5 Ways to Bond with Your Stepchildren
The importance of building bonds between stepparents and stepchildren cannot be overstated, but first families need to know where to begin. Forming authentic and stable relationships with stepchildren is such an important piece of blending families that sometimes it can feel daunting. But bonus parents cannot allow that fear to prevent them from forging ahead.
Relationships need regular tending to maintain their health and encourage further growth, so whether you’re a brand new bonus parent or have been one for years, these 5 essential bonding methods should always be in your family’s rotation.
No lasting relationship can be rushed, so start your relationship with your partner’s children slowly. Allow them to get into the rhythm of their very new family structure. You may be tempted to plan big excursions and grand plans designed to make you fast friends, but overdoing it in the beginning will simply delay the relationship you desire most.
Make a conscious effort to start your bonding activities slowly and on a smaller scale. Take a short walk with your stepchild or invite them along on a quick run to a coffee shop. If possible, you can also offer to occasionally drive them to and from school, as those trips have defined and easily-followed timetables.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your relationship, you can start thinking about bigger and bolder ways to spend quality time with your step-children.
Never underestimate the importance of one-on-one time
You may think that time spent around the family dinner table or huddled on the couch for movie night is more than enough to build a great rapport with your stepchild. And while dinners and group activities are amazing opportunities for family bonding, the importance of one-on-one time must not be underestimated.
Group dynamics can often impact our behavior, which is why interacting with someone individually is vital. Family bonding time is valuable, but it may not strengthen individual bonds as effectively as one-on-one time would. So stick with the family rituals, as they add to your family’s story in fundamental and lasting ways. Just don’t let them stand-in for solo interactions with your step-children.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you truly wish to build a strong bond with your partner’s children, you need to get to know them. All efforts to strengthen your relationship must be founded on mutual understanding and respect in order for them to succeed, so start your bonding through conversation.
Understand your stepchildren as individuals and your relationship-building efforts will be more effective. Get into the habit of asking them questions and taking note of their answers. A genuine interest in their hobbies, hopes, and dreams will be the best foundation for your lifelong relationship.
Understand and participate in their interests
Our passions and interests are big parts of our personalities, so understanding your step-child’s individual pursuits will be essential for understanding them. When they talk about their hobbies, get excited! Ask questions, pursue interesting lines of conversation, and do further research and reading on your own time. Take every opportunity to be a champion for your stepchild’s most beloved pursuits. Children can never have too many parents in their corner, rooting for their success and happiness.
Or find mutual interests to pursue together
Not all interests and hobbies are easily shared, though. If your stepchild wants to master mini-golf, for example, but putting a golf ball through the rotating blades of a miniature windmill sends you into a blind panic, you may have a hard time building a strong relationship through that activity.
But you’re not simply limited to the current hobbies in play. Find a different, novel activity for the both of you to pursue. Join a local art class, sign-up for tabletop gaming tournament, or try your hands at felting your favorite cartoon characters. The new activity doesn’t have to be something that you and your stepchild will stick with forever. You’re simply pursuing new ways to spend time together and strengthening your relationship.
Building a relationship with your stepchildren will not always be easy. Blending families is a big task, but approaching your partner’s children with a sincere desire to get to know them as individuals will help. Show genuine interest in their thoughts, emotions, and interests--while still maintaining a healthy respect for boundaries--and allow bonding between you all to happen naturally.