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Bonding with stepchildren takes time and thought

Whether you have primary custody of your kids or you only have weekends and occasional holidays with them, when you remarry, you'll want your children to have a good relationship with their new stepparent. Generally, this bonding begins before you and your new significant other marry.

Regardless of where you are in the relationship when your kids first start spending time with your new partner, the key is to take things slowly. Kids are smarter than we often give them credit for. They know when someone is trying too hard. They also don't like someone being "forced" on them — particularly when that person is taking their parent's time and attention away from them or they perceive that the interloper is trying to replace their mom or dad.

Keep these bonding activities short and small at first. Don't plan a big vacation where they have to be with this person for a week. New stepparents (or future stepparents) should start by inviting them along on a quick shopping errand where they can stop for ice cream. Alternatively, ask if they want to toss a ball around. As your kids warm to this new person, you can progress to longer activities, like perhaps an afternoon at Kaleideum Downtown.

One-on-one time is key to bonding. Family dinners and movie nights are great. However, stepparents and stepchildren need time together without other kids or adults around to really get to know each other.

Don't make these one-on-one times so filled with activity that there's no time to talk. Obviously, a stepparent can have deeper conversations with a teen than a pre-schooler. However, kids of all ages have things to say. It's essential that they feel heard and that you meet them on their level. Sometimes they'll share hopes, dreams and even secrets with a stepparent that they won't with their biological parents.

When you remarry, you may need to make some changes in your parenting plan to help delineate the role your new spouse will play in your children's lives. Your North Carolina family law attorney can help you seek any modifications that are necessary for your children's well-being.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "5 Ways to Bond with Your Stepchildren," accessed May 24, 2018

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