Today as I am writing this post, I can tell you with certainty that I have a special bond with my stepchildren, Xavier and Jacob, and that I love them unconditionally. After almost 7 years together our children are not Frank’s or mine, they are ours. What is the secret you ask? Its time. But here are some tips that can help with the process. Please note that older the kids are, the harder it might be!
When I first decided to start my blog, I promised myself to be honest with you and never sugar coat anything. This is one of those times. The brutal truth is, I didn’t fall in love with my stepchildren right away. Do not get me wrong, I liked them, and I wanted what was best for them. Loving someone unconditionally takes time. Do you remember the exact date or moment you fell in love with your partner? If you think about it, it is more than likely not a specific date or time but a series of moments or consistencies that made us fall in love unconditionally. So, having a special bond with your stepchildren will also take you time. It might even take very long time.
Let’s not forget that they were not the ones who chose to get a divorce or to have a stepparent, so be kind and patient. Unlike me, Frank was able to be fair and treat the 4 boys equally almost right away. I on the other hand was not! I had an extremely hard time reading their love languages. My Biological sons, Benjamin and Nicholas, are very affectionate and love easily. They can share their feeling verbally and show how much they love by hugs. They appreciate the little things in life and show how grateful they are. On the other hand, Xavier and Jacob rarely verbalized their feelings since they were more reserved, and they showed little to none interest toward me whatsoever. Now I know and understand that kids are naturally self-centered and there was nothing wrong with that.
The first year, I tried so hard with little success. The second year I gave-up altogether. Yes, I am ashamed to even write that. Knowing that Frank was able to bond with all of them and was succeeding perfectly at it, upset me. I felt like I failed, and I could not understand why. Yet I never had any problems with kids before. I was always able to be the fun adult around the kids I knew but could not get through to Xavier and Jacob. I hate waiting, it’s my biggest flaw, but I learnt to be more patient over time.
During our second year together as a blended family, Frank had proposed on July 3rd, 2016. We made plans to get married in May 2018. It was a magical proposal, and I will write about this within another post altogether. Having that said, I knew it was time for me to get to know Xavier and Jacob more. So here are the steps I did between 2016 to 2020 to finally create this special bond with them. I was able to bond with Jacob faster then Xavier. It might be because Jacob was younger, and Xavier was already a pre-teen when I met him.
The first step is to not take it personal, it’s not about you. It’s important to remember that not so long ago they had their world rocked upside down. They did not sign up for divorced parents, two houses and they certainly have not signed up to have a stepparent or stepsiblings. As soon as I got that in my head, I was able to be more empathetic and I worried less about it. I told myself it will come when the time is right.
Find something they really love. When we love something very much, the conversation flows much easier. Caring can be shown in different ways such as action, words, touch, etc.
Xavier and Jacob’s language of love was not saying I love you or giving them hugs. I had to find something else. It might not be something I enjoyed but I showed interest and tried to learn about something they love. I do not like video games and they both are big video game fan. Therefore, at supper time I forced myself to ask what video games they were playing and what they liked about them and why. I made sure to listen and not just listen to answer. By my surprise they had small conversation with me.
It could be anything really. So, for me, cooking became my gesture to show them love. Over the years Jacob has chosen to become a vegetarian. So, I decided to show I cared by cooking different vegetarian meals for him. At first, he really did not notice or appreciate it as much as today. But I kept doing it over and over. Making and trying new recipes just for him has become one of our languages of love. I have learnt to make Tofu Lasagna that the whole family enjoys, so that way I only need to make one meal (bonus for me) those nights. We became closer and closer.
This one can be hard especially if there is a big age difference between the children. Try to find something you all have in common. It can be going skating, watching a sporting event, going to the movies, etc. You should try to make it as a routine. For example, going to a sporting event every Saturday night or every second weekend. It does not have to be every week; it can be every month. Therefore, It will end up being something everyone is looking forward to and it will also give something to talk about. In results, it will also create a bond with your stepchildren and you, but between every family members.
For us, playing board-games became a big part of our quality time. We found something each one loved and spent hours of fun during the weekends. Our family play once or twice a month. We learnt about each others’ talents and laughed about each others’ challenges. We even have favorite games. Check out our Top 2 games from the boy’s post.
That is a must. It will give you a fair chance to bond with your stepchildren. Make sure they all must follow the house rules and get a reasonable consequence for their ages if they do not. On the same note, they should also get the same amount or approximate of gifts at Birthdays and Holidays. Everyone should feel they are treated equally. It could be extremely painful for a child if they felt they did not. Therefore, they might resent you.
Research shows that it can take 2 to 7 years before a blended family is fully blended. All I can say is be patient with yourself. Nowadays, all 4 boys get a hug, and we say I love you every night before bed! There are no secrets other then time when it comes to bonding with your stepchildren. Although, I think if you mix the 5 tips above with time, you will be able to equally give them what they need. In the end, if their needs are fulfilled, it will be easier to bond with you. Time is the Secret!