My Stepkids Dislike Me – Now What? First thing you need to know is that stepkids have rejected stepparents as long as blending families from previous relationships has existed. There is no such thing as instant love and connections between stepparents and stepchildren. You are not alone!! The very fact that you are searching for help by reading this article shows that you are a good person who cares enough about your stepkids and want your relationship to improve.
You see, whether your marriage includes children from either your previous relationships or your spouse’s, becoming a healthy blended family takes some serious adjustments. The different challenges that you are undoubtedly warned about before your getting married can make the beginning of your new journey seem more terrifying than it should.
You may even be excited to bond with each other’s families to create this new healthy relationship. Still, it’s also understandable to imagine that your spouse’s kids may not be as welcoming to the changes at first. After all, adapting to sudden changes in life is hard even as adults, and we can’t expect to enter young people’s lives and not find ourselves in at least some tricky spots.
However, these issues are not as bad as most couples make them out to be. In reality, open communication, plenty of love, some patience, and mutual respect eventually make way for the possibility of a bright and loving future ahead. Ultimately, it’s all about how you work on developing a bond between you, your partner, and the children involved.
5 Things Which Make Your Blended Family Successful
Striving to make your blended family a replica of your past relationships is what it must feel like to experience a train wreck from the inside. It sets others up for confusion, disappointment, frustration, and eventual chaos because instead of embracing the differences, all your focus shifts on doing the exact opposite.
In such circumstances, you have to consider the five fundamental attributes that make your blended family a success:
1- Solid Foundation
Without a solid foundation, there’s no working relationship, let alone a functional marriage and a family. Not to mention that it takes more time and effort from both sides in a blended family to adjust as a couple. You have to grow and mature together into the marriage while parenting, basing it on mutual trust and understanding.
2- Established Boundaries
After establishing a solid foundation, you need to set some boundaries as well so that neither you nor your partner trespasses a no-go area without meaning to hurt the other person in the process. Unintentional invasion of privacy or crossing a limit that you were not aware of cracks the marriage from the inside.
Respect should be a given in any marriage – be it children’s behavior towards their parents, stepparent, or the couple’s attitude towards each other.
When stepping into a blended family, you have to realize that each member of your new clan may be at different life stages, having distinct needs in terms of love and acceptance. For example, teens behave somewhat differently than toddlers in the first few days. Whether you’re a parent or a stepparent, you have to understand and have compassion for everyone while honoring each other’s differences.
5- Room for Growth
When you leave room for growth rather than pushing others into accepting your presence in their life, you’ll see your family flourish down the years. As a general rule, people choose to spend more time together when they know they will not feel cornered or pressured to do it in the first place.
What a Blended Family is All About
Knowing the key elements that make a blended family successful is separate from understanding what it entails to enter one. Here is what you should expect (and not expect) when you’re set out to form a new family:
1- Falling in Love Isn’t an Overnight Process
You have to remember the time it took you to fall in love with your spouse as a reference point. It didn’t happen overnight, did it? While you may have felt a spark, attraction, or some other emotion towards your partner, it’s not possible to love someone at the first meeting or contact of eyes.
Similarly, you can’t hope to fall in love with your stepchildren in one day or a week. Love and affection always take time to develop, and you have to be patient when it comes to falling in love and waiting for the feeling to be reciprocated back to you.
2- Instead of Sudden Changes, Make Smooth Transitions
We all despise adjusting to severe changes that happen all of a sudden. However, when the transition is smooth, adapting to changes doesn’t feel like a burden anymore.
Hence, the best strategy to make your children and stepchildren get comfortable with both parents is to engage with them before the marriage over time. But first, you’ll have to discuss it with your partner regarding how to initialize this process, agreeing on a mutual plan to broach the subject matter.
3- Neglecting Marriage for Parenting Is a Big No-No
Taking both sets of kids with you to your weekend getaways or a theme park can prove to be a lot of fun and a great time for bonding. However, it isn’t a reflection of everyday life, and it shifts your focus entirely from marriage to parenting.
You need to strike a balance between both aspects, i.e., getting the kids used to you as a couple but also giving yourself space to spend quality time together.
4- Acting On Ultimatums Don’t Work in Your Favor
You may even find yourself in a situation where you feel like you have to choose between your partner and your kids. You could also be putting your partner in a similar position.
However, you must understand that marriage is not a zero-sum game; both partners can come out as winners. When working to form a blended family, you have to remind yourself as well as your partner that everyone should be able to stand on equal grounds.
5- Don’t Insist On Love, Insist On Respect
Insisting on love is an unfruitful approach in blended families, as you can’t possibly hope to make someone fall in love with you by your sheer will. Instead, it’s better to insist upon respecting each other. After all, respect is the first step leading towards love.
6- Cross Unrealistic Expectations From Your List
Setting up unrealistic expectations for yourself, your partner, or the kids is an irrational way to go around creating a blended family. In reality, you have to assume that putting in your love and efforts is like making small investments that would yield you considerable interests in the future one day.
7- Effective Communication Is the Key
Effective communication with your partner and kids is the key that transforms your barely functioning family into a thriving one. You have to listen to their needs without interrupting them and then, readjust your perspective accordingly before working out the possible problems based on mutual interests.
Step Parenting Do’s and Don’ts
1- Don’t Try Taking the Place of Their Mother or Father
Whether your marriage with your spouse results from a previously broken relationship, divorce, or death, you can’t replace the biological parent, and neither should you attempt to. If your stepkids want to stay connected with them, it’s their choice and right to do so.
You have to establish your own role in the family without asking your stepchildren to call you ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad.’ After all, you don’t need a title to develop feelings of love and respect and nor does it matter as long as there is emotional bonding between you and your step kids in the long run. Moreover, if they choose to call you by these terms, you must express your quiet gratitude towards them while trying your best to live up to the label.
2- Let the Children Set the Pace
Each child reacts differently from another when dealt with change, and you must respect their reservations while going as fast or as slow to get to know them. Shy children mostly require you to make your presence feel like a calm balm, while bold teens may want you to step up and take a direct approach with them. While it may seem challenging in theory, it’s not long that children eventually warm up to you when given a chance.
3- Use Routines and Rituals for Bonding
Engaging in old routines and creating new ones with your stepchildren work to help you bond with them effectively. Participating in rituals is the best way to unite a family as a whole, and it constructs a solid foundation for you and your stepkids when they know they are walking on stable grounds.
Taking steps like reserving the first Saturday night of each month for a big family dinner, planning weekly game nights, and offering them a chance to talk openly on your casual beach strolls encourage healthy family habits. Moreover, it proves to your stepchildren that you’ll be there for them in good and bad times.
4- Find Constructive Ways to Deal with Disrespect
It’s hard enough when parents find themselves losing their temper with their own child, and things get out of control. When stepparents engage in an emotional or physical blowout with children, it’s bound to leave a permanent mark between them. As a result, it ends any chances of building trust and respect in the family.
That’s why you should refrain from losing your cool or demonstrating your anger by swearing at your step kids or hitting them. If you find yourself getting worked up due to your stepchild’s misbehavior, talk about it to your spouse and determine whether disciplinary actions are necessary.
5- Stay Out of Parenting Discussions Between Your Partner and the Ex
It can be tempting at times to weigh in with your opinion when your spouse and the ex are discussing their children. However, you should realize that you don’t have a say in the matter when it comes to your step kids. Moreover, exes still holding on to their anger or resentment can cause you a world of pain if you try inserting yourself in such decisions.
Although you can certainly provide your input into the parenting situation, these matters should be discussed privately with your partner. However, building a positive relationship with your spouse’s ex is even better for encouraging the formation of a healthy blended family.
6- Don’t Participate in Arguments Between Your Partner and Stepchild
To preserve your relationship with your partner and stepchildren, it’s best to let them both work out and resolve their conflicts on their own. When you try stepping into the situation, it might make them feel powerless, like you’re crossing a boundary that you don’t have the right to.
While standing by your partner and being their support system is necessary, it’s better not to give feedback or advice when it’s not welcomed.
7- Never Bad-Mouth the Ex Under Any Circumstances
Talking poorly about the ex, even if your spouse or stepchildren do the same, is a boundary you should never cross. Listen to them with empathy and be kind towards them. However, it is not your place to put down the parent of a child in any situation.
Moreover, while you may not realize the consequences at the time, such negative comments expose children to ongoing conflicts. When they grow around hearing you bad mouth someone like this, they do the same going onwards, learning from their past.
Consult with Professional Life Coaches at Marriage Means Moore
Step-parenting can often take a toll on relationships when you haven’t already built a solid foundation with your partner. However, our experienced life & relationship coaches can effectively help you keep things on track. At Marriage Means Moore, we offer marriage coaching and relationship tips to turn your struggling blended family into a happy home!
Moreover, if you are facing any problems in your marriage or relationship, we also offer a variety of resources for couples while giving you the option to contact a coach. We also recommend picking up a copy of our book, How Communicating Saved Our Marriage, to establish constructive communication in your relationship.