Parenting your step-kid like your biological child

My blended family is not really blending the right way…

Do you tend to get “along” with one of your kids more than the other?

Do you have more “interest, likes, or hobbies” with one of your kids than the other?

Has your son or daughter ever stated that you “love or like their sibling more”?

Parenting is hard! It can be plain difficult. Parenting is also fun and full of beautiful moments.

As a step-parent you may have or currently be experiencing your fair share of push from your step child as well as personal feelings in the connection you have with your step child. The reason you are closer to your biological child is because you have been their with them from day one. Your step child on the other hand is new and foreign. To create a healthy and meaningful relationship you are are going to have to learn how to be a step-parent.

Parenting with equal rights.

The first recommendation I am going to give you is to reflect on your parenting with your biological child versus step child. Put yourself in your step child’s shoes and consider the parenting style. Things to reflect on:

  • The way you communicate with your step child verbally and non-verbally. Consider if you use more or less eye contact.
  • Are you overly direct?
  • Do you present yourself enthusiastic and engaged in their subject.
  • Are you present?
  • Are your doors always open for support? Does your child know that your doors are open for support?

After you have spent time reflecting on your parenting approach with your step child, consider a Q/A session with your step child. During this time it is vital that you and your step child have one on one distraction free time. Consider taking him/her out to a park or coffee shop where the two of you can converse.

During this time, the goal is to allow your step child to lead you to them. The questions that you are going to ask are aimed to connect a bridge between the two of you. Goals may include:

  • feeling connected.
  • Wanting to feel comfortable going to each other.
  • Understanding boundaries and comfort zones.

Common things that step parents may forget to consider when connecting with their step child:

A “traumatic experience”

Your step child has recently experienced a what can be called “traumatic experience” due to changes in life. Your step child has a new parent and potential new living environment. Consider how difficult it can be to go from one house with opposite or varying rules/expectations then the other. Really and truly think of how difficult it would be to just be forced to go back and forth. “Deal with it”.

  • Could you imagine having a set of rules at one place for a week, and BOOM! all of a sudden you are at another house with an entirely different set of rules. In addition, there are different people at the second location. Which means that you more then likely will be treated differently. Can you say “overwhelming”.

Support your child to get along with their step-sibling

Respect your step-child

Take time to respect your step child’s wishes. Communicate with your step on all the changes taking place. If your step child has moved homes or is not seeing their biological parent as often, as how they feel. Consider trying to create a stable environment in which your child can maintain social relationships.

Parenting with acceptance

Parenting with love, nurture and acceptance. Your step child is new to you and you are new to them. With this mindset parent. Work to show your step child that you are accepting them for who they are and not want you want.

Communicating with your step-child

Take time to talk. Create creative dates with your step child that are one-on-one. Show him/her how valued and important they are to you and to the overall goal that you have as a parent. Its okay to be clear and upfront with your child versus allowing your behaviors to speak for you. Tell them why you love them and what your vision is for the family and relationship.

Your step-child hates you “it’s okay”

If the hate you today, then let them hate you. Your step child may have a few good reasons to feel the way they do. Often when someone is forced away from their home environment, biological parent, or a decision that is not theirs the emotional result can be seen as anger or frustration. Give your child time to express their feelings and concerns. Be willing to ask questions and gain understanding as how you can connect with them and strengthen the relationship.

cover image: familia e amor; steven van loy