Some statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau probably won’t surprise you. One out of two marriages end in divorce and 75 percent of those divorcees go on to remarry. More surprising perhaps, 66 percent of people who remarry a person with children will also break up.
No one ever said being a stepparent is easy. In addition to the everyday problems you might face with children you brought home from the hospital, there are other complicating factors:
- a sense of competition with a biological father,
- difficultly determining what your role should be,
- disagreements with your spouse regarding discipline and
- the financial responsibility of caring for a child who is not your own.
And that is just from your perspective. Stepchildren have their own set of issues to work through and complicated relationships to navigate, all at a time when they’re attempting to grow up.
It is impossible to predict what’s going to happen in the next year because life has a way of throwing curve balls. According to Psych Central, an online mental health and psychology network, one advantage of optimistically planning for the future is it helps cope with that unpredictability and motivates you to keep trying.
Invest Time in your Stepchild’s Interests
If your stepchild’s biological father is not interested or able to coaching his son’s baseball team or take him to the batting cages for practice, step in to fill that void. Even if your stepchild doesn’t openly thank you, you can be sure your efforts are appreciated. If your stepchild loves building rockets or to skateboard make time to participate in those activities.
You don’t have to become the child’s dad. In fact, Family TLC, a site offering tools to enhance the parent/child relationship, recommends building relationships by trying to be a loving relative rather than a parent. When a child understands you simply want to be supportive and not take anyone’s place, it’s easier for bonding to take place.
Create One-of-a-Kind Memories
As your stepchild grows and begins to look back on life, there will be opportunities to remember all the cool things you did as a family. Begin customs that are associated with your family unit, such as a trip to a different major league ballpark each season, regular trips to theater in the park or a family game night.
Find a place, such as the Wisconsin Dells, that can be just yours. While it’s natural to consider trips to the big amusement parks on both coasts, AskMen.com list the Wisconsin Dells as one of their top 10 vacation destinations for families.
Family Share, whose mission is to help strengthen families, claims that one of the best ways to create a strong bond with your stepchildren is to come up with fun traditions. They don’t have to be expensive or elaborate, and they can easily be things you look forward to as much as your stepchild does.
Hold a family movie night once a week, taking turns picking the movie. Choose one night a week to do experimental cooking, coming up with a dish that none of you has ever had before. Spend Sunday afternoons on global GPS cache hunts or bicycling through the woods. Traditions are the stuff memories are made of and ultimately enrich everyone who participates.
What are your plans to make 2014 the best ever with your stepchild?