I was delighted to have been invited by Dad Info to write a series of articles around supporting Dads & Step Dads.
Here is the first of them & I’ll be publishing the rest over the next week. Please feel free to share to any Dads or Step Dads struggling.
How to support your step children when their biological father does not want contact.
One of the most common and heart-breaking topics I’m asked about is dealing with stepfamily situations where the biological fathers doesn’t see their children.
was recently working with a devastated 9-year-old whose father would go months without seeing her as he had a new girlfriend. When her Mum asked him why he didn’t return their daughter’s phone calls or texts he replied: “I don’t have anything interesting to say to her”.
The challenge in these circumstances is to remain neutral, calm and non-judgemental in front of your step child.
Privately you may be seething on their behalf but your stepchild needs you to be there for them instead, being reliable, dependable, engaged, interested and loving.
Talk to your step child acknowledging their disappointment. Help them through the feelings of not being valued enough by their biological father. Explain if their father has a drug, alcohol or mental health issue bearing in mind your child’s age and maturity. Be empathetic.
Steps for helping your step child cope with their disappointment
1. Let it out
One of the hardest things to do in a busy, frenetic world where everything is immediate and where we are all under external pressure, to move on quickly, is to allow your step child to sit with their disappointment. Don’t try to ‘rescue’ or fix it for your step child by immediately skating over their disappointment and making it better – allow them to experience their feelings and sit alongside them whilst you acknowledge their anger or pain.
Human beings are not very good at allowing the experiencing of emotions in full without trying to speed up the process. So, allow your step child to let their feelings out in a good cry or scream until they have got it out of their system and they are genuinely ready to move on and accept that their biological parent doesn’t want to see them.
2. Nurture your stepchild’s self esteem
Fill your step child’s bucket of self-esteem up so high that they are more resilient to the challenges of not seeing their biological father. Help them to value who they are, what they are good at, and why they are loved by your family for just being themselves warts and all. Teach them about unconditional love as it will help give them a wider perspective. Help your step child to notice that they are now part of family that loves them as it will help them put their disappointment and hurt into perspective.
3. Practice acceptance
This is a lifelong challenge as having a parent who rejects a child is so fundamental to their sense of who they are. Children may withdraw, become angry, aggressive and blame others as they struggle to accept what’s happened. Over time help your step child practice acceptance and that may help them suffer a little less.
4. Tell the truth
– See more at: https://dad.info/step-dads/becoming-a-step-dad/how-to-support-your-step-children-when-their-biological-father-does-not-want-contact#sthash.yKQmD5Mo.dpuf