Relationships with stepchildren are often strained. Stepchildren may seem difficult to get along with and understand, but the feelings of stepchildren are often misunderstood and are quite often overlooked. Still, stepparents often look for ways to improve their relationship with their stepchildren.
When trying to improve your relationship with your stepchildren, try to put yourself in the shoes of your stepchildren before passing judgement on their character, personality, and behavior. Try to see your stepchildren’s point of view before dismissing their feelings and concerns.
Understanding your stepchildren’s feelings is the first step in improving your relationship with your stepchildren, and improving your relationship with your stepchildren can go a long way in improving your relationship with your spouse. Although stepchildren will eventually grow up and move on, stepchildren will be a part of your life as long as you are married, so if you want to make the most of your relationship with your spouse, accepting stepchildren unconditionally is a must. Parents love their children no matter what, but in reality, the love of a spouse is hedged with thorns, especially when stepchildren are in the picture.
Although stepchildren must be accepted unconditionally, this doesn’t mean stepchildren should be allowed to step all over a stepparent. Manipulating stepchildren sometimes know how to play their parent to get what they want, and they use their parent’s divorce as a tool of manipulation. Keep this in mind when trying to improve your relationship with your stepchildren.
If you feel strongly about something regarding your stepchildren, talk it over with your spouse when the kids aren’t present. Don’t build resentment by not speaking up. You have every right to voice your opinion regarding issues that will effect you, your spouse, your finances, and your home.
If you feel your stepchildren are manipulating you and your spouse in an effort to get their way, it should be up to your spouse to ultimately lay down the law. If you are forced to be the one who says enough is enough, you will look like the evil stepparent, and your stepchildren will see you as the bad guy. In an effort to improve your relationship with your stepchildren, the parent should have the job of reprimanding. Unless there is smoke or blood, let your spouse handle touchy situations whenever possible. Be supportive to your spouse, but let your spouse have the final word regarding his or her kids. This will go a long way when trying to improve your relationship with your stepchildren, and you will improve your relationship with your spouse in the process.
This doesn’t mean you should let your stepchildren walk all over you. This simply means when a decision is to be made that effects your stepchildren, let the parent decide what to do, and let the parent provide the answer, whether you agree with the answer or not. Your spouse and stepchildren got along fine before you entered their lives, and sometimes it’s best to take a step back before stepping on toes. Blood is thicker than water, and if you step on toes too many times, your relationship with your stepchildren and your spouse, could end up on the rocks.
If you don’t show your stepchildren love and attention, don’t go out of your way to reprimand your stepchildren or put them down. You won’t improve your relationship with your stepchildren. You’ll only cause an irreparable rift between you and your stepchildren, and between you and your spouse. It’s clear that stepparents who behave this way don’t really have the best interest of their stepchildren in mind. Many stepparents who behave in this manner are resentful of their stepchildren, or they are resentful of their spouse’s ex husband or wife and take it out on “the enemy’s” kids, or they want to control the household with an iron fist.
Getting to Know Your Stepchildren
If you want to improve your relationship with your stepchildren, you have to have a relationship in the first place. You can’t expect to enter a child’s life and suddenly start parenting that child without getting to know that child first. Make a genuine effort to befriend your stepchildren, and make your efforts apparent to your spouse. If you stepchildren aren’t receptive to your attempts, your spouse won’t ever be able to truthfully say you didn’t try.
My husband and I have been married over a year, and I really don’t know my 16 year old stepdaughter. I have made a genuine effort to get to know her, but she really doesn’t want to know me. Sadly, she doesn’t even want a relationship with my husband. She chose to live with her uncle instead of move into our home, which was my home before my husband and I married. It’s my personal belief that my husband’s daughter doesn’t want to live with us because she will no longer be number one if she does. I have four children of my own, and she was used to being an only child. No one is number one in our home. We are all equal, and there are no kings or queens here.
Although my stepdaughter hasn’t been receptive to my friendly efforts, my door will always be open to her if she changes her mind. I’m not unforgiving. My husband realizes my efforts, and he also realizes his daughter is the one with the problem. No one can ever say I didn’t accept her, and no one can truthfully say I haven’t been good to her. I’d love to improve my relationship with my husband’s daughter, but a relationship has to exist before it can be improved. This goes to show it’s not always the stepparent’s fault when a stepchild/stepparent relationship is sour.
Be a Friend as Well as a Parent
If you do have a relationship with your stepchildren, there is a chance to improve that relationship. A parent is generally viewed as a parent rather than a friend, but it’s great if you can be a friend as well as a parent. A stepparent holds the perfect opportunity to be a friend as well as a parent.
Take a genuine interest in what your stepchildren are doing and what interests them. If you find you have something in common with your stepchildren, spend time with them discussing your common interests. Do things together that both you and your stepchildren enjoy. They will learn to like you and may even eventually love you as a parent and a friend.
The love between stepchildren and stepparents isn’t usually instant. Bonding doesn’t occur as it does with a natural parent and child, but time and patience can help improve the relationship between stepchildren and stepparents. Be a friend first, but be ready to offer parental advice to your stepchildren when they ask for your input. If you truly make an effort to improve your relationship with your stepchildren, someday your stepchildren might come to you and let you know they really do appreciate having you in their lives.