I often here about the difficulties of step-parenthood which I understand as there is not a lot of support out there so step-parents can vent. However, I don’t often here about the fun and bonding moments step-parents have with their step-kids. I am sure there are many but we often complain. Like anything else, if we continually focus on the negative, we will never see the joy and we will miss out on all of the happiness that there is to have as a step-parent.
Part of being happy in your family is the relationship you have with your step-kids. Some have great relationships and some have difficult ones, but like all relationships, we have to work at it. We have to do things to bring out the love and excitement in the relationship. As the adults and the step-parents, we need to put in the time to build the relationship with our step-children. Remember, they never asked to have you in their life or to even have you as a friend, so it will take patience, time and work to foster that relationship. In some cases it may take a while, as there are many hurdles to overcome as well as personality conflicts. Be patient and persistent. Slowly but surely you will find something that will connect you both.
I am fortunate to have a good relationship with my step-children but it takes work on my part. A lot of work. A lot of forethought and planning, a tremendous amount of patience, knowing when to pick my battles and most of all, making sure it always come from the heart. You may not love your step-kids at first and some may never love them at all, but in my experience, anything you do that comes from your heart, shows that you care, about them as a person and you care about your family. Caring is one step closer to love which brings you closer together as a family. When it comes from the heart it is honest and true. Most of the time the children will feel your heartfelt actions and will respond well.
Building a relationship doesn’t have to start with big gestures, it can be simple and small things that can make the difference. A few weeks ago it was Earth Hour so my step-daughter asked if we could shut everything off including all of our electronic devices to respect the hour and give back to the earth. I thought that was a great idea and so we decided to play card games by candle light. It was all of us playing. Keep in mind these are two teenagers who live with their head in their devices so prying them away from technology I assumed was going to be a bit of a battle. However, having the candles lit set a really nice mood in the house and everyone was happy. We were playing cards, the simplest of all games but had a blast. There was no music, no sound except for our voices and laughter. We ended up playing past the hour and almost 3 hours later realized how late it had gotten. It was a moment that we got to share together and it made us closer.
Building a relationship with your step-kids is as simple as that. Find something that they enjoy and build on that. It is something that they can connect with and can essentially connect all of you as a family. Take the time to look and ask and try something fun that will bring out the laughter and excitement in the relationship. When you can laugh together, you become connected and being connected is what forms a relationship.