I talk to stepparents all the time who blame themselves for a poor relationship with their stepchild. “If only I had more patience with my stepchild, if only I had more time to spend with him, if only, if only, if only.”
The truth is, it probably wouldn’t matter if you were the perfect stepparent. You might still have a disjointed relationship with your stepchild.
Because there are so many other variables that help determine what kind of relationship you and your stepchild will have.
That doesn’t take you off the hook. It’s important that you continue to work toward a loving, meaningful relationship with your stepchild. But it also helps to recognize that you don’t control the whole picture.
Your stepchild has other people and circumstances that influence his or her relationship with you. Here are the most common ones:
- If the biological parent in the other home is discouraging a relationship with you as the stepparent.
- If your spouse isn’t supporting you in your stepparenting role.
- If your spouse is a passive parent and as a result, you step into the parental role too soon.
- If your stepchild has lost their biological parent to death, there are likely ghosts in the closet that affect your relationship.
- If the biological parent in the other home is dysfunctional, your stepchild feels pulled toward that parent.
- If you married while your stepchildren were in their teen years, they’re more interested in seeking independence than bonding with new family members.
- If you had a short dating period with your partner, it’s likely your stepchildren didn’t have enough time to process their feelings of loss, which will impact your relationship with them.
Down the Road
After we had been married several years, my two girls had bonded well with my husband and began calling him Dad. I was jealous of their relationship. It looked different than the one I had with my stepchildren. Convinced I was doing something wrong, I didn’t realize how the variables affecting my stepchildren—like a mom who discouraged a relationship with me—kept them at a distance.
We try to do everything right as a stepparent, thinking that will create the relationship we’re seeking.
The reality is, we aren’t responsible for and cannot change many of the variables that influence the relationship with our stepchild.
Time is on your side. I’m thankful today for healthy, thriving relationships with my adult stepchildren.
Chase after progress, not perfection and you’ll experience rewards down the road.
Have you seen rewards on your step journey? Share them with us!