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Keeping in step!
Bonding With Step-Children
Member Name: kingfisher111
Bonding With Step-Children
Date: 23/02/07, updated on 28/08/11 (1403 review reads)
Advantages: Instant family
Disadvantages: not many!
I first met my step children when they were aged eight and five and we have been together as a family for ten years! Throughout that time, as with all families, there have been both highs and lows, but generally for me, the experience of being a step parent has been very positive.
When their Dad and I first started seeing each other they were very excited that Daddy had got a girlfriend and wanted to do everything with me. I think that when they realised that I was becoming a permanent fixture that insecurites started to set in and that was the most testing time! They became quite possessive of their Dad and wanted to do things exclusively with him. However, that was a phase though, and things generally settled down as we adapted to becoming an instant family. So what would my advice be to anyone about to become a step parent...
1. Be prepared to share your partner!
I guess it's the same when you have your own children, but even more so with step children. They really need to have time with their dad and not to feel that because there's someone new in their lives that they can't do the things that they have always done. Having said this though, it's also important that you and your partner do have quality time on your own too! As my step children do not live with us all the time, I feel that when they are with us, we have to put their needs first. Sometimes you might even feel a bit excluded but then you remember who is the adult and who is the child and that puts it into proportion!
2. Take time to get to know your step children but don't expect instant love!
I think I was quite lucky because my step children did take to me straight away. This is not always the case though, and you cannot force an instant relationship. I never expected anything from my step children. I was always there for them and gave them all the love that I would give my own children but never expected the same from them. This made all the hugs and cuddles I do receive even more precious because I feel that they have come from them and in some ways I have earned them! Also i feel that I can be a good friend to them, and sometimes it is easier for them to confide in me because I am not their parent!
3. Always involve your step children in your plans!
I guess there have been two major events my step children have had to deal with - first was our wedding and secondly was the births of their two little sisters. With the wedding, we made sure that the children were the first that we told. They had their say on the sort of things they would like at the wedding and came with us when we booked the hotel. My step daughter was my chief bridesmaid and my step son was his Dad's deputy best man! (He felt, at eight, he was too old to be a page boy!) I do think we successfully involved them in the wedding plans as much as we could, and also ensured that in the run up to the wedding and afterwards, their own lives did not get disrupted. So much so, that on my first day as a married woman where was I? Only attending my step son's school sports day!!
Again, when I discovered I was pregnant we told my step children first and they were very excited! We even took them when we went for scans so they could be part of everything was happening. And when both girls were born, my husband picked the children up from school so they could be the first to see and hold the baby!
I do sometimes feel now that my husband, with children ranging in age from eighteen to two, is really stretched all ways. He does a wonderful job making sure that he has time for all his children, and a little left over for me too!
4. Be prepared to always have their mum in your life!
Obviously with most step children there is a mum (and ex wife) who is obviously a major figure in theirs and your life! The main rule is that you have to accept this presence, and never let it be known that you might disagree with what she says. This can be quite difficult sometimes, especially if your views on parenting are quite different! You have to value the relationship the children have with their mum or dad, and never make them feel that they can't talk about them! Also, you don't want them to play off one set of parents against the other so if you can work together on the big things, the better it will be.
5. Don't be afraid to upset them!
It sometimes feels like quite a precarious relationship you have with your step children. You don't automatically have that unconditional love that you have with your own children, and therefore, there might be a temptation to go a bit easy on them. I don't believe this is for the best though as all children need boundaries and accepted standards! I don't hesitate to ask my step children to tidy up after them in the same way as I would my own children, and although they might not always like it, I think they respect it!
So I hope some of my thoughts have been useful. Parenting, whether the children are your own or they are your step children, is always going to be a tricky business! There is no manual to follow to make sure you get it right, and unless you are really lucky, you will make mistakes, or wish that you had dealt with something differently! Whatever the case though, having children in your life is definitely a bonus, and you can only hope that most of your family time will be a happy time!
Summary: Take the good with the bad!
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