We changed cell phone carriers, and one of the perks was new phones with more storage. As I set up my new iPhone, I looked for fun new apps to download – and found Snapchat. My stepdaughter and I are having so much fun with the hilarious face filters! (Before any mama bears freak out – my stepdaughter is 20 years old and knows social media etiquette.) We have always been close, but now that she’s an adult and the custody order has ended, I don’t get to see her sweet face as often. She has a job, a boyfriend, and lots of friends that keep her busy…but sending the silly photos back and forth has been a fun way to stay connected between visits.
Do you struggle to connect with your stepkids sometimes? You may be new to the family and trying to find common ground, or a veteran like me, entering into a new stepmom season. The bottom line is that you want a relationship with these kiddos – so let’s look at a few practical ideas for meeting your stepkids halfway.
- Visitation journal: We were non-custodial with my stepdaughter, and (despite our best efforts) keeping in touch with her between weekend visitation was difficult. We started a journal that went back and forth between our house and her mom’s, taking turns writing to each other. Like my stepdaughter, it’s very possible that your stepson or stepdaughter feels out of touch with you mid-week too. Phrases like “wish you were here!” go a long way to helping your stepkids realize how much they mean to you.
- TV shows & movies: Find TV shows and movies that you both love to watch. My stepson and I can watch a few movie franchises over and over, having to pause and rewind because we talk through the whole thing! It drives my husband crazy, but we love to analyze different scenes and talk movie trivia.
- Favorite foods: The secret to a stepkid’s heart? His or her favorite foods! We would stock the pantry with my stepdaughter’s favorite snacks before visitation weekends. I would usually grab extra hair ties or lip gloss while I was at the store too. It made the transition time less stressful and even special – I paid attention to what she liked, and she knew it.
- “You” things: What do you love to do? As stepmoms, it’s easy to forget that we bring our own favorites to the family – and those would be a great place to start bonding with our stepkids. Do you love to cook? Teach your stepkids one of your secret recipes. Enjoy being outdoorsy? Take them for bike rides or go hiking. Share a love of pets? Try the dog park or local animal shelter to love on some furry four-legged friends.
This post is lighthearted, but I know it may find you discouraged. Are your stepkids treating you disrespectfully, or downright ignoring you? You are only human, and you could be struggling to even like them, let alone try to connect with them.
“Love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.” – 1 Peter 4:8
This is one of my favorite verses, because it all comes down to love. Our love for other people, including our stepkids, is rooted in Jesus’ love for us. It’s unbelievable, and unconditional. I am crazy about my stepkids, but it doesn’t mean that they drive me any less crazy some days. And I know I drive them nuts! But love, true Jesus-died-on-a-cross-for-me love, makes up for past and current hurts. You can start over and find common ground. You, stepmomma, could be the very glue that binds your stepfamily together. I will be praying for you!