03 Nov How not to be the wicked step-parent at Halloween
As the divorce rate in the UK is so high and break ups are constantly in the media it is no wonder that fragmented families are so common. It is very common to find yourself in a relationship with someone who has kids from another partner. If you don’t have any children of your own this can be daunting and sometimes even terrifying! How should you act and what are the do’s and don’ts of step-parenting.
Well it’s not too tricky if you follow these basic tips:
• Respect their quality time with their parent. Take a step back at times when they are around so they do not feel that you are a threat to their relationship with their mum or dad.
• Be yourself. Kids are very perceptive and will know if you are doing things just to impress them.
• Be kind and thoughtful with them and organise things to do that they will enjoy too.
• Take a genuine interest in them and ask them questions to get them talking about their friends, what they like and don’t like
• Don’t take rejection personally – they may well struggle to see their parent with a new partner at first.
• Keep calm and never lose your temper with them for rejecting you
• Keep public displays of affection to a minimum to avoid any awkwardness
• Leave the discipline to their parent in the early days and then when you feel ready agree boundaries with your partner first
• Never bad mouth their other parent, no matter what the situation.
• Be respectful of the routines they had with your partner before you were on the scene. Don’t expect everything to change because you are now there as children can feel rejected if you take their place or habits change to accommodate you.
• Sometimes to encourage them to come forward and be comfortable with you it is best to back off a little and allow them some time and space to approach you when they are ready.
Remember that every child is different and how they react to you will depend on their situation and how their parents feel about it too. If the other parent is unhappy that you are together with their ex it can put the kids in a tough position, even if they like you a lot. They will rarely feel comfortable going against their parent so it will be hard for them to accept them however much they may want to.
It is common for them to feel guilty for being around you and this can show up in several ways:
– They may be rude to you
– They may act as if you don’t exist
– They may kick up a fuss if you are around
– They may try to push you out or make you feel awkward for being there
The only way to deal with this is to communicate how you feel to your partner and find a way to work through it together. In many cases if you are patient and respectful of how the children are feeling it may well pass over time as they get used to you being around. If it is deep rooted and it doesn’t improve then you have to work out a way for your relationship to still work with your partner.
Don’t give up though as in my experience children like to see their parents happy and if you can show them that you do contribute to their happiness then it is hard for them to reject you for too long.
I have seen many step parents flourish with their step kids and it can be wonderful for the kids too so everyone wins. So don’t worry it’s not as scary as you think if you follow the advice above – you may even grow to love them as your own!