I am one of those weird people who was always excited more about creating business than a relationship. I was totally fine being alone. I didn’t want to get married and have kids ever, so it was quite funny to me that when I met my amazing partner, Brendon, and we began a relationship, all of a sudden I had a man, a kid and a dog! One of the things I know about the tools that I use in business, is that long before I used them in business or with money, I used them in other areas my life and they worked. And I realised that being a ‘step-parent’, it was no different. With people as with business, you have to constantly be in the question, you can’t come to conclusions, you can’t be vested in the outcome, you can’t control it (or them), and if you try you will destroy what is possible. You have to be curious and you have to be willing for things to continuously change. You have to look at things from the context of the bigger picture. And you have to be willing to play! Here are some of the essential tips and advice I have for any step-parent who desire to create a relationship with their step-kids that actually is joyful and fun, and contributes to the lives of everyone involved: 1. Don’t’ define your role in their lives – don’t’ try to be a mum / dad, or what you think a step-dad /mum should be. Ask the kid. What do you require from me? What would like me to be for you? What can I contribute to you? I will be whatever my step-son wants and requires me to be. And if he requires something I can’t deliver, I ask how can I assist him in getting what he needs? 2. Allow your partner to make their child or children their first priority. It’s not actually about making the kids more or less important than you. It’s not a hierarchy. It’s really about being aware and honouring of what is required for each person to make it work for everyone. Ask “What is going to create the most here?” Do they need time just with their Dad or their Mum? Do you need time together for all of you? It’s not about giving form and structure to how that looks either, it’s about being totally present with what’s required in the moment, and not taking it personally whatever shows up. 3. Have allowance for your step kid. This means not judging their choices. Allowance is not about letting them walk all over you. Be clear on what does and doesn’t work for you. Allowance means being honouring of you as well. Recently my step-son was glaring at me across the dinner table, and I returned it, except 10 times worse to the point where he did a double take. I didn’t do it from the judgment of that he was wrong. I just said “here’s the deal, if you are going to give me death stares, I am going to give it back to you 10 times worse. Is that what you desire to create? What if you would treat others the way you would like to be treated?” 4. The greatest gift you can give your step-kids is choice. You can invite your step kid to create their own future. Invite them to look at the different choices they have available and what those choices will create. If you see them choosing something that is not necessarily a great choice, what if you could give them information and ask them what would you like to choose? What would you like your future to be? What will create the most? Invite your step-kid to be the lead in their own lives, rather than control anything or tell them what they have to do (which we all know never really works anyway!) 5. Are you willing to receive the contribution that your step-kids can be to your life, too? What can you receive from them that you hadn’t considered? I remember there was this one moment when we were all living together, I went for a walk on the beach and came home crying and saying “I don’t know if I can do this, I didn’t sign up for a 5 year old!” Brendon said “well, I kind of come with a kid. We can always move out, we don’t have to break up, it would just be different.” Brendon was working away a lot at the time, and my step-son was staying with his Grandma. She brought him over one afternoon, and he ran up to me with this joy and delight, and spent the afternoon being near me and giving me hugs. Later when he was outside playing, he fell over and scraped his knee and came up to me, crying and asking me to help him with his injury. I realised that he was contributing an energy to my life that was something I enjoyed, could receive the gift of, and had no desire to reject.