If you find yourself in the position of becoming a stepparent, you will no doubt discover very quickly, just how daunting and challenging your new role can be.
You are starting a new chapter in your life with a different family setup than you have experience of, so the mission is to work out how to build a healthy relationship with your stepchildren and find a way to bond with them.
Finding yourself in the position of trying to bond with your stepkids is a journey that may well have started after getting help from someone like DivorceGuru in order to end a previous relationship, now it is a case of trying to build a new life, that includes stepchildren.
It starts with realistic expectations
It happens all too often that too much is expected from stepparents, too early, and therefore it is better to take the view that slow and steady wins the race, which means have realistic expectations about growing into the role of a stepparent.
The general assumption is that stepparents are almost expected to display affection towards their stepchildren from day one and maybe even attempt to assert their authority just as quickly.
The reality is that it takes time to grow into the role and build up a relationship, so rather than attempting to force the issue it would be better to lower initial expectations, as this will allow you a better chance to develop a relationship that stands the test of time.
Time and space
If you entering into home and adopting the role of stepparent after the biological father has moved out, this scenario makes it especially important to give the children some time to grieve for the parent who is no longer under the same roof.
If you have married and cemented the relationship legally, this will be the point where any lingering hope that a child might have of seeing their parents get back together, are finally dashed.
It is often very important to respect this mindset and understand that if you give your stepchild time and space to adjust to their new family dynamic, they are more likely to come around than when attempts are made to force the issue.
Solo time with their biological parent
If you want your new stepchildren to feel more secure and comfortable with your presence, it is often a good idea to ensure that the child has some solo time with their remaining biological parent.
This one-to-one time can help to heal any emotional wounds and you can often discover that after you have given them a bit of solo time, they are more excited to see you and happier to spend some time as a new family.
Trust and honesty
The foundation stones for any relationship are trust and honesty, and this is definitely something that you will want to aim to build with your stepchildren.
It will take time to build trust but you can work on demonstrating honesty and openness from the beginning. You can often find that when you successfully manage to build a decent level of trust and honesty in your relationship with a stepchild, they may even come to you to discuss concerns that they may be reluctant to share with their biological parent.
Work on building that bond, and you stand a great chance of truly connecting with your stepkids.
Madeleine Heron is stepmom to two older kids and has three younger kids of her own. Her parenting articles often discuss the needs of a blended family and how to keep everyone happy, incorporating the tips she has learnt along the way.