Being a stepparent can be both rewarding and tricky. As a new stepparent, you are going to want to create a bond with your new stepchildren. Do not be surprised if it takes a new stepchild a while to warm up to you. At the same time, do not let this slow warming-up period think it will never get better. Keep working at it, and things will turn around. It will just take some time and some patience as they adjust to this changing dynamic.
How-to Bond with Stepchildren: Relationship Building
Spend Quality Time Together
As with any relationship, you have to spend time together to form a bond with stepchildren. Plan to do fun, special things with your stepchildren. Start by asking them what types of activities they like to do. By doing something that they already enjoy, they may have a more positive experience. Make sure you are spending good, quality time with them and that you are actually engaging. For example, sitting in the corner, distracted, on the phone will not show the kids that you want to interact with them. If you try to make these fun activities a routine, your stepchildren will start looking forward to spending time with you.
Understand Their Frustrations
Do your best to be patient with your stepchildren and understand their frustrations. For instance, you should listen to them, and hear what they have to say. Just as it took time for you to adjust to a new relationship, it will take the kids time as well. Also, keep in mind that you were able to choose your new partner. Remember that they did not have as much say in the situation. They will likely express their frustration at that at some points as you build your bond with stepchildren.
Get Involved in Their Life
Do things that show your stepchildren that you care about them. Go to their game, play, recital or other event they are involved in. For instance, ask them questions, and make sure to seem genuinely interested. Try and learn about the things that they participate in. Show interest in them and what they care about. Do your best to be supportive of them as well. One tip would be to offer to drive them to their practice or activity. This would show you care about something they are a part of, and also will give you some good one-on-one time with them.
Treat Them Like Your Own Kids
If you make your stepchildren feel like they’re just an extra thing you have to carry around, they will start to resent you. Keep in mind that these kids have just gone through some big changes, and likely just had some sad experiences. For example, try introducing them as your kids, instead of stepkids, so that they feel included. You definitely do not want them to feel like they are not really part of the family. Additionally, that includes not showing favoritism towards any biological kids you may have. The best way to do this is by treating them as if they were your own kids.
At the same time, do not try to replace their actual parents. Your role is not to replace their mom or dad, but to be a stepparent. Your role is special, and does not have to compete with their biological parents. Also, be candid with your stepchildren and tell them that this is all new for you too.
Although it may feel like it is taking a while, do not give up. Just make sure you are showing interest in your stepchildren and their lives, being patient and understanding, and treating them like one of your own. Over time, these steps will help you form a strong bond between yourself and your stepchildren.