I wrote, recently, about whether a step-parent can “step up.” In other words, is it possible for a step-parent to take the place of a biological parent? It goes without saying that establishing this sort of relationship requires thought, planning, and action.
Obviously, the children you are taking on as a step-parent need to have a chance to get to know and like you before you marry their Mum or Dad. Even so, they will undoubtedly have concerns. So what are these likely to be? They will almost certainly include the following:
- Is my Mum going to stop loving me now she’s got John?
- Are things going to be different now that Nick’s moved in?
- Will Steve walk out on us like my Dad did?
- Are Mary and my Dad going to have a new family and forget about me?
- Will they think I’m in the way?
These are hidden fears. As such, they may well create distance in relationships. Worse still, they may conjure up bad behaviour if they remain buried. We need to encourage articulation of those thoughts if we are to counter them – to spend time asking searching questions, to listen and take the answers on board. To give both verbal and physical affirmation to the children in our care.