It’s a gift to enter into a family with kids. The children are blessed to have so much love around them, and your heart is in such a great place to want to be a part of their life. You can never have too much love in a family!
In some ways, the children will soak up this new relationship with you and will love having another parental figure in their life. However, there is another part to this equation. Change is sometimes a hard thing, especially for children. Children tend to struggle and show resistance when they are confronted with big changes. It’s important to take on your new step parent role carefully. Today, we are sharing ways you can enter into your new step parent role with ease.
We can’t stress this enough. Enter into this relationship gradually and show respect for the traditions the kids already have in place as a family. You are a part of their family now so join in, ask questions, and learn! As you show your appreciation for their traditions, you can slowly add in your own traditions as well. Chances are the kids will love joining in on your traditions and trying something new.
Showing respect for children’s space goes a long way. When you enter a relationship (any relationship) aggressively you can push people away. When you are respectful and observe and listen, things will naturally begin to flow. Keep in mind that asking questions is important. When you show interest in their life, you are showing that you care. Listening to what they have to say and tuning in to the emotion beneath their words is key. When you can pick up on their feelings, you are opening a new door of connection.
Don’t assume that your bond with your step children will be instant. This will take time. Take on this new role quietly and gently and become friends first. You will slowly gain their trust and can grow into a deeper bond with them over time. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much they respond to you when you enter gently. This may take time, so drop any assumptions that you will have an instant bond, and let it grow naturally over time.
Are you a new parent? Perhaps you don’t know where to begin? It’s ok to be vulnerable and say this. Let the kids know you are a new parent and ask questions like “tell me what a parent does in your house?” or say “I’m a new parent and I don’t know everything about being a parent so let’s learn together!” Don’t let them control you, but open up the conversation and let them know you are learning too. By letting them know you are vulnerable and excited to learn your new role, you will begin to understand their perspective as well.
You Aren’t a Replacement: Communicate This
Gaining a step parent can be hard on some kids, especially those who think you are trying to replace their Mother or Father. If this is the case in your new family, then the best way to approach this is to be direct. Let them know you understand their attachment to their Mom or Dad and how precious that relationship is.
Communicate that you have no desire to replace their parent in any way. Let them know you are glad to have them in your life, that you welcome them, and you’d love to have a relationship with them. Once you establish this, your step children will be able to relax and know that they aren’t betraying their other parent, and there’s no threatening conflict of interest in any way.
Blending families together is a beautiful thing! When you ease into your new step parent role and respect traditions and space, you’ll be able to pave your way to a great connection. If you’d like to learn more, check out our book Saving Your Second Marriage Before It Starts.
Are you a step parent? How did you take on this new role? We’d love to hear about your experience below!