Four Tips on Becoming a Stepparent to Teens
After a difficult divorce, it can be wonderful to find a partner you love and trust and with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. You may have a great deal more wisdom borne of experience than you did when you entered your first marriage. For one thing, you may have learned the hard way that having a premarital agreement in place is critical and especially so if you have children from a prior relationship. But second marriages bring their own unique set of challenges, including those entailed in blending families when children are older. Below, find some suggestions on how to ease the transition and become a stepparent to a teen.
- Keep expectations low. You may be eager to start off on the right foot, letting your new stepchild know that you want to love and support them as you would your own child. But your teen stepchild is likely to be skeptical of or even hostile towards you at first. It can be surprising and hurtful to feel pushed away. Remember that you can’t force a relationship with anyone, especially not a teenager. Building a genuine, lasting bond will take time. It may not seem to be having an effect, but by consistently showing them love, kindness and warmth, you’ll show them that you’re someone they can trust.
- Find interests you already share. Unlike young children, teens often have strong interests and hobbies. Instead of forcing activities on stepchildren that they might not enjoy, listen and watch to see what they already enjoy learning about and doing. Foster bonding opportunities by finding subjects in which you’re also genuinely interested to share with your stepchild. Alternatively, ask them to tell you more about a subject they enjoy and about which you know little.
- Make sure you’re on the same page. Talk to your spouse about your children’s needs, and how you can best support your teenaged stepchild during the process of blending your families. Make sure you can find a way to discipline your kids that is acceptable to both spouses. Have a house-wide talk acknowledging the difficult task of blending families, but also talking about the sort of family you hope to build together. Your teen stepkids may not be with you at first, but knowing that you want to build a stable and loving family in which they’re a major part will be a source of comfort.
- Don’t take it personally. Even if they act as though they could care less, your new stepchild is going through a difficult time. Their life was turned upside down through their parents’ divorce, and a stepparent is an easy target for their frustration and sadness over this fact. While you can insist that everyone in the household is treated with respect, try to remain patient with big emotional swings.
If you have questions about what you should know before entering a second marriage in New Jersey, including those on premarital agreements or consequences for child support arrangements, contact the knowledgeable, seasoned, and effective Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation, at 908-964-0102.