Life Skill 3 - Honour your step-children
Although it may be difficult and in some stepfamilies can seem like an awfully thankless task, it is important that you honour your step-children. It was YOU - after all - who chose to step into their lives and THEY most likely had little if any say in this matter.
Honouring your step-children means accepting them for who they are. It means challenging the expectations you may have of them and shedding any unrealistic ones.
Honouring your step-children means giving them time – time to come to terms with the many changes in their lives, to give them time to grieve their losses, time to get to know you. It also means giving them space – space to express their feelings without being shamed for them.
Practical ways to honour your step-children:
- Remember that it wasn't them who invited you to become part of their lives.
- Accept that (to begin with) your step-kids maybe wary of you.
- Chances are that you will go 'all out' to be liked by your stepchildren. It's normal to feel disappointed, insecure and rejected if they don't respond with enthusiasm.
- Give them and yourself time to establish a relationship. Remember that establishing a good relationship is like a marathon, not a sprint!
- Encourage them to express their feelings, whatever they may be, and remember that they don't need you to fix them, just to hear them.
- Don’t take any hurtful things they say, or any difficult behaviour they may exhibit, personally.
- Get as much information as possible about the challenges you are likely to encounter as a stepparent.
- Learn about the stages of child development, parenting and step-parenting.
- Seek out step-parenting information and/or support.
- Be patient and kind to them, even if - at times - they may be hard to take.
The discovery of these life skills have made even the tough parts of my journey worthwhile. They’ve not only helped me survive but have helped me become secure in myself and in my relationships. They’ve also been useful to many of my stepfamily clients.
Nobody’'s journey is easy. Learning to honour ourselves, our partners and anyone else with whom we have a relationship is a vital skill that help us create an enjoyable life. Why not try and see for yourself?