I have a step daughter, Gabriella, who turned 8 at the beginning of September. We have a great relationship but woah there! She’s suddenly turned into a mini teenager. Literally over night. She’s a bit moodier, spends a bit more time on her own and boy does she love a good answer-back. She always has done but she’s really outsmarting me now! All of which requires me to take a step back and think about ways to connect with her so we don’t go into her teenage years arguing but having a good time instead.

23 ways to connect with your step daughter. My step daughter has just turned 8 and I can feel the dynamic of our relationship is changing as she grows. I have written this as a way of making sure we connect as much as we can! http://www.mumsdays.com/connect-with-your-step-daughter

The lovely Erica, Let why Lead, and her 42 ways to make your kids feel absolutely loved really got me thinking about Gabriella and my relationship. I love her but there’s no doubting that it’s different from the relationship you have with your child. It just is. And, it should be too. I’m not here to try and replace anyone, Gabby has a lovely mum!

We have her every weekend, which is fantastic and Reuben talks about her everyday from Monday until Friday – he often tells me before I’ve realised it’s even Friday, that Gabby’s coming home today! That’s one toddler who has got his routine down. But because we don’t see her all week, each weekend we (or more I) go through a little learning curve of a new dynamic to the house. A new thing on the telly, new stuff being left around the house, Reuben’s attention being elsewhere (a god send at times!!), new conversations, more bustle. I love it but it is different.

I’m not Gabby’s mum and she’s not my daughter, so while there isn’t that unconditional love you get with mother and daughter, we do love each other. My fear is that as she grows there will be a change that will result in us growing apart. You know, those weekends when she decides she’s not coming to see us…they are going to happen. So while everything is much the same as it has been for the last 5 years, I want to be present as she’s changing into a young woman and connect with her as much as I can!

Inspired by Erica, I wanted to do a post about my favourite ways to connect with Gabriella and, although I’m coming at it from a step mother’s point of view, I think it’s probably similar to what you would do to connect with any pre-teen (but replace girlie things with boy things)!

23 ways to connect with your step daughter

1. Watch a film together cuddling on the sofa, preferably with popcorn and/or ice-cream {or her favourite Youtube videos (this is like research for me – have you seen Gracie and Mommy?! They are so annoying but seriously working the Vlog thing!) or her favourite TV show without moaning (Jessie anyone? Yawn/puke)}

2. Make a cake together, or teach her to make easy things like scrambled eggs that she could then do herself (she loves responsibility!) and involve her in cooking dinner.

23 ways to connect with your step daughter. My step daughter has just turned 8 and I can feel the dynamic of our relationship is changing as she grows. I have written this as a way of making sure we connect as much as we can! http://www.mumsdays.com/connect-with-your-step-daughter

3. Chat after dinner while dad tidies up and LISTEN when she talks (properly – I get all sorts of insights when I actually put my book/phone/etc down! You’ve kissed a boy have you?!) and ask questions but don’t probe! Also listen to what she is currently interested in – It’s all about Zelfs and Monster High in this house at the moment!

 

4. Go to the Library, the cinema, or the park together, or have a coffee date. Or even go on a day trip, just the girls.

5. Give her responsibilities (her job is to set the table and organise the shoe cupboard (not a regular occurrence!) and she occasional does a bad job at washing up!) or chores (she loves a little financial incentive!)

6. Read together, we enjoy a page each

7. Make a den, dress up or generally goof around

23 ways to connect with your step daughter. My step daughter has just turned 8 and I can feel the dynamic of our relationship is changing as she grows. I have written this as a way of making sure we connect as much as we can! http://www.mumsdays.com/connect-with-your-step-daughter

8. Help with her arty ideas (like this one)

9. Be sure to kiss and hug when saying hello and good-bye and tell her I love her every day

10. Send an email during the week (she’s not got the hang of this yet but she will!) and give her a call to see how her week’s going

11. Get her a favourite new book from the Library during the week as a surprise

12. Go food shopping together – get her to write the list/read the list/go off to different aisles to find items

13. Invent a mocktail

14. Discipline her when necessary

15. Play games or teach her to play cards

16. Respect her alone time

17. LOVE BOMB (see Actually Mummy’s post for the gist – I love this!)

18. Let her look after Reuben – she’s like a mother hen and loves nothing more than getting his cereal, putting on his favourite programme, carrying him around like a toddler would a cat – it’s lovely to watch their relationship grow and by giving her little responsibilities like that, WE connect better!

19. Brush her hair (not popular but important!)

20. Do her homework with her (not popular but important!)

21. Plan the day well (Gabby likes to know what’s happening, when and with whom)

22. Praise her – sounds obvious but I hear people putting their kids down in little jokey ways all the time. Equally, never say anything mean about anyone in her life – it’s a complex business being married to someone with a step-child as there is of course the child’s mother. We have a wonderful relationship with Gabby’s mum and I like her. But even if I didn’t, I would never say anything bad about her to Gabby. Hearing something bad about your mother or father is apparently more damaging to a child then it is for them to hear something bad about themselves. Fact.

23. Embrace her dreams, encourage them and help them happen!

There are definitely more (I actually had about 45 but combined some together to get to the magic 23 number!) – things about teaching her; Teaching her to be kind, relish her female friendships, to be strong and believe in herself. But I think those are the kinds of things that should generally underline everything we do and say. Trying to be very aware of how I speak to other people, for example eye rolls or swearing are noticed by little people even in another room!! (learnt the hard way) I’m not saying I’m brilliant at all this. Far from it. But it’s something to strive for, especially on those harder days when we only seem to butt heads. It’s then that I need this list to remind myself how to move forward and re-connect with my step daughter again.

Do you have a step daughter or son? How is your relationship? And what do you do to connect with them?

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