Real Brides Share: How I Won Over My Stepchildren

how i won over stepchildren

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When your new husband is a package deal, it can be a challenge to get the kids to accept you. Here is how some enterprising new brides managed that feat.

"It took time. When I started dating their father, I took an active interest in them as people. I asked about their hobbies, sports, and interests... I played badminton with my stepson. I even taught him how to hit a softball. Because I was genuine and authentic, he responded back in kind." —Gloria

"I knew it would be difficult for Sam's kids to accept their dad was remarrying. They acted out and pushed me away for months and months, but I stayed caring and friendly and let them know I could never replace their mom. Eventually they came around. The key was I knew their resistance wasn't about me but due to a dramatic, unlooked for change in their lives." —Kim

See More: Where to Seat Step-Siblings at the Wedding Ceremony

"I have two stepsons —13 and 17. First time I met them, I said, 'Hi, I'm Lisa. Wanna go ride go-carts?' After riding go-carts, we played skeeball. Neither boy had seen an adult take skeeball so seriously so they asked where I got my throwing skills. I told them I played massive skeeball when I was unemployed. Won gift certificates for free pizza and that how I ate during said period of unemployment. They didn't know grownups did such a thing so this led to them asking questions about me and how their dad and I met, etc. The youngest told me I was the coolest grown up he'd ever met." —Lisa

"I didn't want my husband's daughter to feel I was monopolizing her dad so I gave them plenty of time alone. That made her feel less threatened and helped ease the way to her accepting me more readily." —Jill

"I didn't pretend to be someone I wasn't. I admitted that since I didn't have children I was inexperienced at what they enjoyed but I was eager to learn. Having me admit flaws, that I didn't consider myself perfect, seemed to help calm their concerns." —Sheila

"When Charlie's daughter visited he and I were a united front at enforcing rules and boundaries. Sharyn needed to respect that she couldn't manipulate me." —Ellyn

"I started small. My goal was to have one good interaction with my stepson a day. Then two, then three. It's been a bit of an uphill battle but Joey is starting to realize I care about him as a person in his own right." —Babs

"At first when Bill and his kids talked about things they'd done together in the past, I felt left out. But I came to realize that the better tactic was not to feel excluded from their rich, shared history but for us to start making memories ourselves. Now we have Sunday pancakes and hot chocolate mornings to look forward to, and many laugh-filled adventures of our own to reminisce about." —Tara

Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.

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