As I’ve been a step parent for almost two years, I still haven’t figured out what are the right and wrong things to do and say to your step child. But hey!! We are human and we all make mistakes.
I’m super lucky to have met Relationship Coach Rachel Jakobi and to have sat down with her to speak about my relationship with Jaden. Here’s what I have taken away from an expert!!
The 3 do’s and don’ts for every step parent to be aware of when entering into a relationship with a child who’s isn’t yours.
1. Remember that they’re the child and you’re the adult. There can be crazy emotions involved when it comes to you and your step kid. Things like jealousy and resentment seem more dominant than in a relationship with your own child. When you feel these feelings rear their ugly head, put your ego aside and deal with it in a mature fashion.
2. Make them feel loved. I’m not saying you have to love your step kids, because this doesn’t necessarily come easily for everyone. But remember, this child is going through a challenging and fearful time and could do with all the support they can get. Make them feel loved by listening to them and understanding them, compliment them when they deserve it, show your gratitude for great things they do, help them out when they need it, or even when they don’t.
3. Establish the relationship and set ground rules and boundaries. As you go in to this relationship you should have a discussion with your partner and the child (if they’re old enough to contribute) to establish your role in the child’s life. This will vary between families and depend heavily upon the role played by the other parent. Establish what support the child wants/needs from you, to what degree you will be involved in discipline and the things you are and aren’t willing to do for the child. This discussion should be revisited regularly and adjusted as the family evolves.
1. Ever say a bad thing about the child’s other parent to them. Children, especially those going through such a massive change, need stability. They get this from their parents. They need to believe that their parents are good people, this makes them feel safe. So never criticise the other parent as they may start to feel insecure in their relationship with them or begin to doubt whether they can trust you.
2. Set your expectations too high. Kids are pretty switched on. They can feel your expectations and will likely withdraw from you. Instead, relax, and just allow the relationship to unfold naturally. You’ll likely discover surprisingly beautiful things.
3. Take it personally. Step parenting, undeniably, is a tough gig. But put your feet in the kid’s shoes, this is truly life-changing, self-defining stuff. There will be times, despite your best efforts where they’ll hate you. In these moments, stand strong and just continue to support and care for them. They’ll thank you for it one day.
I hope there’s something you could take away from what is written above - without Rachel’s advice I wouldn’t have be able to share this with all of you.
Being a step parent is hard enough without some guidance and if I knew I could do a simple google when I first started out to have what Rachel has laid out for me - I would’ve probably been in a better place.
But life will give you lessons through experience, Rachel just made me sure that I was on the right path.