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How to develop a relationship with stepchildren

15 years ago

There is one aspect of my position as SM that I find very discouraging. It is the feeling that I am a "glorified babysitter." As I've said before, I take care of my stepchildren 85% of the time. For the first 2 1/2 years we had grand discussions and would literally sit for hours just chatting. Of course, they regularly asked for things, too, but that's to be expected. They are children.

But since BM came back into the picture almost 2 years ago, my relationship with the stepkids has reduced almost completely to requests. I talk to SS11 dozens of times per day...but each time involves a request. "When are you taking me to guitar lessons today? Can I use the phone? Did you hook up the computer? What are we having for dinner? WHEN are we having dinner?" Realizing that I am the adult here, I knew that I would personally need to see to it that the lines of communication remained open. So, I ask him about his day. "What did you learn today?" "Did anything funny happen?" I get 2 to 3 word responses..."I learned stuff"...followed by a question..."Are you fixing monkey bread tonight?" I found quickly that trying to engage in conversation opened myself up to more requests. But I still try.

SD13 does this as well but is more conversational than SS11. The reason for this is that she is often around while my DS15 talks to me about things going on in his life...which leads SD to do the same. But if DS15 is not present, it is only questions, requests, "when will we do this?" "I need you to get me this...Can you do it today?"

Keep in mind that I have 2 biological sons. I know that children ask for things or to go places every day. That's what kids do. But I want to stress that when it comes to my stepchildren, our relationship is almost LIMITED to requests. I would like to see this change but am at a loss of how to deal with it. I try asking about their days...I've tried sharing stories about when I was little. I ask their opinions on certain topics...ask them what they want to do when they grow up. Their responses to me are not at all conversational. Just quick responses or "I don't know's" and then comes the requests. It feels as though their view of me is nothing more than a gopher. Can I get some more suggestions? What can I do to change this?

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