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Dealing With Step Families

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 24 Jul 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Stepfamilies stepparents stepsiblings

Stepfamilies are a fact of life in our society, but that doesn't mean that everyone likes them. In fact, most teens are uncomfortable in their first few weeks, months and even years of living as part of a stepfamily. And it's no wonder - suddenly you have to live with new people, adjust to new routines, get used to new tastes and opinions, and all the while try to remain true to yourself and your birth family as well. If you are having a hard time dealing with a stepfamily, these tips just might help you settle in and settle down.

Know Your Terms - Literally

Stepfamilies come about when a parent loses a partner through death or divorce and decides to remarry (or move in with) a new partner and even his/her children. Consider that if your mum marries a new man, he will be your stepfather and his children will be your stepsiblings. If you dad then remarries a new woman, she will become your stepmother and her children also your stepsiblings. Can you see how stepfamilies sometimes become large and complicated?

Know Your Terms - Figuratively

It is an understandable worry that as your family gets larger and more complicated it will lose some of what made it unique. Even more understandable is the worry that somewhere in this large, complicated stepfamily YOU will get lost in the shuffle. To make sure this doesn't happen, sit down and think about what defines you and your family. You'll be surprised by how easily these traits can accommodate new members, if you want them to.

Treat Your Friends like Family, And Your Family like Friends

You might argue that your stepfamily is neither made up of friends nor family, but given time they will start to feel like both. The point here is that before you can become comfortable with your stepfamily, you need to give them a chance, and to treat them with respect during this time. One way to help calm your nerves is to remember that your mum or dad has found a new partner that (s)he likes enough to let into your lives. Would (s)he do this if (s)he honestly thought it would hurt you?

Leave the Adult Stuff to the Adults

Sometimes the hardest part of dealing with stepfamilies is learning the new rules and positions in your household. How will the money be spent? Who will discipline the kids? Who is going to cook and clean? These are all issues best left up to the adults of the house. If you are uncomfortable broaching these topics with your stepfamily, then stick with your own parent for the time being. Take your lead from how your mum or dad acts, and talk to them about any problems you foresee. As you live together with your stepfamily, you'll probably become more comfortable with them naturally anyway.

Move at Your Own Pace

It may be that your younger sister takes a shine to your new stepfamily right away, but that doesn't mean that you will, or even that you should. Move at your own pace when it comes to dealing with stepfamilies so that you don't have to jump outside of all of your comfort zones all at once. Even if you move at a snail's pace towards adjusting to your stepfamily that's fine, as long as you are giving it a chance and accepting changes as you go along.

Dealing with stepfamilies can be a frustrating, tiring and worrisome business. Give yourself permission to have doubts, but also ask yourself to accept that changes are inevitable and it will take a while before you feel comfortable again. Don't be afraid to admit your fears, but make sure that you celebrate your milestones and successes as well.

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