If your fiancé has a child, your marriage will signify a union of more than just two people. Whether you have their kid’s blessing or not, you’ll soon be their stepmom, so it’s important that you try to connect with them.
Of course, successfully fulfilling the role of stepmom is easier said than done. However, these tips should help you find common ground and begin bonding.
1. Cater to Their Interests
Sixteen percent of women who recently married for the first time also entered a stepfamily. Of these women, those who didn’t already have children might have struggled to connect with their partner’s kid because they’d never been a mother before. So, if you aren’t sure how to bond with them, you aren’t alone.
Luckily, finding common ground with kids isn’t difficult. Simply listen to what their interests are. Do they go on and on about firetrucks? Learn the difference between tankers, quints and aerial fire trucks. Can they watch Peppa the Pig for hours on end? Learn all the characters’ names and surprise them with a plush toy from the show. It’s the little things that count, right?
2. Try a Solo Outing
Sometimes, all you need to connect with your partner’s child is a little one-on-one time. Give your fiancé a day off and spend a few hours playing games, watching movies and making crafts with their little one. Incorporate their interests into your time together as well.
Does dad work from home? Try a solo outing and hit up the local playground, zoo or nature preserve. Showing your soon-to-be stepchild that you’re actually a lot of fun to be around might encourage them to share their feelings more freely — whether they be positive or negative.
3. Show Them Grace
Kids can experience some intense emotions during and after a divorce and remarriage, including anger, sadness and even guilt. When they take their feelings out on you, try to remain calm and give them grace.
First, recognize these emotions as powerful and real, however irrational they might seem. Then, you can decide whether to let things blow over or have a conversation with the child. Make it clear that you won’t come between them and their biological parent, even if they form a close relationship with you.
Focusing on Friendship
Remember, it’s ok if you don’t love your partner’s child immediately. After all, you need time and space to create an attachment first. Therefore, it’s best to begin cultivating a bond of friendship early on. For now, focus on being besties. Then, as long as you try to do all of the above, everything will fall into place.