Becoming a Stepparent to a Teen
Marriage means inheriting your spouse’s family. If this is your spouse’s second marriage, this may mean that you are suddenly made a stepparent of your spouse’s children from their prior relationship. Under the best circumstances, living with a teen can be challenging, but this challenge can be even greater as a stepparent. Below, find some suggestions on how to ease into life as the stepparent of a teen.
Discuss with your spouse how family life should look
In some families, a stepparent will become like a third parent, playing a prominent role in their spouse’s children’s lives. This isn’t always the case when children of a divorce are older and both parents remain engaged in their children’s lives. Instead of assuming that your spouse wants you to take on a parental role with your teenaged child, have a discussion with them where you each lay out your expectations and desires for how family life will look after your marriage.
Try not to take things personally
Being a teenager is difficult. This angst could end up getting externalized in some pretty unpleasant ways for those in the teenager’s life. Making matters worse, a divorce can cause serious upheaval and sadness in a teen’s life, even if they don’t admit how profoundly their parents’ split affected them. A stepparent can be an easy target for these frustrations. While you should insist on being treated respectfully, try not to construe this anger directed at you as a personal attack. Rather than react in kind, remain a consistently kind, positive, and compassionate presence as your stepchild goes through this difficult time.
Find organic moments to connect
Forcing moments of connection with a teenager isn’t likely to work. Teens will smell your attempts to ingratiate yourself with them from a mile away, and will high-tail it in the other direction. Rather than manufacture opportunities to bond with your new stepchild, keep your expectations for how fast you’ll forge a relationship with them lower, and focus on getting to know them. Watch to see if they have interests you naturally share, or ask them to tell you more about something they love, and show interest in the answer.
For guidance on the legal issues you should consider when entering into a second marriage, such as changes to your estate plan or formation of a prenuptial agreement, contact the knowledgeable and compassionate Houston family attorney Maria S. Lowry for a consultation, at 713-850-8859.