Bonding with step-children is the biggest hurdle in blending a family. While blending a set of children is difficult, ultimately you can resign yourself to the fact that children sometimes don’t get along. However, the first step and biggest stumbling block in making all the children in the equation feel safe, secure and cared-for is developing a bond between step-parent and step-child, whether there are multiple sets of children or only one.
Many step-parents feel that the emphasis should be on ‘parent’, however this can be a faulty assumption. Especially if the biological parent waited a long time to introduce step-parent and step-child to each other, it is impossible to step in as a parental figure on a moment’s notice. The bond has to be forged first, before a position of authority can be assumed.
A big and common mistake step-parents make is buying the step-child or step-child-to-be toys and leaving it at that. Of course it’s nice for them to receive presents, but simply buying children items does not forge a bond; to do this you must spend time together. Perhaps your money is better spent on experiences such as Alton Towers or a simple trip to the park or a local museum. Make sure the biological parent comes along at first; this will give the child a sense of stability and certainty they will be unable to take from your company until you fully form a bond with them that allows you to take on a more authoritative role.
Tailor these trips to what the child enjoys doing, but make sure you spend plenty of time talking together so you can find common interests. Maybe there is something he, she or they have always wanted to do that you can explore together, like horse-riding or making a quilt. Tailoring the activities to the child allows them to feel you are taking a personal interest.
If you come into a situation where both parents are active in the child’s life, you may feel constrained to being on the side-lines. However, there is no law that says parental figures can only be daddies or mummies. You can be a figure of authority and a figure of fun, exerting a positive influence on your step-child’s life without becoming a secondary daddy or mummy yourself. Play it by ear, and make sure you keep the child or children’s needs in mind at all times. You’ll do fine!