How Can Stepparents Forge Happier and Stronger Relationships With Their Stepchildren?
The mom and stepfather also need to let the kids know that the couple's relationship is a good one; it's important to keep arguments in front of the kids to a minimum, Shafer noted. And finally, the stepfather and mom need to agree on how they're going to parent.
A new, special bond will most likely develop naturally over time. According to a recent poll completed by stepdads, conversation is the best way to connect with stepchildren. This is followed by activities of mutual interest such as computer games and sports. Stepparents may make progress building relationships with stepchildren by trying to be a loving relative, instead of a parent. Understand that the child may feel threatened and concerned about their place in the family. Children may worry about their relationship with your spouse, their parent Benson comments, “the thing that worked best for me and our family was that I had an outlook that framed all of my interactions.” In his experience with his stepson, Benson says, “I look at him as an individual, a family member, a loved one that I am helping raise, to mentor, to love, and a friend and a parent when appropriate.” He suggests providing a stepchild with a “sanctuary of love” at home.
Pryor and Rodgers (2001) indicate that, particularly in the early phases of a stepfamily, authoritative parenting is difficult for stepfathers to adopt and, in fact, authoritative parenting is less likely to occur in stepfamilies overall, even by biological parents. In adolescence, however, there is some suggestion that permissive step parenting is not only desired by children, but may be optimal for them (Pryor & Rodgers, 2001).
Pryor, J., & Rodgers, B. (2001). Children in changing families: Life after parental separation. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.
Daniel, B., Wassell, S., & Gilligan, R. (1999). Child development for child care and protection workers. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Cartwright, C. (2005). Stepfamily living and parent-child relationships: An exploratory investigation. Journal of Family Studies, 11, 267283.