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How to Develop a Relationship with Your Stepkids

How Not To Do It

After a night of Las Vegas debauchery a man groggily wakes up to find a scantily dressed woman next to him in bed. On the night stand, he sees what appears to be wedding photo from one of the strip’s wedding chapels. Hastily putting on his glasses he covers his mouth in shock as he realizes he’s the one in the picture.

Although the woman’s face is partially covered, he notices the cheap modest wedding ring on her finger. He spots an open purse behind the picture. He rummages through her handbag and he finds her wallet. He looks at her driver’s license and sees her first name is Christina – he already knows what her last name is.

And before he closes her bag he finds a wide-ruled paper written in crayon beginning with Dear Mommy. The now sober man realizes not only is he a new husband, but he is also a stepdad.


How To Do It

When a couple dates, they make a connection and fall in love before deciding to get married. In the same way if there’s a child involved and your relationship is heading toward the altar you should begin courting your future stepchild with the purpose of establishing a connection and developing a relationship before proposing marriage.

Developing a relationship with a potential stepchild is much easier and less stressful for all concerned when a partner is still considered to be a parent’s boyfriend or girlfriend than it is when you become a stepparent. If you already have children your partner needs to understand and be able to embrace the fact, you come as a package deal.

Don’t Be Santa

Image source: Getty Images®‎
Image source: Getty Images®‎
A common mistake made by many stepparents-to-be is to shower their fiancé’s children with gifts in an attempt to buy their affections. The first issue is kids know when someone is trying to buy their love. They’re savvy enough to not fall for the bait.

The second issue is the child might start to expect gifts from you all the time and unless you’re Daddy Warbucks this will eventually put a strain on your finances. Or even worse you contribute to the creation of a spoiled brat that expects to receive everything they want.

In the end, you run the risk of not achieving your desired results and your stepchild-to-be might become resentful for your attempt to bribe them for their love. The affection and trust of a stepchild come with taking the time and effort to develop a real relationship with them – not from trying to push it onto them.

Take an Interest in Your Child

One of the best ways to connect with a new stepchild is to take an interest in what interests them. If a child is not open about what they like, a talk with the biological parent might provide a starting point. If a stepchild is interested in animals, a trip to the zoo might provide a nice opportunity for bonding.

Older children can be more difficult to pin down and there are fewer opportunities to bond with them. Offering to help with homework or taking interest in their favorite video game may not be the strongest of beginnings to a relationship, but it is a beginning.

Involve the Child in Your Interests

While you’re taking interest in your future stepchild’s interests, you can also involve your stepchild in your interests. A child already knows their biological parents and has had plenty of opportunities to get involved with them and their interests. One of the easiest ways to let a new stepchild into the life of their new or potential stepparent is to let them get involved in their interests.

For example, if the stepmom-to-be is part of a bowling league, the kids may not mind going down to the bowling alley and get to watch or even take part in the game. At the same time, it’s important to make sure the stepchild gets to spend time with their biological parent. This is especially true for children in a shared custody situation.

They only get a limited amount of time to spend with each of their biological parents and in order to maintain a stable relationship with them; you should help make sure your stepchild maintains a healthy relationship with their biological mother and father.

Take Your Time

The most important gift you can give your new stepchild is to give them time. Remember your stepchild is grieving the loss of their nuclear family. It will take time for them to get used to the fact their biological parents are no longer living in the same home.

It may take even more time for them to accept one or both of their parents have found someone else to fall in love with. It will take at least a couple years before a stepparent can actually build what could be considered a strong relationship with their stepchildren. This can be made easier if the future stepparent begins to connect with the child before the wedding.

Do Not Cohabit if Children are Involved

Children require and should have parents who are committed to staying together over the long-term. Cohabitating parents break up at a much higher rate than married parents. The effects of a breakup can be devastating and often long-lasting.

Also, children living in cohabitating unions are at higher risk of sexual abuse and physical violence, including deadly violence, than are children living with married parents. Cohabitation has been called by the biggest threat to American children. Learn why at, http://supportforstepdads.com/2012/09/biggest-threat-american-children/.

Gerardo Campbell

Gerardo Campbell is a Nebraska native who now calls Silicon Valley, California home. In 1995, Gerardo married his wife Roberta aka the Pretty Lady and became the stepdad to her two children. In 2011, he started the website Support for Stepfathers in an effort to reverse the nearly 70% divorce rate for blended families in the United States. His website is to help and inspire stepfathers, aspiring stepfathers and the women who love them worldwide.
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