Any changes within the family unit can be hard, especially if they come at such a confusing and challenging time. It’s important that when merging families together, the parents give as much time and care as possible to ensure that the children and teens are as comfortable as possible. Depending on the situation, your family might be moving into your partner’s house, you might be getting a new house together or you may have your partner’s children coming to live with you. One of the most important things to remember is that each teen is an individual person and is going to have individual feelings. Give them time to adjust to the idea, and then to the reality of moving in together.
Listen to Your Teens
Just because you’re choosing to listen to your teens, and their opinions, doesn’t mean that you have to act on them. Allow your teen to voice their opinions – good and bad – on the situation and take them into consideration where appropriate. Merging stepfamilies with teens is a big deal, especially if it involves uprooting your teens, changing their rooms and their schools. Parents always tend to keep in mind what is best for their children, but often teens are unable to see the bigger picture and act out emotionally. Sometimes teens understand that what they want isn’t practical or realistic, but they still like their opinions to be heard and respected, so at least offer them that.
Frame it in a Positive Light
Many teens can be resistant to a “step parent” entering their lives – they see it as a replacement and/or betrayal of their real parent. Make sure your teen knows that they are actually gaining someone else that cares about them; they are getting something extra rather than losing something or having it replaced. Encourage fun activities between the teen and stepparent, but never push them. It’s important that they bond but on terms that feels comfortable for both the teen and stepparent.
Be Careful With Discipline
Discipline can be one of the more challenging issues when dealing with step families with teens. If the stepparent doesn’t know where they stand in terms of discipline, things can get pretty messy. Make sure that you act as a unified team, parenting together in a bid to give your teen as much security and stability as possible. Try to avoid introducing any new drastic discipline methods, unless there are severe problems with the teens behavior. Keeping things as “normal” as humanely possible will make the transition easier for everyone.
Are you living with stepchildren or sharing your children with a partner? Do you have any advice for stepfamilies with teens?
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