Being a step-parent is an important role in a child's life. Understanding the impact you have on the child, as well as your relationship with both parents, is essential. Here are a few tips to consider:
1. Recognize that the child will need time to develop a relationship with you. The child needs time to get to know you and to learn how to trust you. More than likely, the child has never had a relationship with a step-parent before. Thus, this will be a new relationship for the child. Do not bombard the child with the expectation that they must express affection for you immediately. Give them time to get to know you.
2. You are not replacing the other parent. Trying to do so will create hostility within the family, which is difficult for a child to deal with. Respect the child's wishes to love all of you individually and encourage the child to have a relationship with all parents.
3. Recognize the importance of family activities as well as the importance of the child's relationship with the other parent. While it is great to have joint family activities (i.e. a birthday party for the child where all parents attend), it is also important to allow the child to spend quality time alone with each parent.
Keep in mind the above tips on being a step-parent and the importance of your relationship with not only the child, but with both parents.