I would like to start by saying thank you for this site. My wife sends me informative material all the time to help improve on my duties and responsibilities as a new stepfather. My wife and I have two amazing kids (ages 8 & 3) however, I don’t really get an opportunity to spend time with them because of my work hours. I serve in the United States Armed Forces I work from 1-10 pm or sometimes 2-11. My (work) days off are the same days that they have visits with their biological father. Question is how do I get more involved in the limited time that I have?
Thanks for the great input. The best way to get more involved is to start creating family traditions. Do weekly rituals like having a family movie night, taking nature walks together, or play days at the park… let your imagination run wild. There are endless ways to spend time together as a family –and have fun.
Being the other dad can be challenging. Even when the bio-dad is a good guy (which we always hope he is) Stepdads still need to create a sense of family in the home. The most effective way to help everyone feel like a team is to make memories together. The more the better! Of course… it’s difficult to spend time together if you don’t get to see them much.
Change the kid’s day with their father to a different day if he’s willing. If you can’t change the days the kids are home, start looking for other opportunities to bond with them. Here are some ideas:
- Take summer trips together
This is a great way to make memories, create traditions and start to bond as a family.
- Take lots of pictures as a family. Frame the good ones and put them up in your home
You’ll start to feel more like a team as you do things together. The pictures will be a reminder of fun times together.
- Attend every school function the kids are involved in
They’ll like having you there –especially if they’re on stage. Everyone loves to be celebrated.
- Volunteer to drive them places… birthday parties, school, etc.
This gives you time to talk. This on-one time will help you start to develop a rapport with them.
- Get a family portrait done
A family photo helps establish you as a team. I created a tradition of taking a Christmas picture each year with Santa hats on. Usually the picture was taken well before Christmas, so it took some planning. Any time we went on a family trip I’d have the Santa hats packed… hoping for an opportunity to get a good picture. The kids are all college age now, but we still managed to get together last Christmas to take our picture. These photos mark our journey as a family and remind us of great times together.
All these little moments together add up and help your kids see you as more than just “mom’s husband.” You start to become a family.
Time is sometimes hard to come by. Joshua Kissee M Ed. has a great chapter on making time to spend with your kids in his book Bringing Up Boys of Character. You can also find more helpful articles on Stepdadding.com. Be sure to also watch the videos in the ‘Recipes for Family Bonding’ series. They’ll inspire you. You’ve already got the most important thing you’ll need to accomplish your goal of being involved; the desire to! Keep up the good work. And thank you for your service to our country, Donte’.
Stacey James Wheeler – Founder of Stepdadding.com