(especially during the Holidays!)
What is your relationship like with your stepchild/children? I know it can depend on the day, if the moon and the stars are in harmony or whether hormones are raging. Am I referring to your day, your stars and your hormones? Maybe… it can also depend on your step kid’s day, their stars and their hormones!
Being a kid of any age is hard today. They have so many more obstacles to navigate in their life than we ever did. Between the pressure of keeping their grades up, sports activities, bullying, drugs, sexting and the drama of friendships, kids have a lot to deal with.
Now throw in a divorce, remarriage, new siblings, new home, schedules, missing their other bio parent, the loss of their dream of their family being together, new rules…shall I go on?
Being a step-parent is the adventure of a lifetime. What an incredible opportunity to be a positive voice in the life of a child. Kids can never have enough cheerleaders in their life. Here are some things to say to your step kids (whether you feel like it or not) to improve your relationship with them:
1. I believe in you!
Even as adults we don’t hear this very often. As an adult in your step child’s life, it’s our privilege to help them reach their potential.
2. I’m thankful when you are courteous and polite when we’re out in public.
Showing you are proud of them is huge! Be intentional and look for opportunities to say something positive about them.
3. I like the way you respect/love your mom/dad.
Support your stepkids’ relationship with their bio parents. If they know you are supportive of that relationship, they will feel less threatened by you.
4. I like it when you acknowledge my existence. (or maybe, “thanks for saying hi when I enter the room, that means a lot to me, thank you”)
Although you may feel the first statement, the second one might be a little more appropriate.
5. I enjoy hanging out with you when we ________________.
Have you ever taken your stepchild on a date? Do something in their world: ice skating, play Xbox, go shopping, shoot some hoops. They are the expert in their world, ask them about it. It will make them feel important.
6. You have a great: a sense of humor/artist eye/ singing voice (whatever they have!).
Be sincere and honest. Compliments go far with everyone! Let’s stop long enough to offer one.
7. I really appreciate it when you share your opinion with me. I like to know how you feel about things.
We need to set the tone of vulnerability with our step kids. Most step kids haven’t had a lot of history with their new step-parent. They are testing the waters to see how safe it is and may not know how much to share.
8. Have a great time at your Dads/Moms this weekend.
Always be supportive of your step child’s relationship with their bio parents. When you say something negative about their bio parents (scratching the other parent’s face,) you are scratching the face of your stepchild. This also applies to your own bio child as they go visit your exe.
9. Thanks for helping with your brothers/sisters (even if they are stepbro/sis).
This will bring a sense of family together. Look for these opportunities to support positive behavior between step-siblings.
10. Thank you for _____________________.
As adults we expect kids to respect us. I think it is just as important that we show respect to our kids. We are setting an example of how people should be treated, outside of our family.
It’s the little things that will grow your relationship with your stepchild, and it’s the little things that can hurt that relationship. Obviously, the “10 Things You Should Say To Your Stepchild” should also be said to our own bio kids. But sometimes we stumble over our words when it comes to our “non-blood” kids.
Always remember to be kind. Put your own insecurities aside and remember that most kids in a stepfamily are still angry and hurt because their original family has been decimated. No, that is no excuse for poor judgment, disrespect, and rudeness; yet these are ways a child may act out if they are still grieving the loss of their last family. When in doubt, love them where they are at.