Becoming a step-parent is a life-changing, thrilling, and sometimes nerve-wracking experience. And that’s before you even start discussing adoption!
While your — and your step-child's — expectations can feel like they’re getting in the way of your relationship, don't worry; relationships take time. As long as you remember that you're doing it for them, things will work out.
There’s no rushing the process but that doesn’t mean you can’t help it along. Here are nine tips for creating a strong bond with your step-child.
1. Start early and take it slow. Invest in your relationship from day one — but do it appropriately. Creating a strong relationship isn’t a race, so don’t try to force anything; rather, let your step-child set a pace that's comfortable for them.
2. Make your relationship clear. Some step-children might shy away from forming a relationship with you out of guilt; make sure they know that you’re not here to take their mum or dad’s place. Respect their feelings when it comes to their non-custodial parent; don’t ever speak negatively about them!
3. Be invested in their hobbies. Make time for their hobbies and extracurricular activities. That might mean attending a concert, cheering at a football game, or driving them to their music lessons. Let them know you’re proud of their accomplishments but don’t go overboard.
4. Enjoy family activities together. You’re a family now so make sure to spend some time together. A few fun family outings can take some of the stress and awkwardness out of bonding and help you find common interests.
5. Offer one-on-one time. When you both feel comfortable, try asking your step-child to go on a solo outing with you. This will give you both time to focus and get to know one another a bit better.
6. Make little things count. Small gestures like helping out with a tough homework question or helping out with their chores are a great way to show your step-child that you’re invested.
7. Give them space. Gaining a new step-parent is a big change for most children no matter their age so don’t be surprised or hurt if they need some alone time.
8. Work with your partner. Your partner knows their children better than you do — let them know what kind of relationship you’d like to have with your step-children and see if they can help.
9. Don’t take everything personally. You’re both learning how to be a family, which means there will be mistakes and misunderstandings. If your step-child is acting out or closed off, try to see things from their point of view.
Relationships take time, but don’t lose heart! That special child needs you more than you might know.
Have any additions to our relationship tips? We’d love to hear them! Comment below to share and be sure to keep up to date with our blog for more adoption discussion. Until next time!