To sum up the development of your relationship with your step children, you'll start a little bit as a baby sitter, later will be perceived in some manner like an aunt or uncle and in the long run as a serious parent, a very close member of the family. Remember you really wish to become their friend. Their mother and father are here for the discipline part, you're not. And yes, it is an advantage!
Parenting step children requires 7 steps:
1- Be straightforward in introducing who you are and what you want to be for them. Make sure that they comprehend you do not want to steal the place of their mother or dad. You should be out of the discipline issue from the beginning. Say you won't apply punishments but will only apply what has been determined with their parents by reporting undesirable behaviors to them merely because they decide of the consequences. It is an agreement you have. You simply would like to know your step children more and to be friends if it sounds o.k. for them. Talk openly to help them talk about what they really think. You are an "intruder" for them, it's completely natural.
2- Express some interest in your step children's lives. They might probably find that odd and may not participate much but keep asking questions, it will be worth it. Always attempt to know what is occuring in their lives, attempt to remember the things they discuss, the name of their friends, important dates... It will eventually astonish them. Parenting step children is really about being there.
3- Be a team with your loved one. Speak with one voice or the step children might attempt to take advantage of the disagreements you may have. If your spouse legitimates your place in the family, it'll be much easier for you.
4- Be consistent in your attempt to create a strong bond with your step children. It requires persistence of course but don't lose hope. If you are consistent in your behaviour, your step children will more likely know they can rely on you. Just be there for them and respect the time they need to get closer to you.
5- Spend an afternoon alone with each of them, do activities they like. On your way back, stop by a coffee shop to eat or drink something and chat a little. It will eventually allow them to see a different part of you and they will keep in mind what you shared and how enjoyable and relaxed it was. Doing one-on-one activities can make parenting step children incredibly easier and will build the relationship more quickly.
6- Be frank with what you feel. Let them know it's hard for you but that you truly want to be friends with them. Ask them what they feel. By speaking freely, they will be much more inclined to share their feelings toward you. Of course it may hurt a bit, but given that they'll be surprised you are not their enemy and understand them, they will feel compassion for you too!
7- Keep your sense of humot! It will help the family consider things differently and will soothe some tensions. Humor can really help you get closer to your step children.
It would be a lie to declare that parenting step children is very easy but with these 7 steps, I am pretty sure you can create your own place in their hearts and become a real member of the family. You will be respected and loved. Be available for them, be consistent, entertaining and compassionate.
A last word for the step mothers and fathers of extremely difficult children. You might want to visit the website I built with other parents where you can read reviews of a selection of parenting methods we tested. They can really help parenting step children that are really difficult to handle and communicate with. By the way, one of the authors of those programs is a step father! The link is my bio if you're interested. Complex situations have to be acted upon, otherwise they just deteriorate or at least do not create anything.
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Article Added on Saturday, February 27, 2010
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