Bonding with stepchildren is one of the most challenging things you can try and do in your marriage. These simple tips can help you know how to bond with step children.
10 Easy Ways to Bond with Stepchildren
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Trying to create a strong Blended family and figuring how to connect with stepchildren is not an easy task. This is especially true because you are trying to navigate a new romantic relationship and co-parenting as well. So there are a lot of factors involved!
In my experience, bonding with stepchildren takes extra effort but isn’t impossible. When you take the time to try and connect with them and get to know them it makes the bonding process easier.
My Experience Bonding with Stepchildren
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I remember meeting my stepdaughter for the first time. I actually met her before I met my husband! She was 4 at the time and took quite a liking to me. We got along really well. She talked to me about everything: her dad’s boat, how she would draw in the garage on her easel, and even about Princess Dolphin, her rabbit. We established a bond early on without even knowing that I would one day marry her dad!
Soon after meeting Ty’s daughter, I met Ty. We decided that we might want to date each other to see where it could go.
We casually dated for a couple of months with no intention of involving the kids in our relationship. I mean, what if it didn’t work out? That would have been so hard on them!
After awhile Ty and I decided that we really liked each other and wanted to see where this would go, so we decided it was time to have each other meet the kids and see how it went.
My memory of the first time Ty met Colby is very vivid. Colby decided to stare him down with the “evil death stare” as we call it in our house and it really didn’t go well at all.
The second time they met was after everyone was all hyped up on Mountain Dew after the San Francisco Giants had just won a playoff game to make it to the World Series. Again, it did not go well!
These encounters were not successful. And it was hard!
We decided that it was time to really make some special attempts to see if the boys could bond with Ty. If Ty and the kids weren’t able to get along and didn’t particularly like each other, then marriage would never work out.
The same went for my relationship with Ty’s daughter. because if we could not bond then there would always be contention.
Lucky for me Ty’s daughter and I had already bonded a little bit before.
Bonding with stepchildren is not an easy process. In fact, establishing a bond with stepkids is probably one of the most difficult things you will do in your blended family marriage.
If you don’t establish a bond with stepkids you can almost guarantee that your home will always be filled with some sort of contention.
So how do you bond with Stepchildren?
How to Bond with Stepchildren?
1. Don’t Try to Force Bonding with Stepchildren
The number one rookie mistake is trying to force the bonding process with your stepchildren.
Take your time. Move slowly. Be intentional Don’t try and force a relationship immediately. Let your stepchild set the pace.
Recognize that this situation with getting to know one another isn’t just new for you. It’s new for your stepchildren as well.
We didn’t fall in love with our spouse overnight, so we can’t expect our stepkids to fall in love with us overnight.
2. Discover Your Stepkids Interests
Make the effort to find out what some of your stepkids favorite things are.
Do you both like the same sports teams? Are there topics you can relate to each other on? Maybe you both have the same favorite food or movie.
These little things are great starting points that can help start to build a relationship with one another.
If you are struggling to find anything you can relate to each other with, make some small talk on topic with things you already know they like.
“I love doughnuts too, what’s your favorite kind? Maybe on Saturday, we can go to the doughnut shop together.”
“I haven’t seen that movie, what’s it about.”
This is a great way to connect with stepchildren, through simple interests.
3. Treat Your Stepchildren Like Your Family
I know this might sound odd to say to treat your stepkids like family, but it is so important to be intentional with this. If you stepkids only come every other weekend or for school breaks, it is easy to treat them like a guest in the home.
Don’t do this! Make them feel at home! Give them jobs to do around the house like everyone else, let them pick the game you play every once in a while (not all the time, because everyone needs a turn), and do activities they also enjoy.
Make sure they feel just as a part of the family as every other family member.
4. Include Your Stepkids
It seems like common sense to include your stepchildren, but sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in your normal routine and your stepkids can end up sitting by themselves.
If this happens, invite your stepkids to join in what you are doing, with everything. You may feel like it’s unspoken that they are invited, but they may be uncomfortable at first not knowing if you want them to join in.
Kids can tell when they are being left out, so make an effort to include them in all things, including chores and household responsibilities.
5. Be Real and Communicate Your Intentions with Bonding with Stepchildren
Kids know when you are being fake, I mean we know when they are being fake right? They know when you like something or don’t like something.
Don’t pretend to be something you are not just to try and establish a relationship.
Be real. Wait to find something that you BOTH like and bond over that! I promise you will find something. It may just take a bit of extra time and effort.
Communication is the key! Sit down with your stepkids and let them know that you want to have a relationship with them. This really does open up a lot of barriers!
6. Put in the Time for Bonding with Stepchildren
Bonding with stepkids definitely does not happen overnight.
It takes time. It takes energy. It takes effort.
Are you willing to figure out how to bond with stepchildren?
Once you establish the relationship it doesn’t end there. Just like your marriage, you need to continue to nurture the relationship for it to continue to grow.
7. Don’t Play Favorites
It is easy to favor your new stepchild to try and get them to like you.
Don’t give your stepkids special treatment over the other kids. This causes resentment and it’s very contentious. It might help make them like you, but this just only causes contention for everybody else.
Don’t do it!
It hurts everybody in the long run. You don’t want to have your stepchild establish you as the “pushover stepparent”.
Treat everyone the same. Stepchildren just want to be treated like one of your kids!
8. Give them Time with their Bio Parent
You might be wondering how letting your stepchild spend time with their bio parent helps with bonding with stepchildren and how this could help establish a bond with the two of you, but it does!
It lets your stepchild know that you care about their relationship with their bio parent and in turn strengthens yours.
Make sure that they have special time together. This could be going out for ice cream, reading a book together, or even shooting baskets together.
It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it does need to be a special time set aside specifically for this reason. Perhaps a kid coupon book is a great investment that gives them opportunities to spend time with their bio parent!
9. Ask Your Spouse for Advice on How to Connect with Stepchildren
If you are struggling with bonding with stepchildren, ask your spouse if they have any ideas of ways that you can try and bond with their child. I mean they do know their child best, so it’s the perfect person to seek guidance from!
Asking for help doesn’t mean that you are failing it means that you are really trying. Don’t be afraid to ask!
10. Learn from Other People’s Experience on How to Connect with Stepchildren
Bonding with stepchildren is HARD! It can be frustrating.
Find others who have gone through the blending process so you can talk to them about what works. This will be your greatest blessing in blending a family.
I have been there when it is hard! That is why I created How To Successfully Blend a Family where I share all my secrets on blending a family!
So there you have it! With these 10 Simple, but effective strategies that will have you bonding with stepchildren in no time! Share with us in the comments what has helped you know how to connect with stepchildren!
Check out these other blended family posts!
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Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!