Sunday August 31 2014

Why your stepchild is not warming up to you

By Rachel Kanyoro

A friend told me about a young woman that has refused to warm up to her stepfather. Her parents divorced when she was still young and her mother remarried. Her stepfather was a nice man and treated her very well.

However much her stepfather was a nice man, the girl never warmed up to him and gave the man hell. She was rebellious and never did what was required of her. Like in any other home, there are rules to follow which she made a point to break and was always breaking her curfew.

Well there is so much that a human being and a parent can tolerate and as you would have it, the step father has started to lose patience in the girl’s antics and has withdrawn his offer to pay for the girl’s tuition at the university.

This leaves you wondering if the girl has an agenda to sabotage her mother’s marriage that she has continuously tried to destroy any form of relationship with her stepfather.

We usually hear stories of step parents mistreating their step children but there is a situation where the step children maltreat the parents.

What might be the issue?
Sometimes stepchildren can be unruly and disrespectful as a way of expressing their emotions. Maybe because they are not free with their parents or are still figuring out how to cope in the new environment.

Others learn from peers and adults to disrespect the adults in their lives.

In case of any of such misbehaviour, there are a few tips to help.
Lay ground rules If a child is disrespectful, show him or her that they can’t get away with being rude or obnoxious to parents.

The only way to achieve the desired behaviour is to be certain you and your spouse are united in making sure that your kids treat you with respect.

According to empowering parents.com, it is important to lay out the ground rules for the stepchildren. From the start, sit down as a family and discuss what is expected of each child in the home and do it in a united form as parents.

Do not leave this task to just one parent because the children do not see you as a having a united front and can take advantage of this situation.

Teach them
Agree with your partner on how the children in the home address you.
According to Anne Kayiira, a mother of four, many times stepchildren will refuse to be respectful to the stepparent and say things like “you are not my mother or my father”.

“If you let this kind of attitude where a child refuses to acknowledge that you are the parent slip, a child is never going to respect you. Agree with your partner how the child is supposed to address the step parent,” She says.

Equal treatment
Know that it is natural to feel a stronger connection to your biological child. However in blended family as a parent, you should make sure to treat all children the same.

“Children will be watching you and the way you behave yourself. You must be a role model and do not show any form of favouritism because this leads the child to become hostile towards you,” Kayiira explains.

Don’t worry that you will lose that connection with your biological child. There may be anger, there may be disappointment, there may be separation, but that connection is there by nature.

All children need not forget that parents deserve respect and adults equally should be exemplary.

The psychologist says
Ruth Matoya, a child psychologist says one of the main reasons why children fail to warm up to their step parents is mainly because they fear rejection in case they warm up to the new parent and the parent does not return the sentiment.

“If a child has faced rejection before, it will be very difficult for them to build a relationship with the stepparent,” Matoya points out.
Matoya says in the case of the older children they may feel that the step parent is taking over the position of their biological mother or father and this may seem threatening to the child.

She says that a step parents should know their position and take time to understand the child and show them that they cannot take over the position of the biological parent.

As a step parent you should know your position as a step parent but always show support for the child. Building a relationship with your stepchild is a critical thing but there is no reason why you cannot make it work.

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