Monday, February 4, 2013

Climbing The Stepladder - Part 3


Step 3 - Respect your stepchildren

Although it may be difficult and seem like a thankless task, it is important that you respect your step-children. It was, after all, you who chose to step into their lives.

Respecting your stepchildren means accepting them for who they are. It means challenging the expectations you may have of them and shedding any unrealistic ones.

Respecting your stepchildren means giving them time – time to come to terms with the many changes in their lives, 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 respect your stepchildren:

·      Remember that it wasn’t them who invited you to become part of their lives.
·      Accept that your step-kids may not like you and that you may not be too fond of them either.
·      Give them and yourself time to establish a relationship.
·      Encourage them to express their feelings, whatever they may be and remember that they don’t need you to “fix” them, they just want you to “hear” them. 
·      Don’t take any hurtful things they say, or their difficult behaviour, personally.
·      Get as much information as possible about the challenges you are likely to encounter as a step-parent.
·      Learn about the stages of child development, parenting and step-parenting.
·      Seek out step-parenting information and/or support groups.
·      Be patient and kind to them, even if they are hard to take.

Having discovered these life skills made my stepfamily-journey (yes even the many tough stretches)! 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 clients (step-parents and others).

Nobody’s journey is easy. Learning to respect ourselves, our partners and anyone else with whom we have a relationship is a vital skill that helps us create an enjoyable life. Why not try and see for yourself?

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