Dealing with stepchildren can be difficult. As a stepchild myself, I know that we can sometimes make a stepmother or stepfather feel like an intruder. You have to remember that you are the new person in the house, and we often don’t want things to change. However, don’t despair. There are things that you can do to make the transition easier for both you and your stepchildren.
Don’t play favorites
Don’t play favorites with your stepchildren. It doesn’t matter if the children involved are stepchildren or biological children, be fair with all children involved. May children feel neglected or second best when new siblings are introduced into a blended family. They sometimes feel that their stepparent is showing favoritism to their own biological children. In some instances, the new stepparent may show favoritism to their stepchildren over their own children. This is not a good idea. Make it a point to treat all the children fairly.
Don’t try to replace their biological parent
Don’t try to replace your stepchildren’s biological parent. Don’t insist that they call you “Mom” or “Dad”. We already have a biological parent. Simply respect that. If your stepchildren do decide to call you by “Mom” or “Dad” that is okay, but make sure the decision is theirs.
Take things slow
Your stepchildren may be especially close to their custodial parent. You could even be viewed as an intruder in the family. So, what can you do? Don’t push things. Don’t expect your stepchildren to instantly adjust to the new family dynamics. Give them time.
Ease into discipline
Disciple can be a touchy issue. Your stepchildren may have had only one authority figure in the home until now. So, they may resent your attempts to introduce new rules and regulations. I know I did. To prevent unnecessary conflict, don’t try to push your rules on your stepchildren all at once. You and your spouse should discuss your parenting styles. Then, decide how discipline will be handled. Once these issues are resolved, you and your spouse should discuss these rules and expectations with your stepchildren. In the beginning, it will be easier to let your spouse discipline their own children. And, your stepchildren will resent you less.
Don’t speak negatively about their biological parent
One cardinal rule to remember is to never talk negatively about your stepchildren’s biological parent. Even if your stepchildren make negative remarks, you should not.
Get to know them
Take the time to actually get to know your stepchildren. Spend some time talking to them. Discuss their interests. Do things together that you can all enjoy, and allow your relationship to grow over time. I love both of my stepparents, but it didn’t happen overnight.
Develop a thick skin
Things may be tough in the beginning. Your stepchildren may say things that hurt your feelings. However, don’t take offense. They are just reacting to their emotions. So, take what they say in stride.
Don’t force interaction
If you have children of your own, don’t try to force your stepchildren and your biological children to interact. I was lucky. I had stepbrothers and sisters that I actually liked. We spent a lot of time together and we enjoyed it. However, this isn’t always the case. Start slow. You can plan family events, but allow your children and your stepchildren to decide if they want to socialize with each other.
Slowly blend traditions
Birthdays and holidays can prove challenging. Don’t try to change your spouse or their children’s family traditions all at once. Instead of insisting on a new family tradition, you will need to compromise. Over time, your new family can form its own traditions.
Adjusting to your stepchildren will take time, patience, and understanding. So, take things slow and don’t expect change overnight.