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Show Shares Advice to Listener Trying To Connect With Step Daughter

A listener wrote in the mailbag that he needed advice on how to best connect with his stepdaughter.  

Ever since he married his wife, he’s been trying to build a real connection with his 8 years old stepdaughter. Her real father has been out of the picture since she was a baby, and he wants to step up and fill those shoes. He attends her games, helps her with homework, plans fun weekend trips with her but no matter what he does, she keeps him at arm's length. He understands he’s not her biological dad but he’s here for her now and wants to know how he can break through to her and strengthen their bond.  

Bobby Bones related to this question because he has the experience of being a step-kid. He shared that he thinks she is keeping him at arm's length because since her real dad left, she thinks he will leave too so she’s protecting herself and it’s not that she doesn’t like him. His greatest piece of advice was consistency. That is the only way to break through with someone in a way that does not feel like it’s forced.  

Bones stepfather, Arkansas Keith, had that approach with him. Bones was so angry with his biological dad that he was never going to call someone dad again. But his stepfather stayed consistent with him, would come home from work every day and would show up to his games when he could and over time Bones accepted him and they still have a relationship to this day.  

Amy related to this too because of her adopted children. For the last six years she’s been consistent with them and the other day she felt like it’s finally feeling normal with her kids. For years she thought they hated her and would see her treat other people in a loving and kind way but always kept their parents at arm’s length, but they consistently showed up and their kids opened up.  

Eddie also adopted five years ago and for a long time he was looking for progress with his son and wanted to know when he was going to call him dad and tell him he loved him. Then he realized you don’t need to look for progress or a change in the way they act, because they may not show it, but something is changing inside of them. The only way he found out was when his wife told him that he said he loves that his dad is always at his practices. He may never tell Eddie that, but he knows inside he is making a difference.  

Another piece of advice they shared was that they may test you to see if you truly love them and are willing to stay. They may act out to give you a reason not to be there, but when you continue to be there for them through that, that’s when the acceptance clicks. Overall, their best advice was to not force the connection and just do everything you possibly could and consistently show up for her. If you want others to trust and believe in you, you need to be consistent.