As discussed in part 1 of this mini-series, unlike first time partnerships, step-relationships present a number of challenges that require special management. We not only have to manage relating with our partner but also with his or her children.
Today, we are looking at some important Do’s and Don’ts for more effective relating with our stepchildren.
MANAGING THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR STEPCHILDREN:
TAKE IT SLOWLY
Remember that relationships do not happen overnight. It takes time for people to get to know and like each other. This is just as true for your and your stepchildren as it is for anyone else.
DON’T expect your stepchildren to be overjoyed at suddenly having a step-parent in their lives.
DO give them as much time and space as they need, to slowly but surely get used to you. Remember that patience is a great virtue which is particularly true in a step-situation.
KNOW YOUR ACCEPTABLE LIMITS AND BE YOURSELF
It’s important for most people to have a harmonious family environment. In order to achieve this it is essential that you…
DON’T accept unacceptable behaviour. Stepchildren, just like all children, will test your limits and need to have a clear understanding of what these are.
DO ensure (with your partner’s assistance and support) that your stepchildren have a clear understanding of family rules and guidelines and that these are enforced.
THE BENEFIT OF BROWNIE POINTS
As your stepchildren may be wary of you at the beginning of your step-journey it’s important that you…
§ Make too many changes that have a direct effect on their lives.
§ Expect more from them than they can give (this could be more recognition, more affection, more consideration etc)
§ Rush them as they are learning to accept you as an important person in their lives.
DO make a conscious effort to score brownie points by:
§ Being considerate of them.
§ Taking an interest in the things that interest them.
§ Doing things with them which they find enjoyable.
REMEMBER THAT YOUR STEPCHILDREN ARE YOUR PARTNER’S FLESH AND BLOOD
Stepchildren don’t tug on your biological heart strings in the same way as your own child would. In all stepfamilies there will be times when it’s vital to remember that, although the stepchildren aren’t your flesh and blood, they are flesh and blood of the person you love – your partner’s.
DON’T forget this fact, especially when you are in danger of running out of patience.
DO remember that loving your own children is due to human instinct - loving someone else’s children takes much patience, vision and hope.
RESPECT AND APPRECIATION
All human beings respond to respect, appreciation, curtesy and kindness, so…
DON’T forget to be polite to your stepchildren. Be sure to say: “Please”, “Sorry” and “Thank you”!
DO praise them as much as you can – especially for acts of service and kindness.
DON’T forget that all children have an inbuilt sensor that detects fairness, therefore it is important that you ensure to ‘play fair’ and…
DO treat your biological and your stepchildren in similar ways.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of MANAGING STEP-RELATIONSHIPS – DEALING WITH VERY YOUNG STEPCHILDREN, SURVIVING STEP-TEENS & MANAGING YOUR BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN IN A STEPFAMILY