1. Don't expect too much too soon: This is due to everyone in the relationship coming into a new situation and many of them going through loss and grief. Take the time to get to know them and develop relationships naturally.
2. Don't become a disciplinarian to your step-child too soon: This can always get messy when clear relationships have not formed and boundaries may not have been discussed. Ease into the parenting part of the relationship.
3. Be Consistent: This goes for any child but mainly a step-child. Everything in their life has been thrown off balance and nothing is consistent and every child (no matter the age) needs consistency. There is a great scripture for this "Let your yes be yes and your no be no"
4. Create the same plan for everyone: If there are step-children and biological children, make sure to create the same plan for everyone. Example: if children under 15 have a bedtime of 9:00; so shall EVERY child under 15 not just the step-children.
5. Make Consequences and rewards: Parents seem to have an easy time making consequences like You don't do your homework, you don't get on the computer. However, rewards seem to be the part people miss. How about if you get your homework done by dinner; you can have 30 minutes more computer time. This works so much better than consequences for getting things and yet both are necessary.
6. Make new rituals and traditions: It is absolutely crucial to form new traditions for the new family. For example; making Sunday after church a time to have brunch together makes everyone feel a sense of togetherness and builds that simple little idea of consistency in children's lives.
7. If you are an adult, BE an adult: Even though it is not your child, it is still a child and you are an adult. Even if your step-child tells lies about you, screams in your face, and calls you names...you are still able to conduct yourself as an adult and treat the child with love. There is never a good reason to be childish when you are an adult dealing with a child.
8. Be honest about feelings: Don't say you love them if you don't and do say you love them if you do. Don't expect grand gestures of feeling or gratitude...just feel and be honest for the sake of telling them. Expect nothing back and you will be pleasantly surprised.
9. Allow them to call you what they want (within reason): Obviously profanity would not be appropriate but if they aren't comfortable calling you mom or dad, don't be upset. Allow them to call you whatever is comfortable because remember, there is guilt for replacing a parent. Give them the freedom to grow the name with the relationship. I have a friend who LOVES his step mom so much and yet still calls her by her name to give respect to his own mother. I support this!
10. NEVER NEVER NEVER talk badly about their other parent: Do not refer to their biological mother as "the wicked witch" or anything derogatory. It is necessary for them to see you respect for them in being cordial about their other parent. You can call her the wicked witch in your mind if you wish! :)
I hope these tips have helped you and good luck this week in your endeavors to connect with your family!