COLUMN 5 TOPIC: On how becoming a step parent can enhance your life and relationship
When I started dating Mike, three months afterwards I met his son in a casual and fun setting. But I really struggled with my position in his son’s life. I had never dated someone with a child before and being the sensitive and emotional person that I am, I often had difficulties truly understanding my role and how to make the best of it for all of us.
Without considering just letting things happen naturally, I drove myself batty trying to make his son feel comfortable and in turn I felt completely uncomfortable. I googled ways on how to make my situation better, but most websites online about being a step parent express “how difficult the role of a step parent is”, and “how you may never love the child as much as you love your own.” My idea of step-parenting was more about learning ways to make it work, not reading people's negative stories on forums.
Once thing I realized was that I dislike the word step-child; I prefer “my good friend”. I was once a step-child and no matter how I was treated, I never felt like I 100% belonged. The word "step-child" creates a barrier, and if you plan on having more children with this person it is important to not let the child feel like they aren’t 100%.
It took me a bit of time to get to a place of love for my stepson, but I am there now and I would like to share with you five simple tools that may also work for you. They are as follows:
1. It’s important for you and your partner to sit down and discuss what type of role you would like to have in the child’s life, and to be committed to whatever you both decide.
2. Maintain a positive and encouraging attitude toward the child.
3. Treat the child like they are part of your family, giving them as much love as they will let you give.
4. Spend time on your own with the step-child to create a special bond.
5. Using your voice, if the child says something that hurts you, let them know how it made you feel.
The truth is that having more kids in your life to love is a blessing; it isn’t something to make an issue about. Remind yourself that you are a positive influence in this child’s life and your commitment to being a part of their life will impact them and you in a positive way.