Improving relationships between kids and step-parents often takes more work than traditional parental relationships. Blending families is challenging, and your kids may be resistant to the change in authority that's given to the step-parent. Although you may get your kids to obey their step-parent, you want them to bond with and eventually love their new parent as well. Here are four tips to help with that process:
Tip #1 - Don't Call Them "Step Parents"
Don't divide your household by having your kids call your spouse "step dad." They should refer to him as dad, because that is the role he has agreed to take on. You also want your children to accept him as their father. Depending on the circumstances, that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
The problem arises when the kids maintain a relationship with their biological dad as well. You may be able to explain it all to your kids if they are old enough, and if they're not, you should tell them that there will be a time when they'll understand it all. Until then, the foundation for improving relationships between kids and step parents is to have children acknowledge the step parent as dad.
Tip #2 - Dine Together
Eating meals together helps traditional families bond, and they work just as well for improving relationships between kids and step-parents. At the very least, you should be eating one meal a day as a family. Dinner time may not be feasible for all families, because of alternative work shifts. Whatever mealtime you choose, the more you can do the better. Eating together gives you opportunities to talk, share and laugh. It's a time to bond, and if you miss those times daily, you lack many chances to build a healthy family relationship.
Tip #3 - Don't Criticize Your Ex
The last thing you want to do is pit a step parent against your kids' biological dad. Criticism does just that, and it's completely inappropriate to do it in front of the children. No matter how difficult the circumstances, hold your peace in the presence of your children when it comes to your frustrations with their biological dad. If you don't, you'll inadvertently destroy the bond between them and their step-parent, rather than improve it.
Tip #4 - Go out Together
Schedule family outings on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis with your new spouse. Don't exclude them, because that may help to drive a wedge between them and the children. Whether it's a family vacation, or a trip in town to a bowling alley, the entire family should participate. Getting out of the home and into a different setting does help to foster different types of conversations and opportunities for bonding. You're probably going to be the one who has to be proactive about planning these outings. Check local events in newspapers for ideas, or contact your tourism and conventions bureau if you're new to an area.
Time and work are some of the necessary ingredients to improving relationships between kids and step-parents. You have to be consistent, and don't give up when you hit inevitable bumps in the road.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.