Once you are divorced, a step-parent might become an important person in your child’s life. Whether you are the parent who is getting married or if it is your ex who is, it is imperative that everyone works together to foster the relationship between the children and the step-parent. This isn’t always easy, but your children will benefit if you can make the transition as smooth as possible.
Step-parents are placed in a precarious spot. They have some of the same duties as a parent, but they often have limitations about what they can do. One area that frequently presents a challenge is learning how to balance being an authority figure with trying to earn the child’s trust and respect. Here are some tips that might help step-parents to build relationships with the children and how parents can help:
It takes time and patience
A child’s relationship with a step-parent can’t be rushed. It’s going to take time for the bonding to occur. The adults need to find activities that the child can do with the step-parent. Even something as simple as working on a puzzle or building something together might help them to bond. If the activities take place outside of the home, remember that the child might not want to be away from their parents for too long. Both of the biological parents should share their enthusiasm about the activities so that the child will feel more comfortable with the step-parent.
Spend time as a family
Having some time with only the child and the step-parent is a good idea, but make sure you don’t discount the bonding that occurs with family activities. The child can enjoy time with both the parent and step-parent. The memories that come from this time can be great bonding material as you reminisce over them in the years to come. Biological parents might encourage this by finding activities the child and adults can do that everyone enjoys.
Support the children
One way that step-parents can build lasting relationships with the kids is to become involved in their school and extracurricular activities. Showing up to cheer at a football game or to encourage the child doing a science fair project can show the kids that their efforts are valued and that they are important. In some cases, both biological parents and step-parents will be at the same events. You should make sure that there are clear guidelines for conduct when all parties are present. These moments can become great memory-making events if everyone is behaves and cooperates for the children’s sake.