How to be a Step Parent for a Teen


One of the most difficult, but nowadays most common, hid lemmas, is how to cope with the introduction of a step parent, and often their own children, to yours. You may think that any fatherless or motherless child would welcome a new parent. Think again! However much more comfortable you think it will be to have a ‘proper’ family again, and however kind or loving the new parent and their family, step relationships are almost invariably troublesome, at least at first. You may have got over the loss of your former partner, but children can very rarely shrug off the loss of a parent. While spouses can be replaced, mothers and fathers cannot. The presence of this new adult can be seen as an insult to the lost parent. You can’t have loved them as much as you pretended if you are this willing to turn your back on their memory. It is also an insult to the young person concerned – since you are rejecting the memory of their father or mother, might you also be willing to put them aside in due course?

Children in a one-parent family have one advantage in that they have the undivided attention of the remaining parent, and they often pride themselves on the responsibility they are given and the support they give. A new parent removes this exclusive relationship. A new family also gives them rivals who invade their territory, or upon whom they are imposed. Both sides will wind up feeling as if they have been made second best, and the other children given special privileges.

Step Parent

Step families give children unique problems, whatever their age, but teenagers often find it hardest to cope. Just at the time when they are learning to be independent of their family and beginning the long, hard task of breaking away, their secure foundation is shaken. You can only step out on your own successfully if you are sure that what you are leaving is safe -safe in your absence, and safe for your return. When teenagers spread their wings, it is not with the intention of flying off and never coming back. The process is full of little ‘training flights’, in which they launch out, and just as quickly return, to ask for your approval and comments.

If the family they are breaking away from is in upheaval, leaving becomes fraught. They become terrified of doing anything to upset what appears to be a precarious balance, in case a push from them brings the whole thing down. Such teenagers become our idea of ‘good’ teenagers – quiet, unassuming and obedient. Or, looked at another way, clinging and incomplete, for how can they ever learn to be independent adults if they are too afraid to start now? Alternatively, they may go into a frenzy of rebellious activity, in an effort to see whether the past break-up or death was their fault, and they can make it happen again. The first group, the godless\ may never completely establish their own separate identities. The latter may start far too early and make their break, either in spirit or in body, before they have even finished growing up.

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About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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