Here’s the scoop: what this little customer needs more than anything is more of their dad (or mom if she’s your partner). They need to repair the deep tear in the fabric of their security net that was caused by the separation of their parents. Their security net is in shreds and the only thing that can make it whole again is conscious attention from both of their parents so we’ll focus on the one who is your partner.
The best customer service you can offer to your stepchild is to “enhance their dad experience”. You are the facilitator, the engineer, the behind-the-scenes director of this attention make the time they spend with dad [mom] more fun, more intentional, more nourishing than it would be if you weren’t there. You are the concierge, the very gateway to dad.
You make it possible for him to be in two places at the same time. You can go into the ladies bathrooms in all the public places so little miss doesn’t have to go to the men’s room. You keep the game going while he makes supper and you clean up while he does bedtime. You offer your place next to dad on the sofa and you hold the door open to the front seat of the car so little mister can ride shotgun (if he’s big enough, of course), and if not, you sit in back to keep him company sometimes too.
From the child’s perspective, your usefulness in their world has to do with nothing other than how you improve their contact with their dad. Now that you know that, go on and use it to your advantage! This is the secret sauce that makes a stepmom a total winner with her stepkids. You have your finger on the pulse of what the little customer really wants and how to serve his/her deepest needs. Now, go ahead and aim all your efforts at their most vulnerable spot. When you hit the bullseye, it’s a win-win situation. They get some profound healing and restored feelings of security, while you get their gratitude and affection.
This is what it means to put the kids first. It takes real maturity and strength of character to base your relationship with them on your awareness of their fundamental needs. You understand that you are the big winner of the divorce or separation that tore their dad away from them. The least you can do is show your willingness to share him unselfishly. And how do you figure dad feels when he sees you being so generous and selfless with his kids? That’s the place where you go from being his girlfriend to becoming his indispensible life partner.