The relationship between a step child and a step parent can be a prickly one, especially one between a step mother and child (I blame the fairy tales). I was really concerned in the beginning stages of my relationship leading up to when I would meet my Love’s daughter, because I was unsure of my role in her life. I had never dated someone with a child before and felt extremely intimidated and overwhelmed. I spoke to him about how I felt and he told me “I have no expectations of you. You are the adult and you set the tone for the type of relationship you want to have.” This was so true; when I met his daughter I was nervous and excited at the same time. I really took his words to heart; if I suddenly came into her life and her home and started bossing her around she would resent me and my relationship with her father would be difficult to maintain, but if I showed interest in her and took my time to forge a relationship we could become something very special.
She was very clingy towards her father in the beginning. It was understandable, because she was concerned that she would be pushed to the side and I would get all the attention and that her father wouldn’t love her anymore. It was my role to gain her trust and show her that her father would always love her and that I would love her too. It was important to me to be sensitive to her feelings and give her time with her father. I knew that our relationship wouldn’t become great overnight- I had to put in the work to get it to where I wanted it to be.
I started small by getting to know her interests. Who her favourite Disney Princess is, who her friends are, what her favourite food is, etc. I asked lots of questions and really listened to what she was saying. I told her about myself too. Where I work, what I like, what my favourite colour is.
We went on lots of ‘dates’ without her Dad. This was essential to building our relationship. We went to the park and the cinema together. We laughed and talked and played. I took her on her first coffee shop date. We had a huge slice of chocolate cake, she had her first decaf coffee. She enjoyed it so much, because she felt like a grown up.
Be supportive of their achievements at school or elsewhere. She was really interested in ballet and I attended her open practices and school concerts. I would help her with homework from time to time. This helped to give her the sense that I was on her side and I wanted her to succeed in all activities in her life.
Lean on their parent for support. Her father provided plenty of guidance during this prickly period. He knew his child and he gave the best tailor made advice so that I could improve my relationship with his daughter. By keeping the channels of communication open he made a great go-between for us. If I had a concern he could speak to me about it and vice versa. He really wanted us to work and have a harmonious relationship. By working on a relationship with his daughter our relationship was strengthened, because he could see that I was trying. I didn’t get everything right the first time so his support and understanding was crucial.
Have fun. I tried to be less of a parent and more of a friend and it really paid off. I left the discipline aspect to her father (at least in the early stages); I tried to have as much fun as I could. We have lots of pillow fights and tickle contests, we build puzzles together and play board games.
Don’t give up on the first try. It took a long time to get my relationship with her the way it is now. There are lots of hurdles, but be patient. I promise it will all be worth it in the end.
Which activities do you do with your step child to create a bond? Please feel free to comment on this post.
I hope this helps improve your relationship with your step child. Thanks for reading.