Keep the age of the children in mind. It is very different to form a relationship with a teen than with a toddler. Think about the perspective of the child’s age and life experience.
Spend time getting to know a child. Talk with the child. Find out about his or her interests and identify some things you have in common. If you are dealing with more than one step-children, make sure to get to know each child individually. Show each child that you want to build a relationship specific to that child.
Don’t be afraid to connect. Some people hold back when it comes to connecting with other members of a blended family, because they are not sure the family will last. It’s natural to wonder what would happen if you start to love a step-child but are suddenly pulled apart because the relationship that brought you together ends. Remember, becoming an important person in a child’s life can have a very positive impact on the child no matter what happens in other relationships and in situations around you that are beyond your control.
It takes time for any new relationship to find its rhythm and for bonds to form. The step-grandparent and step-grandchild relationship is no different. The connection is based on non-blood related relationships that bring older and younger generations together. You may become a step-grandparent when a family blends because your child marries someone who already has children or because you marry someone who has grandchildren.
The step-grandparent and step-grandchild relationship can become one that is as close as a blood bond or it may remain a more distant relationship. If you hope to foster a meaningful relationship with step-grandchildren, it may take some effort and patience on your part to get beyond what can sometimes be somewhat awkward beginnings. Of course, every situation is unique.Here are suggestions from folks who have become step-grandparents themselves.
Let the child decide what to call you. Some step-grandchildren may feel like outsider if they have to call a step-grandparent by something other than whatever name is used by the person’s biological grandchildren. Others may feel uncomfortable calling a step-grandparent by common names like grandma or grandparent and might prefer to come up with something else. Give step-grandchildren the freedom and control to make the decision on their own.
Be sensitive when it comes to showing affection. Some young children may be quick to throw their arms around you and jump on your lap, while others are far more reserved about displays of affection. No child should ever feel forced into sharing hugs or kisses. If you have a loving relationship and think the child may be open to a hug or kiss, always ask before doing so… especially the first time. It can be best to only voice your love and affection at the start of the relationship and wait for the child to offer or initiate the first hug.
Be involved. Take part in the significant activities in the child’s life. Attend school plays and performances, sporting events, dance recitals, graduations, etc. Send birthday cards, acknowledge the child’s milestones, and celebrate his or her achievements.
Don’t rush anything. Be patient about building bonds. It will not happen overnight. Give yourself time and don’t put pressure on yourself or the child. Put in effort to build a relationship, but don’t overdo it. Let things evolve at a natural pace.