Find out the best way to cope when your partner has a child from a previous relationship and discover tips on how to ease into a healthy relationship with your stepchild.
A blended family is created when you and your partner make a life together inclusive of children from one or both of your previous relationships. Regardless if the reason for this is the death of a spouse, divorce or simply because it didn’t work out with your ex, blended relationships are all around us and are not a negative thing. A stepfamily can give children a more loving, stable and well balanced family structure, in some cases, than your traditional family setting.
Getting remarried is a scary step all on its own but getting remarried with children (involved) from past relationships is a whole different level of confusion and fright. However, no matter how difficult things seem at the beginning, with patience, respect, communication and love, things will fall into place in its own time. Developing a bond is never a quick fix sort of thing. Genuine effort is the key to the equation.
What most individuals don’t understand is, it is hard not only on the children but on the stepparent and biological parent. Therefore, it is tough on everyone in the situation, so do not expect people to just adjust at the drop of a hat. Yes, surviving a bad marriage or hurtful separation can scar people and when they eventually discover someone new and loving, it can sometimes tempt them to settle down full speed ahead wanting to give themselves and their children a better life but always remember, slow and steady wins the race. Date for at least one to two years before you remarry so the family can gracefully move on from one situation to another.
Within that time frame, decide on parenting styles and include your new partner in your everyday life. This can avoid many arguments and signal deal breakers whilst allowing children to incorporate their new parental figure in their lives without feeling bombarded. Parents should not force their children to spend 24 hours/seven days per week with their stepparent. Set aside quality time with your children to communicate and understand how they are adjusting and any issues they might have. Trust me, this level of respect will pay off in the long run. Children, just like adults, like to feel special and heard. Respect their boundaries and allow them to set the pace as the relationship flourishes.
The stepparent should understand that children sometimes feel that liking them too much is disloyal to their other biological parent. For example, if a woman gets remarried and her child likes a birthday gift from their stepdad more than the gift received from their non-custodial father, they may feel guilty deep down inside. It is both the father and stepfather’s job to let the child know that it is okay and acceptable. Never criticise another parent and do NOT try to replace a deceased or biological parent. Forming a new, one-of-a-kind relationship is a better choice.
Another progressive way of bonding with your stepchild is to simply be interested in the child’s personality, likes and dislikes. Break the ice by sharing your interests and if anything catches his/her attention make a genuine effort to teach the child and together you will have a shared interest to at least talk about. Always try to pray together as a family and if you accept a role in a child’s life, do your best to have pure and positive intentions. Your presence will impact them in many ways. Influence is a powerful thing and once you establish trust, you are on the right path to successful bonding.
Move forward with love and patience, all things are possible.