When you become the parent to a child that is not biologically yours, it can restrict the things that you do and say to that child even if you are doing it with their best interest in mind. Knowing how to raise a stepchild isn't something that can be learned overnight, but there are some helpful hints that can make the transition easier.
Allow the child to adjust to you in their own time. One of the most damaging things you can do to a new relationship is forcing a stepchild to call you "Mom" or "Dad" before they're ready. Children have their own feelings to deal with, allow them to develop a bond with you naturally.
Be the parent, but be friendly. You need to accept that you are not this child's biological parent, even though you may have parent-like feelings for them. This is actually good news because it shows you have affection for the child. This will help you maintain patience in trying moments. Your approach to the stepchild should be friendly, which will help him or her feel comfortable around you.
Build a bond by sharing common activities. One of the best things you can do as a stepparent is participate in activities that the child enjoys. Take responsibility for picking them up from or dropping them to their favorite events and activities. This will give you time to create a bond with the child.
Allow the stepchild to make their own decisions. Every child wants to know that they can be respected for making their own decisions. It's important that you show your stepchild this same kind of respect. Give advice, but be supportive of whatever decision they make.
Always remember to be fair. This is especially true if you have both a biological child and a stepchild. It's important that you always treat your child and your stepchild equally in every aspect. If there is an age gap then you will need to lean on your spouse for support.
Respect the biological parent of your stepchild. There are a wide variety of roles that ex's can play in their child's life. Some may be distant while others may want to be more hands-on. Whatever the relationship, it's important that you respect your stepchild by respecting their biological parent.
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