I’ve put off writing this for years because I know the repercussions of it all. I am going to piss some people off, but at this point. I don’t care.
I read a lot of articles about blended families. I find most of them laughable. It’s either, it won’t work in any way or it will only work if you do this, this and this.
My feelings on blending families are strong, I mean, I’ve done it. It isn’t this fairy tale of a life. Not everyone knows how to accept someone else’s children as part of their own family. So here are my thoughts about step grandparents and step parents from a mother that sees the differences up close and personal.
Don’t try too hard but you need to at least TRY!
Going above and beyond and making it obvious you are trying to get the kids to like you is too obvious, kids see it and get it. They don’t want that they want someone to get to know THEM and care about them genuinely. On the flip side, you need to TRY. If you ever want kids to be comfortable as a member of your family, they need to be just that, a member of your family. Go to their sporting events, school activities, and other events….EVEN IF YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE THERE. I am going to say this again. If you are only going to a childs event because someone else is there too other than the child….YOU AREN’T THERE FOR THE KID! They see it they know it! So this means step-grandparents…don’t go just because your son or daughter is, this is the same for step aunts/uncles etc. Step parents…don’t just go because your spouse is.
Get to KNOW the kids!
If you don’t know what the kids like or dislike ASK THEM! Not their parent. Let the kids have a voice! You should know what sports they participate in, you should know what kind of things they like…if you don’t, you aren’t doing a good job! Yep! I said it. If you do not know a kid plays a sport or likes a certain thing more than anything else in the world. You, are not connected to that child in any way. I word it this way because as adults, it is OUR responsibility to reach out to the kids. So yes, it falls on you.
Be active in their lives!
Hand deliver their birthday cards if you can, don’t give them to someone else to deliver for you. Pretty impersonal really. I get if you don’t live close enough because you’re a step-grandparent or the non-custodial couple, mail it. But at least CALL them! Show them you care. If you don’t care, then again, YOU need to reevaluate. Talk to them at family dinners. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or whatever holiday it is that your family gathers for. Engage with THEM. If you are putting other members of your family (brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews) first, think about why that is. Are you really more curious what Aunt Karen has been doing than your own step-child or step grandchild is up too? Again…this is on YOU, the adult!
Treat their biological parent as if they matter!
If you don’t accept their bio parent. It won’t work. NO MATTER WHAT! Kids will always and I mean ALWAYS side with their bio parents. So if you shut out their parent, they will do the same to you.
Personally, kids are a lot smarter than what they get credit for. I have watched my children grow up learning how to solely rely on me. Not feeling truly loved by their extended family and therefore not bonding with them. It is hard to watch but as their mother I will not force my kids to be the one pushing for a relationship with anyone else. Why not? Because they are KIDS and they don’t need to do adult things just yet. Do they respect others? Yes. I have some pretty amazing children to be honest. They are charismatic, independent, and full of love. They don’t need to work for someones approval. And if they don’t get that…they know they don’t need to worry because it isn’t their loss. They thrive regardless.