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How to Get a Stepfather to Accept His Stepchildren

by Maria Magher

Becoming a stepfather can be challenging even under the best circumstances. Children may transfer their anger to their stepfather, blaming him for the demise of their parents' marriage or the changes in their family life. That anger and resentment can then push away their stepfather, making him feel frustrated and helpless and causing him to give up on the relationship. You can create a bridge to help your husband learn to accept your children and build a relationship with them.

Don't push him to see them as his own children. Wednesday Martin, a social anthropologist, tells The Telegraph that stepfamilies succeed when they don't attempt to be "blended families" and expect the stepparents and children to form a relationship like that of biological parents and children. Instead, Martin says everyone should accept that kids have their own feelings and may prefer their biological parents. Over time, stepfathers and their stepchildren may develop their own relationships.

Establish clear rules. Beverly Bliss, a clinical psychologist in Madison, Wisconsin, says you and your husband need to work out rules for discipline, household chores and other family expectations right from the start. Otherwise, confusion and disagreement over these issues can breed resentment between you and your husband and between him and your children.

Help him understand not to take any behavior personally. Bliss says many children act out toward their stepparents, especially when they start to have positive feelings for them. They may think that loving their stepfather means that they don't love their biological father. It is important to help your husband understand that so he doesn't take the behavior personally and become resentful.

Give it time. All relationships take time to build. It will be no different for a stepfather and his stepchildren. With all the obstacles a stepfather and his stepchildren have to overcome, it could take even longer before they develop a good relationship. Don't push a relationship, and help your husband understand that the relationship may take time so that he does not push too hard or become resentful when a relationship isn't forming.

See a family therapist. Laura Markham, of Aha! Parenting, says a family therapist can help stepfathers and their stepchildren articulate their feelings so they can move past whatever hurt or resentment is keeping them from being close and begin to build a bridge.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.

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