If you Google ‘step-children’ one of the top three searches that comes up is ‘resent’. So why is it that so many step parents resent their step children and what can be done about it?
There are several reasons that we may not get on with stepchildren the way we do with our own biological offspring, the most obvious of which is that ‘bonding’ which is in part a hormonal response to newborns, just didn’t happen between step-parents and step-children. But there are other reasons too.
- They may be just like their mother/father (your new partner’s ex) and that person may have made your life very difficult.
- They are likely to be needy, and often manipulative, which can be hard to tolerate.
- They may not get on with your own children.
- Your parenting style is very different to that of their other parent.
It all sounds like a bit of a nightmare, doesn’t it? But relax, we have some excellent, tested solutions to help improve your time together when your step-children visit.
Don’t assign blame, assign attributes
Your step-child might be lazy, disrespectful, ignore you, tease your children – all things that are difficult to accept. But instead of dealing with these problem areas of their character, work out what they are good at and give them that as a responsibility. If he’s great at sport, set up a coaching session each time they visit, so they can help your children improve. If she’s a brilliant make-up artist, get her to give you and your nanny a makeover, and to face-paint the little kids. It’s much easier to like somebody if you can find one good thing to appreciate about them.
The great advantage of having professional childcare, is that you don’t have to engage too closely with them. Your Elite Nanny will be an expert in getting the best from children, so you can take a step back and let her handle a lot of the contact – it might even be a chance for you to go out and do something you love but rarely get a chance to do.
Deal with bad behaviour promptly
If your stepchild ‘gets away’ with something that your own children aren’t allowed to do, it creates all kinds of difficulties and disruption, so unacceptable actions need to be addressed rapidly. Where possible, get their birth parent to explain what they are getting wrong and what needs to replace the unwanted behaviour, but if they aren’t around, it’s better to have a calm conversation than to allow behaviour to continue. Of course your step-child may throw an immediate hissy fit and storm off, but it’s important to retain your dignity and not follow their example. Over time, this bad attitude is likely to diminish, so it’s vital to remember you’re playing a long game here.
Remember that it’s normal to find it hard to get along with step-children, at least at first, and if you look at it from their point of view, you will often find that they are lonely, frightened and worried you don’t like them. Maybe you don’t – but you can show them that they are welcome in your home and over time you may find that genuine affection grows between you.