Kids, parenting, remarriage, Step Families, Stepmoms

How To Bond With Your Stepkids

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… 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 and 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. I remember the first time Ty met Colby, Colby decided to stare him down with the “evil death stare” as we call it in our house… It didn’t go well. The second time they met was after they were 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. We decided that it was time to really make some special attempts to see if the boys could bond with Ty because let’s be honest, if the kids didn’t like him or got along with him, then a 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 marriage. If you don’t establish a bond you can almost guarantee that your home with always be filled with some sort of contention.

So how do you bond with your Stepchildren?

These 10 Tips will Help you Bond with your Stepkids!

Move slowly.

Take your time. Don’t force a relationship immediately. Let your step-child set the pace. You know how all this is new for you? Well, we have to remember that it is all new to them as well. We didn’t fall in love with our spouse overnight, so we can’t expect for our stepkids to fall in love with us overnight.

Discover what your step-child is interested in.

Make the effort to find out what some of their favorite things are. Perhaps a sports team, a favorite movie, or food. Do you like these same things? If so, that can help start a relationship. If not, then use their favorite thing to talk to them. “So how did the Giants do last night?” “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.” There may be ways to connect with them through these interests.

Treat Them Like Your Family.

I know this might sound odd, but it is true. If you stepkids only come every other weekend or for school breaks, it is easy to treat them like a guest in the home, but this doesn’t help establish a relationship. Make sure they feel just as a part of the family as every other family member.

Include Them.

If you see your stepchild sitting by themselves, invite them to join in what you are doing. Kids can tell when they are being left out, so make an effort to include them in all things, including chores and household responsibilities.

Be Real.

Kids know when you are being fake. 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. Wait to find something that you BOTH like and bond over that! I promise you will find something

Put in the Time.

Bonding with your stepkids doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It takes energy. It takes effort. The question is Are you willing to put in the time? Once you establish a relationship it doesn’t end there, just like your marriage you need to continue to nurture the relationship for it to continue to grow.

Don’t Play Favorites.

It is easy to favor your new stepchild to make them like you, but this just only causes contention with 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 step-parent”

Give them Time with their Real Parent.

You might be wondering 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 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.  

Ask Your Spouse for Advice.

If you are struggling with bonding with your stepchild, 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!

Learn from Others.

Bonding with your stepchildren is HARD, hands down. 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.

So there you have it!  With these 10 Simple, but effective strategies you will be bonding with your stepchild in no time!

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Marriage, parenting, Step Families, Stepmoms

Dear Stepmom: It’s Going To Be Okay

Dear Bonus Mom,

We know you are out there! We know what you are probably thinking and feeling because we have been there too! We know at times you are depressed, burnt out, feeling like you are walking on eggshells in your own home, and most of all feeling like you don’t belong in a sea of other moms. we promise you, you are not alone!

Thanks to Hollywood when we hear the word stepmom we cringe. We instantly think of Cinderella and her evil stepmother making her do everything for everyone, treating her horribly, and then locking her up in her room so she could not find happiness.

We know that’s not really how stepmoms are. We know there are people like you out there that put your stepkids ahead of your own happiness. We know that there are people like you who love unconditionally even though you feel like you get no love in return. We know that there are people like you doing everything for your family and getting none of the credit. We know that this is probably the hardest thing you have ever done in your life, but you wouldn’t change it for anything.

So in case someone hasn’t told you lately, Thank you!

Thank you for loving your bonus kids like your own. Thank you for taking on the hardest thing you have ever done in your life so your bonus kids can know what it is like to be raised in a home with parents that love each other. Thank you for being there for your bonus kids, even when it feels like you are the third wheel. Thank you for always looking for the good in every situation when it’s easier to look for the bad. Thank you for staying involved and trying your hardest to bond with your bonus kids. Thank you for having thick skin and a soft heart when it comes to being a bonus mom.

So next time it gets hard just remember, you are not alone. Next time it gets hard just remember every day is a new day to try again. Next time it gets hard to think about everything you have overcome! Let that give you the strength to keep going. Next time it gets hard know there is probably another bonus mom out there struggling just like you. Next time it gets hard just remember it will all be worth it. Next time it gets hard remember, it’s all going to be okay.

Love,

Another Bonus Mom

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Divorce, Kids, remarriage, Step Families, Stepmoms

You Never Really Stop Loving Your Step Kids Even After Divorce

Many years ago I became a stepmom for the very first time. The boys were 18 months and 3 years old. Their dad convinced me that I just couldn’t live without him or these adorable little boys. I always wanted to be a mom and this just allowed me to get a jumpstart on that.

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The boys would come and visit us every other weekend and once throughout the week. I bonded rather quickly with them and loved to play with them. Over time our time together increased. Fast forward a few years and the boys were living with us pretty much full time. It was certainly a full house with 4 boys my husband, me, and a dog all in 1400 square feet!

 

I always knew my role as a “stepmom”. Over time with the boys always there the lines slowly blurred together. It seemed to happen that I shopped for their birthday and Christmas gifts. Baking cookies for after school snacks became the norm. Attending IEPs (the oldest was special needs) and parent-teacher conferences fell into my job description. I was the one who potty trained the kids and cleaned up poopies. My clothes were for wiping snotty noses.  When the kids were sick I stayed home with them. Volunteering in their classrooms became one of my favorite things! Cheering for them at sporting events and all the other activities was my favorite thing to do. I was pretty much “mom”, without the title. I did it all for them and I loved it!

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Deep down I knew these boys weren’t legally mine.  They were part of me though, and honestly, I was a mom to them, without the title. When they needed something they knew that I would be there. Some of my favorite moments were holding them reading stories or playing video games on the couch with them. I would do anything to protect them, I would put their needs above my own, and their happiness was my number one priority.

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Over time, my husband and I changed… We tried to work through some things, even went to counseling, but it just didn’t work out and we decided that it was time to move on. Leaving the life I had worked so hard to build was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in my life, but I knew deep down it was the right one.

 

After my husband and I separated we made the decision to keep all the kids together through the rest of the school year. I still got to see C & C all the time, help them with homework and continue to share that special bond we had formed over the last 9 years together.

 

The day came all too quickly when it was time to say goodbye to video games on the couch and sharing homemade cookies after school. Me, being terrible at goodbyes, promised them that we would still see each other all the time at their brother’s sporting events and other activities and that they could come visit me or call me whenever they wanted.

 

At first, we saw each other all the time, but over time it became less frequent, conversations became shorter and more fictitious and love seemed to slowly dwindle.

 

I will never forget those sweet little boys, who are now 16 and 17. I still remember their precious smiles the first day we met. They could both light up a room with their sweet spirits. Thankfully, Facebook shares these memories with me occasionally!  I can’t help but wonder what they are up to and how they turned out.  There are times that I wish we could sit on the couch and snuggle and eat cookies again. Do they miss me like I miss them? We are only left with the memories we made so many years ago I hope that I made a difference in their life because I know they made a difference in mine.

~C & C if you ever find this, know that I still love you, know that I am always here for you and that I think of you often. If you ever need me, I’ll be there…

 

You Never really stop loving them

 

Divorce, Marriage, married life, remarriage, Step Families

An Open Letter to the One I Love

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So many years ago I hit rock bottom, divorced, going to school, raising two boys, trying to make ends meet, and wondering to myself how long this stage of my life would last. I remember like it was yesterday falling to my knees in prayer pleading with God that if he wanted me to get married again that he would literally have to drop someone in my lap because I didn’t have time and I certainly did not want to go through the “high school dating scene” again. That night my head hit the pillow and I dreamed a dream. I was standing on a cliff in a wedding dress marrying the man that would take care of me for the rest of my life.

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A few days later I met you, and at the moment I knew… I knew you were the man in my dreams that I had seen. You were the one that would pick up all my broken pieces and put them back together again. You were the one that would help me learn to trust and that I would give my whole heart to. You were the one that would be patient with me as I questioned everything. You were the one when I was finally ready to get married again you would be there.

We dated for several months, me playing the skeptic the whole time and looking for any red flag that I could and you still stood there silently waiting for me to be ready. You allowed me to question everything about you and about us. Many times I just wanted to give up and stop trying, because that was easy, but something greater than me told me to keep going and keep believing in the process of falling in love with you. I am so glad I listened…

Finally, one day I decided I didn’t want to ever live without you. I wanted to wake up with you next to me and go to bed with you by my side. I wanted you to always be there and share all of life’s joys and sorrows with me. The day you asked me to marry you was one of the best days of my life because I knew you would always be there for me.

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Our wedding was small but beautiful as our life began as one. Since then you have become my best friend and the one I truly love. You have helped me become a better person, a better mom, and a better wife. You have cheered me on with all my dreams and have been there to catch me when they don’t always work out. You have pushed me to try new things and comforted me on my weakest days.

Married life hasn’t always been easy as we have blended our kids together and learned to merge parenting styles, but never once have I wanted to give up on you, or us, or our family because I know hard things are worth it! And let me tell you this life has been 110% worth all the tears, sleepless nights, and frustration to get where we are right now.

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We have come so far in 4 ½ years. We have probably grown as a couple more in this amount of time than most couples do in 15 years of marriage.  We have 5 of the most perfect children all unique and special in their own way. We have a love for one another that I never thought was possible. I have everything I have always wanted in life, because of you. Perfection is something that doesn’t exist, but let me tell you this life to me is perfect, because of you. You have provided, protected, and loved me and the kids unconditionally.

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I have learned more from loving you than I have learned doing anything else in my life.

Through the ups and the downs, there is always something to be grateful for. Sometimes there are more downs than ups, but those are the times where you learn to love more. You have taught me how to love more even through the most difficult of times. I have learned what unconditional love is from watching you with the boys.

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People in the world might look at our life and call it crazy, but I call it perfection. This life is my happy place. I would not trade away this adventure for anything. There was a reason God gave you to me… There was a reason one Summer night I saw the man I would marry in my dreams. I could not be more grateful and honored to call you my husband, to call you my best friend, and the one I get to spend forever with.

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Thank you for loving me, even when I don’t deserve it. Thank you for picking me up when I fall. Thank you for supporting me through life’s toughest challenges. Thank you for keeping me on my toes with your sarcasm and your humor. Thank you for your compassion and love when I fall short of where I want to be. Thank you for your unconditional love you offer me and the kids. Thank you for your strength, your wisdom, and your charm that keeps me going every day. I will always love you!IMG_4723

Love,
Me

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An Open Letter to the One I Love

Divorce, My Life, remarriage, Step Families

10 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Before Blending a Family

10 Things I Wish I Would Have Been Told Before Blending a Family (social)

When Ty and I got married 4 ½ years ago we knew we were fighting an uphill battle. We had been told that blending a family would be difficult, but we never realized how difficult. There are 10 things I wish someone would have told us to prepare us for the new adventure we were embarking on!

Continue reading “10 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Before Blending a Family”