December 2

Blended Families – Step Parenting Through the Teen Years


Teenagers are often difficult. They are opinionated know-it-alls, and deceptive. And that’s just normal teenage behavior. When you add being a blended family to the mix and actually having to stepparent these hormonal beasts, it gets tricky. But, you can survive the teen years as a step-parent with some of these pointers.

1. Understand that dealing with a broken family adds extra stresses to the life of a teenager. The more empathy you are able to give them to what they are going through, the better relationship you will have with your stepchildren throughout the teen years. So realize that there is likely going to be jealousy, some loyalty concerns, and even lots of uncertainty.

2. Make sure you are doing everything you can to make this new child in your life feel safe and secure. There has already been great upheaval in their life and now there’s this new face. You will need to take time to earn the trust of this teenager and to do that you will need to show him (or her) that you aren’t going anywhere no matter what he throws at you. And he’ll probably try a lot.

3. Don’t go into the relationship looking to be another parent. Start out being the teenager’s friend. Teenagers don’t take to authority as it is, and as a new person they are not going to take too kindly to it from you. So don’t go in trying to parent. Leave the heavy lifting to your spouse. You don’t need to be going and getting into a power struggle with an ornery teenager.

4. Take it slow. You can’t expect there to be an instant connection. Just because you love this teenager’s parent and they love you, doesn’t mean this child is going to feel the same way. Remember, there’s going to be that whole jealousy factor, loyalty concerns, and plenty of uncertainty about you and if you’re right for the family.

5. Don’t make anything mandatory. Put yourself out there, but don’t force bonding time. Sometimes you have to just let a teen come to you. If you do pick a bonding activity, make sure you are doing something they are interested in. Find out who their favorite band is and see if you can get concert tickets for you and him to do just the two of you.

6. Don’t be too in your face. Even if you’re very touchy-feely, this can be a huge turn-off to a teenager – especially one who’s still trying to feel you out. If he offers you a hug, don’t refuse, but you probably shouldn’t be the one to initiate it.

7. Sit down with your spouse and define your role. Make sure it’s clear that it wouldn’t be a good idea for you to step in as the disciplinarian at this stage in a teenager’s life. Stress that you want to get to know and love their child, but you can’t do that if you’re stuck in constant power struggles.

All in all, the best approach is a more hands-off approach. Let the teenager come to you. Pushing it too hard will make him run screaming from you. If you let it happen, then you should be able to gain the trust of this moody teenager and be able to enjoy him on a level that perhaps his biological parents don’t have the luxury of enjoying.


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