It is never easy to raise another’s child! Indeed, it can be particularly challenging to try and love someone else’s child like your own. The new step-parent journey can be a potential minefield.
In addition to personal difficulties, society’s perception of step-parents makes the situation more complicated. People never doubt your intentions when dealing with your own child. They assume that what you do is best for both you and your child. However, as a new step-parent, it seems that everyone is watching and waiting for you to step out of line.
Of course you are not here to win the respect of others. But, society’s negativity may affect you, as a new parent, and your relationship with a step child. So, you must follow our advice to successfully develop a close bond with your step-child. This will mean that external factors fail to have any impact on your relationship.
Let’s explore how to love someone else’s child like your own.
It Takes Time To Love Someone Else’s Child Like Your Own
Emotions evolve over time as the relationship grows. Don’t try too hard to fill any perceived parenting gaps. Give children some time to adjust to their new reality.
Becoming a new step-parent to younger children is relatively easy if compared to building a relationship with older ones. As children mature, their habits, opinions, ideas, boundaries, relationships and behaviors become more rigid. Therefore, it is more tricky for them to provide a space to a new step parent in their lives. Give them some time.
If they are wary of you initially, that is to be expected. Try winning them over with things that you have in common. Show a genuine interest in them and what they do. Eventually, they may start to reciprocate your love.
New Step-parents Need To Set Boundaries
As a new step parent you want to win the child’s heart but you also need to set boundaries. You don’t want to be constantly spoiling a child as this won’t help them learn. Every parent must discipline their children when needed.
This means that setting boundaries is necessary even when attempting to love someone else’s child like your own. An authoritative parenting style is the best one to opt for. It characterizes high responsiveness and high demand.
Pay full attention to your child’s needs, but don’t let them escape their responsibilities. Your job is to raise them into healthy, well-rounded adults.
Consider Where They Are In Their Development
As a new step parent, you need to know where they are in their development. Children have different needs at different phases of their lives. It is necessary to lead younger children, but older children and adolescents prefer freedom and independence.
Erik Erickson proposed eight stages of psychosocial development throughout life. At every step, there is a conflict to be resolved. It is essential you know the needs and conflicts of all stages of development. For instance, adolescents often go through an identity crisis as they step into their teens.
Having information about child development can assist in your attempt to love someone else’s child like your own. Moreover, your step-child needs to develop a healthy relationship with you early in life. This relationship will serve as a foundation for his/her future relationships.
Love Someone Else’s Child Like Your Own By Using Their Language
Every person expresses their emotions differently. It is essential to understand your step child’s love language to better express your love to them.
In 1995, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book titled 5 Love Languages. This book is about learning different ways of saying ‘I love you’.
The 5 love languages Gary talked about are:
- Words of affirmations: Positive affirmations are necessary for every relationship. Your step child may like receiving compliments on and off. Try appreciating their efforts verbally.
- Quality time: Your child might want to spend quality time with you. Try participating in movie-time, going to dinner or shopping.
- Gift giving: Children are not concerned about the cost of a gift. It is a great way to express your love by giving them meaningful gifts. They don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. It can be as simple as something written or drawing expressing your love.
- Physical touch: If you want to love someone else’s child like your own, then you should never withhold physical touch. When children come to you for a hug or snuggles, embrace them! This gives them a sense of acceptance, and it is another way of saying ‘I love you’.
- Acts of service: Love in action! Act on fulfilling their needs and desires without complaining.
A New Step-parent Must Look After Themselves
As a new step-parent, it is necessary to look after yourself so that your efforts to love someone else’s child like your own do not stop.
Maintain some exercise, eat well, take some time out and do whatever makes you happy! Every parent needs down-time for mental and physical health.
Being a new step-parent can be challenging but very rewarding if you get it right. It is immensely enriching to love someone else’s child like your own.
The rewards can be mental, emotional and spiritual for you both. A child does not have to be yours to be loved. We know love does not have any boundaries, so give love and it will be reciprocated eventually.