- How can you connect with your stepchild?
- Meet them at their level
- Communication is essential
- Don’t overstep your boundaries
In this day and age, a lot of modern families consist of step-children and step-parents – often referred to as ‘blended families’. 👩👦👨👧 For many of these families, it can be challenging to navigate the complicated issues that can arise between step-parents and step-children.
In this article, we’ll give you some helpful tips on how you can best connect with your stepchild and avoid a bad relationship with your partner’s children.
How can you connect with your stepchild? 🔗
As a new or potential step-parent, you’re likely excited (and maybe a little nervous!) to get to know your stepchild better and build a relationship with them. But you should be aware of the common pitfalls in this situation, and make sure you go about this process the right way.
Keep in mind that many children whose parents are now starting new romantic relationships can feel insecure and confused by this new development, and many may be worried that their parent loves their new partner more than they love them.
This is a difficult situation for a child to navigate, and as a step-parent, you should make sure you communicate well with your partner to support the child in the best way possible as they adapt to the new family structure.
Meet them at their level 🧸
A great tip for connecting with your stepchild is to take an interest in what the child is interested in.
For younger kids, this is often fairly easy – sit down to play with them, draw with them, read them a book or ask about their favourite movies, cartoons or games, and you’ll soon build a connection with them. 🎨
When it comes to older kids and teenagers, building a connection as a step-parent can be a little trickier. Kids of this age may be dealing with their own issues related to growing up, or they may have feelings of hurt or resentment related to the changes in family structure.
Your best bet for creating a bond with older stepchildren is to take an interest in them and their hobbies without coming on too strong – you’ll want to try to find some common ground without trying too hard to force an instant connection.
If you’re struggling to connect with teenage stepchildren, a good tip is to try to do something creative with them, or spend time together outside of the home. Nature activities like hiking or kayaking can be a great way to spend time with older stepchildren because it allows you to get to know each other better outside of the home setting. 🚣♂️
For some stepchildren, it can be challenging to adapt to the changing family circumstances, and these issues at home can easily lead to feeling out of the loop at school. If you think your child or stepchild might benefit from some extra support, GoStudent is here to help. Kids get a lot out of online tutoring – in fact, 96% of the students we tutor see an improvement in their grades!
Communication is essential 💬
Put yourself in your step-child’s shoes and see the world from their perspective for a moment. They are a child whose parents are no longer together, which is a situation fraught with uncertainty and worry for a lot of children.
When the new partner of a parent enters the picture, this can cause an added layer of confusion for a child – what role will the new step-parent play in the family? Make sure that you listen to what your step-child has to say and check in with them regularly to see how they’re feeling. 👂
It’s important to approach your stepchild in a sensitive way and gradually build a strong and healthy relationship with them. You can’t expect to come in and have a fantastic relationship with your partner’s child right away – 🐢 you’ll need to slowly build trust and attachment between yourself and your step-child.
Try to stay calm and cool-headed even if the process is challenging, and keep in mind that you can always reach out to organisations like Family Lives for help and advice when it comes to building a happy and well-functioning family relation.
Don’t overstep your boundaries 🚫
As a step-parent, you should have conversations with your partner about appropriate boundaries between yourself and your step-children.
Families often find that it’s natural for a new step-parent to hold back initially and take on more of a parenting role when they’ve built a relationship with their step-children. 🧱 For example, if a new step-parent quickly establishes many new household rules, this may not go down very well with children who aren’t used to being parented by someone new.
Keep in mind that the child’s parents are the ones who should be doing the bulk of the parenting, and you should work out what your place is with relation to discipline and other issues with your partner. If you’re new to parenting altogether or if you and your partner have differing views on parenting, it may be helpful to read our guide to different parenting styles, and you may also want to check out some very useful tips for step-parents by Supernanny. 📖
We hope this guide helps you to navigate the relationships in your blended family in a positive way. Keep in mind that we have a fantastic team of tutors ready to help your stepchild with whatever they might need some extra support with during this time of change. You can book a free trial class with us today to check out how we can help you!