Take it slowly – Step parents sometimes try to rush the bonding process with their step child. Coming on too strong and/or too fast can have the opposite affect of what you had hoped for. All relationships take time to grow. Allow your stepchild the space and time to feel more comfortable with you. Patience with this usually pays off in the end.
You aren’t a replacement – Children often see their new step parents as intruders. Feeling that the person is trying to replace the missing mom or dad. It is very important that you present yourself in a way that lets them know you are not trying to be their biological parent, or take that parent’s place. There are invisible boundaries that you need to observe.
Do not speak badly of their parent – While this sounds like good old common sense and seems easy enough, you may be surprised at how often it happens. Whether you are outright insulting the other parent or unintentionally said something in a negative way, the damage is done. Children, generally, are extremely loyal to their parents. If they feel someone has “attacked” one of them they often react with hostility and anger.
Offer friendship – Biological parents are told to be parents not friends with the child. Step parents play by an entirely different set of rules. Encouraging a friendship with a step child is a good idea. Not only does this remove you from the role of “interloper” it will provide them with an acceptable designation of where you fit in, in their minds.
Be welcoming – Make it very clear that your step child is welcome in the home and the life you share with their parent. Step children can feel as if a parent’s new partner does not want them around. Sometimes the child will be jealous or resentful that you are there, believing that it intrudes on their time with the parent.
United front – Perhaps one of the most important aspects, is to make every attempt to be on the same page as your spouse, concerning the child. Having your spouse back you on house rules or tolerated behavior will curtail the number of arguments that you may have with the child.
With a little effort, a peaceful relationship between a step parent and child is possible.