What I feel makes a great step parent is someone who is actively involved in their step children's hobbies and activities. I know a couple of step parents who just do the bare minimum because they feel they "have to." Which I do understand as well, not everyone can jump into a step parent role and love the children unconditionally. Make the attempt to show up to every soccer or basketball game, go to their school events and show them you are going to support them no matter what. I understand sometimes going to these events you might run into the other biological parent but just stay strong, be respectful and keep your eye on the prize (your step child) Do not skip out because you are afraid of possible confrontation because you are showing the child, through your actions, that the "adult" drama is more important than their stuff. So bottom line is show up, show up show up!
Another great thing that makes a great step parent is letting the children know how much you care for them. Reiterate to them on a daily basis that you either care about them or you love them. Let the relationship naturally progress into what you feel comfortable saying but at every stage of the relationship from new to old there are positive affirmations you can tell the children.
Stage 1 "You are awesome." "You are amazing." "I enjoy being around you."
Stage 2 "I care about you." "I love being around you." "I am so glad you are in my life"
Stage 3 " I love you"
These are simply examples of phases and stages. If you feel you love the children 3 months in and want them to know then by all means let them hear it!
Keeping your word! This one is huge and this lets the children know they can trust you. If you are all over the place with your promises then you are not creating a great building block to a success trusting relationship. If you tell them, " Hey we are going for ice cream when you come back from your dad's house on Sunday," then make sure you keep this promise to them. It does not really matter what the promise is, but keeping your word is huge. Especially when you are a new step parent and the children are still testing out the waters with you.
Being patient is also huge in becoming a great step parent. Sometimes as the step parent you find you lack the compassion level of letting things slip through the cracks and can become over bearing on them subconsciously. Just take a step back, you are still doing great but have more patients with the child or children. If they are not listening to you than sit the child down and have a heart to heart conversation with them letting them know how much you care for them and that you wish to make this relationship grow. The foundation of the relationship will come from you- so if you act irritated quickly they associate that behavior with your relationship but if you can remain cool, calm and collective they will associate 'that' behavior with you and begin to match it.
This might be just as important as being patient, but LET THINGS GO. Don't harp on what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow, just enjoy the children now and let it go. You might feel the children might be disrespecting you on a personal level but chances are they are just being kids.
For instance: A step parent I know was complaining about how they requested the step child to do the dishes and they did them so bad and left tons of gunk all over the dishes.
She asked my advice and felt the child was doing it out of spite because there was a lack of respect missing in the relationship. Before I gave my advice to her, I want my readers to know I grew up in a very strict but loving house hold. My mom was brutal when it came to doing chores. I remember she would take all the dishes out of the dish washer if she found gunk on just one of them. She would say, if one is still dirty, chances are the rest of them are too. Now, with that being said, in my head I was in go-go mode all the time. I did NOT want to do dishes and I always half assed it, despite having a very strict parent on my tail. My method was to get it done quickly so I can play. So just like my mom and this step parent might have assumed I was showing disrespect, simply I was just being a "kid" So my best advice for anyone who is having a hard time letting things go is to think back to their childhood and how you did similar things and acted in similar manners.
My last advice before I finish is to pick and choose fun activities to do with the children. There is nothing better as a kid than doing fun stuff. You might feel the fun activities are insufficient but they create long lasting memories and associate 'you' with doing fun enjoyable things. Now, I am not saying go out and spend $100 there are plenty of free and cheap activities.
Be there for them, love them, show up to their events, keep your promises, have patient, let things go and do fun stuff!!
"Behind a lot of GREAT KIDS is a step parent who, stepped up, stepped in and gave a shit."
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