, they will be important to your stepchild.
I have always tried to watch every word I say to my stepdaughter because I never want to make a promise that I won’t be able to keep.
Over time, I’m proud to say that she relies on the things I promise because she knows I wouldn’t make the promise if it wasn’t going to happen.
I’ve found that this simple practice has built up a strong trust between us, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything!
If you have any tips for bonding with a stepchild, I’d love to hear them all below!