Stepparenting can be tough, especially if your stepkids are teenagers. But you need to get along with them because a good stepparent-stepchild relationship is essential for the well-being of a blended family. Here are some tips for getting along with your stepchildren.
Give them some time and space. If your new spouse got divorced from their children's other parent, your marriage has shattered the kids' hope of their parents' reunion. If the other parent has passed away, the kids might think that their parent wants to replace their mom/dad with another person. In either case, they probably won't like you very much in the beginning. Give them time and space to grieve. It is also important to let them know that you don't intend to replace their biological parent.
Don't trash your spouse's ex in front of the kids. Even if the other parent isn't the nicest person, the kids probably still love them. Saying bad things about their parent won't earn you any brownie points.
Remember that they are your family now. Stepkids are not an appendix to your spouse, they are part of your family now, so treat them accordingly. You are not their babysitter, you are their parent. If you have your own children, beware of favoritism. This goes both ways. Your biological kids shouldn’t get special treatment for just being them, but you also shouldn't overcompensate by favoring your stepkids. From now on, all kids in the house are your kids.
Get to know them. What is their favorite color, book, food, school subject? What is their teddy bear's name? Lear as much as you can about their habits, hobbies, interests, likes and dislikes. It's great if you spend some time with them without your spouse. Just don't rush it, take baby steps. Spending too much time together might be too overwhelming for everyone involved.
Develop trust. Before love comes trust. Your stepchildren won't love you if they can't trust you. Remember that children are very perceptive, they can sense when you are being insincere and dishonest. So don't lie to them and always keep their secrets if they trust you with them. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, don't violate it.
Become their friend. You won't become their “real” parent (at least not right away), but you can become their friend. Let them know that you care about them and want to support them. And don't make them call you Mom/Dad unless they want to. They can call you by your first name or make up a special nickname for you.
Start new traditions. A new family should have its own traditions that will bring its members closer together. However, you should remember that your stepkids had a life before you came into the picture. Don't make them ditch old traditions that are important to them.
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