There is no standard definition for the make-up of a family these days, and I love it. Whether there’s a mom and dad, two moms or two dads, a single parent, a blended family in which there are his and hers step-siblings or a family like mine where there were his and then we added ours, the only thing that truly defines family is love.
If you stat from a place of love, it doesn’t matter what, then, makes up your family. And if you start from a place of love, it’s easy to find ways to keep step-siblings close even when they live with different part of their family most of the time.
Technology, of course, makes staying connected easier for all of us, but when you are truly making an effort to foster the relationship among all the kids, it may take understanding, effort, and patience.
- Don’t expect the kids to be best friends. Whether they grew up in different family cultures or simply carry some resentment about the way the family has changed, forcing step-siblings into being close won’t work. Instead, find areas where you know there is common ground, whether that’s video games or sci-fi movies, and bring the step-siblings together to enjoy those common interests and build a relationship organically.
- Don’t favor your biological child. Amid gasps of indignancy, in which we all protest that we would never, it’s important to understand that it can be more difficult that you might imagine not to favor your own biological child, especially if your stepchild is only occasionally part of your daily life. The way to deal with it is to accept that it is possible, recognize when it might happen, and adjust your behavior. Your children will pick up on your cues about how you feel about your stepchild, so if you aren’t coming from a place of love and respect, how can you expect them to?
- Foster moments of togetherness. From shared holidays to Face-Time and Facebook, give your kids and stepkids the chance to connect, communicate and bond. Encourage the connection, but don’t force it. Create opportunities for the step-siblings to connect.
Remember: blood is not the only thing that makes a family a family. Fostering bonds between step-siblings is the best way to create peace and love for the whole family.