In the case of children, particularly StepKids it’s pretty much a guarantee. Now before you start getting all shouty, let me explain!
Money buys experiences.
As much quality one to one time with the kids, without your partner that you can feasibly withstand – the better.
Force it, fake it until you make it, grit your teeth and do it!
Sit through Frozen, again. Take them to Nando’s even though you don’t like it and would rather eat your own right arm.
Turn your lovely kitchen upside down and play Great British Bake Off, then clean up the mess pretty much singlehandedly afterwards.
Go to the funfair with them, even though you’re a wimp on the big rides and ALWAYS end up carrying everyones bloody coats! They will love it, and you made it happen.
Admittedly, it’s not all about monetary experiences, essentially you’re just spoiling them with your undivided attention whenever you can. In small doses of course, we’re not infallible and they can be annoying little sprogs!
It could be something as simple as reading them a bedtime story, helping them with their homework, picking out a nice outfit for a party, listening to them talk about the rubbish day they’ve had at school, or truly taking a vested interest in their new slime. It’s fascinating how much young children love all things gross!
I’ve bought my StepKids some pretty cool experiences over the years and I openly admit to having spoiled them at times, particularly in the early days.
I was trying far too hard with the big stuff, when the focus should’ve been on the small stuff.
And to be fair they largely took it all for granted, until they were old enough to understand Charming’s never ending lectures about the value of money!
But it’s the small stuff they really remember, going to a massive gig is great, but properly listening to their school problems and helping them work out the solution, or watching them play footie in the rain, means so much more to them.
They are crying out for love and attention, particularly after a painful divorce – so give it to them in spades. The ungrateful little shits will throw it straight back in your face to start with though!
But don’t let that hurt you, be a resilient Queen of Calm. They are testing you. Are you and their parent serious about each other? Are you going to leave them as soon as they start to like you? Will you break their tiny damaged hearts all over again?
They may struggle to get close to you, or often feel as though real progress is being made, and perhaps give yourself a big pat on the back, and then just as quickly, it can feel as if it never actually happened and the kids are totally distant again! This is in part, because they feel as though they are betraying their natural parent, and being massively disloyal to them by liking you, which lets face it, is totally understandable – poor mites.
Being friendly with you throughout all the emotional turmoil, takes real courage on their part…
It also doesn’t help if the ExWife has a tendency to behave like a BatShit Crazy Banshee, taking every opportunity to scream at you in public and slag you off to just about anyone who will listen!
Kids need to develop their own judgement of you – and that’s tough, particularly when you’re actively disliked, just for being the ‘new relationship’.
But kids are savvy, they work it out for themselves in time. Keep throwing love at them anyway, keep proving yourself, over and over again and eventually they will thaw. They’ll probably still only tolerate you at this point – but the ice should start to break!
They’re also in the early days gonna think they’re playing you to get what they want, even being a *bit (*massively!) two faced about you with their biological parent. Imagine that! Cheeky monkeys…
But do you know what, you’re smarter than a child. Let them carry on. You will know they’re doing it and your partner will love you unconditionally for the effort regardless. The end result is that they will enjoy your company EVENTUALLY, and even, yes, LIKE you a little bit in return!
Our kids got there in the end and when they did they reflected on a lot, they had a better appreciation of the investment (emotional & financial!) that had been put into building a strong and loving relationship with them. However, it’s a continuing journey…
But the secret is that you’ve genuinely got to want to try with them, we might be smarter than your average 8 year old, but all kids have an amazing ability to see through disingenuous bullshit like no other creatures on earth!