Building Relationships with Step Kids

by Pam Smith 

quality family time builds strong familiesBuilding a relationship with step kids may not always be an easy task. This can be especially true if you are dealing with older kids. Many step kids live with the notion that their parents will one day get back together. After all, they were once in love, why can’t they be again. Therefore, in their minds they only have enough room in their hearts for one mom and one dad. However, there are a variety of different steps you can take, in order to make your transition into step parenting a smoother, more enjoyable one.

One of the first steps to keep in mind is that you are not there to replace their biological parent. It is important that you understand your role as their step parent and share that with your step kids. In most instances, a step kid will be more receptive if they understand you are not trying to replace their mom or dad. Therefore, start your relationship off as merely their friend.

When you first begin your role as a step parent, it is important that you start slowly. Don’t jump into the situation head first. Instead, gradually work to build a relationship. The more time you take getting to know your step kids, the better your relationship will be. If you are the lucky step parent of younger children, come down to their level. Spend time playing games with them or going to the local park. Older kids may enjoy a shopping trip to the mall or a long bike ride.

As a step parent it is important that you leave the discipline up to the biological parent. Having said that, there may be instances when you will need to enforce some type of discipline if the biological parent is not around. However, a guideline of rules should be set up prior to being left alone with your step kid. This way, they realize that the biological parent has set up the rules and you are simply there to help enforce them. If you have problems with your step kids, it is important that you sit down with your spouse and get things worked out. In order to build an effective relationship with your step children, you must first have a solid relationship with your spouse.

When building a relationship with your step son or daughter, it is important that you never speak ill of their mom or dad. No matter what your feelings are for the other biological parent, you must never relay those to your step children. In almost every instance, this will simply backfire. Instead of drawling your step kid closer to you, it will generally push them away. They will quickly jump to defend their biological parent, leaving you out in the cold. Therefore, it is important that you show the utmost courteous behavior and respect to their biological parent.
It is also important that you leave ample alone time for the biological parent and your step kids. This not only gives them the important bonding time they need, it also shows that you are not there to take their parent away from them. They have already watched their mom and dad split up and have had their world turned upside down. Therefore, they may be very insecure about the stability of their relationship with their biological parent.

If you plan to have children with your spouse, it is important that you do not treat them differently than your step kids. Likewise, if you go into the marriage with kids of your own, all of the kids in the equation should be treated equally. Otherwise, instead of building a lasting bond with your step kids, you will quickly push them away.

In today’s society, step parenting is as common as traditional parenting is. However, unlike biological kids, you don’t instantly fall in love with you step kids. Instead, you must find a way to get to know your step kids and form a working relationship with them. Be sure to start off slow. Don’t push your step kids into something they are not ready for. Keep in mind what they have already been through, with the breakup of their family. By following some simple guidelines, you can build a lasting bond with your step kids. 

I am a 34 year mom of two girls, ages 6 and 19months. I am also a step-mom to two wonderful boys, ages 16 & 14. I have been married to my husband for 10 years. Currently, I am a Stay At Home Mom and enjoy every minute of it. 

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