We've all seen movies and TV shows where the stepkids and the step-parent declare war on each other. Many people who get remarried automatically assume there's going to be a lot of drama trying to get the kids to like their "new" mom or dad. It doesn't have to be this way. There are several ways of breaking the ice with stepkids and create a nice environment where everyone gets along, for the most part.
No child likes to go through a divorce. It's no fun for a child to have to deal with two sets of parents, two different houses with two different bedrooms and their stuff split up all over creation. It's certainly not fun having to warm up to some new parent they don't really know that well.
So, don't force the issue. Start where they are -- not where you think they should be. Make sure they know the door is open for a relationship, but don't force it. They'll let you know how involved they want to be, and they'll open up to you when they're ready. In the meantime, you be you and just pay attention to the cues they are giving.
A common complaint from blended families is that the biological children get treated better by the biological parent than the stepkids do. There's no better way to communicate a negative message than by playing favorites or going the extra mile for "your children".
Whether or not your stepchildren have shown an interest in you, or whether they are your responsibility or not, it's really important to show them that they matter equally in your eyes. If you want to have a good relationship with them, you have to treat them fairly.
You don't have to be a parent right out of the gate. You're not in competition with their biological parents for the affection of the children, and you don't have to be the bad guy just so they'll respect your authority.
Getting the stepchildren to bond with you is a lengthy process that won't happen overnight. Your best plan will be to take things slow. Find things the children like to do and do it with them. Maybe they like going shopping or there's a band that they enjoy. This is your chance to get to know them without having to create a whole new parent for them.
A great way to get started is to invite them to participate in family traditions with your extended family. Not only will they get to know you better, they will also feel included and your family will get to know them as well!
In the aftermath of a divorce, the children still need to know that they will get individual attention from their biological parent. They want reassurance that that relationship is still going to go on and that it is on stable ground.
By giving them space to have one-on-one time with their biological parent, you're establishing trust with them that things will still be OK. This will go a long way towards creating a healthy relationship between you and the child.
Divorce isn't easy for anyone, and it's really important to take the needs of the children into account. By not forcing things, breaking the ice with your stepkids can be a rewarding experience for everyone.
If you are in Henry, Clayton, or Fayette counties and need help with a divorce, Family Matters Law Group is ready to hear your story and fight for your family, assets, and money. We've helped clients across the Atlanta metro area. Call or use our online contact form to set up an initial consultation.