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The Rules of (Dis)engagement
You’ve tried so hard to forge a good relationship with your new stepchildren. You go out of your way to do nice things for them, like making their lunch and throwing in some homemade cookies. But all your efforts are met with indifference, or worse, icy coldness.
At one point do you give up and just surrender the visions of a happy stepfamily you once held?
The term for this kind of throwing in the towel is “disengaging” and there’s much debate on each side of the issue. Most stepparents would agree that disengaging is more harmful than helpful. Stepmother Julie Crowley shares the story of how she pushed through the difficult times and fought against disengaging to come to the other side–a good relationship with her stepson.
Other stepparents have felt a great sense of relief through disengaging. They allowed themselves to stop feeling bad about a situation which they considered beyond their control. Stepchildren often became more like housemates, and less pressure was placed on anybody to forge a bond.
To disengage or preservere. It’s a difficult choice, and whether the stepchildren live with you or not is a big consideration. Remember that bonding does take time, and be sure to enlist your new spouse for help and support with the children.
What kind of struggles have you had in bonding with your stepchildren? Have you considered disengaging? What has worked for you?