Authored by Suzanne Alicie in Parenting
Published on 07-22-2009
Most children when asked what they want to be when they grow up don’t say that they want to be step parents. With all of the evil stepmothers in literature and the fairy tales they hear, that is definitely not a goal in life. Yet many times we are placed in that position and don’t regret it at all. Raising step children is the same as raising your own children, with a few small differences.
Step children can come into your life at any age. While younger step children may adjust quicker and after a while won’t remember when things were different, older step children will have a harder time adjusting, and will likely always think of you as the outsider in their family.
Dealing with older step children requires you to put yourself in their place. Imagine that your parents have divorced. You have adjusted to having two separate homes, two sets of friends, and two different routines. Suddenly one of your parents decides to marry someone new. Now the home that you have adjusted to and the routine that you know at that home are different all over again. You have to accept another person who is taking up valuable time that your parent could be spending with you. This new person may make rules and change things now that this is their home. Besides all of that, what if this step parent doesn’t like you?
Of course a step parent has insecurities as well, but we can’t expect children to be able to place themselves in our shoes. This means that much of the adapting and adjusting must be made by the adult, with all of these things in mind. The new step parent must become the child’s friend before they try to become their parent. Take the time to get to know your step children, and don’t force the relationship. After all, you married their parent, and plan to be around for the rest of your life. There is plenty of time for like to turn into love. By being available to your step child and opening your heart you will probably discover over time that you don’t even think of the child as not being yours anymore.
As in other relationships you can’t buy love. Don’t treat the step child as a guest or a visitor in your home, and don’t buy them extravagant gifts to get them to like you. A child needs someone they can depend on, and turn to, not someone to buy them toys and brush them aside. Set rules and present a united front with your spouse. Over time the child will flourish with a consistent schedule and rules. Resentment over the new rules and changes will fade as the child adapts and realizes that you are there to stay. This is a much more beneficial solution in the long run than the hottest new video game.
Step children, just like your own children aren’t going to like you all the time. That is normal in any parent child relationship. Especially as the child gets older and begins to face being an adult themselves. They will push you away and hurt your feelings just as much as your own children will. The key is to continue to be in their lives. You don’t give up on your children, and you don’t give up on your spouses children either. Eventually they will become adults and you will be glad you stuck with it through the rebellious teenage years. Because then you will see what wonderful adults you have helped raise.