Tips for Improving your Relationship with your Stepchildren
Being a step parent is very hard. Your role is not really well defined. You are not a parent, not a friend. Especially if you are living with the parent of your stepchild or spending a lot of time with them, you may at times feel like an outsider. And in a way, at least at first, you are. At the same time you have needs and preferences and how do you communicate those without alienating everyone and yet preserve your own sanity?
You are always compared to the real parent(s) and there can even be hostility because at times you are perceived as the obstacle for parents to be together. It takes kids time to accept that parents will never again live together or be a unit. There is typically suspicion on both sides. It is especially hard for a stepparent who does not have kids of their own. They can feel alone, almost like a third wheel.
Here are some suggestions to navigate this difficult predicament:
1. Go slow...
2. Do not try too hard, don't push yourself on the kids.
3. Abandon any preconceived ideas and let the relationships unfold as they may.
4. Remember if there is more than one stepchild, the relationship may develop differently with each and at a different pace. Different personalities are involved and chemistry is not the same between people.
5. Be prepared to give some space to the kids and your partner, they need time alone to be together. They have a history that needs to be preserved and respected.
6. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what it is like for them to have this new person have an intimate relationship with their parent.
7. Try to be supportive and helpful to them and develop your own connection.
8. To the extent that is possible, do not be a disciplinarian and put out rules and expectations very gently and respectfully.
For further inquiries:
Check out Irina Firstein, LCSW, at https://www.nyccouplestherapists.com
Phone: (212) 953- 1388