Being a parent is hard enough but being a stepparent to a teen can be even more challenging. Divorce can shatter a child’s world. Add a new stepparent into the mix of the craziness that comes along with being a teen and you could potentially have a huge headache on your hands.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are things you can do and not do to become an amazing stepparent to teens and have a harmonious home.
Don’t take it personally. Teens are teens!
If your teenage stepchild isn’t ready to welcome you with open arms, don’t get offended. Remember, they’re not only dealing with raging hormone levels, schoolwork, and relationships but also the fact that their parent has moved on and away from their other parent. Some teens need lots of space and time so they can figure things out. Remember, in their mind, your involvement means their parents won’t get back together. That’s something they need to learn to accept so that they can begin to accept you. At any rate, taking offense at their rejection or distance will likely only make things worse.
Develop trust and honesty.
You start out as a stranger to your new stepchild; they need to learn they can trust you. If you’re fake, your stepchild will sense that from a mile away and likely report back to their parent. Be honest and open, allowing your stepchild to get to know you on their own time and their own terms. The more you push, the more they will push you away. Once they trust you, no matter how long that takes, they may eventually even come to you for advice or to confide in. But don’t expect that; a good, healthy relationship free of conflict is a good goal.
Let your spouse and the teen’s other parent have the hard conversations.
When you become a stepparent one of the hardest parts is learning your role. While your stepchild can certainly come to you to talk and for advice, you shouldn’t be the source for those hard conversations that all parents need to have with their teens. Their biological parents should take the reins there. There’s a good chance that you and your spouse may not have identical opinions on hard or controversial conversations. If that’s the case, you should politely bow out of any discussion to do with that topic.
Don’t discipline. Leave that to your stepkid’s parents.
This goes along the same lines as leaving the hard conversations to the parents. For the most part, it’s a good idea to leave the discipline to them too. If you have been a stepparent for a long time, you might be used to disciplining your stepkids at a young age.
However, as kids enter the teen years, they tend to be less forgiving of their stepparents than they are their biological parents. While the stepparent should probably shy away from discipline, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be respected and listened to. If that is happening, that’s another topic of a big conversation that needs to happen between the teen and his parents.
Let them have 1:1 time with your spouse.
You are definitely a big part of your spouse’s life, but so is their child. Just as you have alone time with your spouse, there should also be child-parent alone time too. It’s important for them so that they can have a strong relationship. If you’re always around and don’t let that one on one time happen, they could begin to resent you which isn’t going to benefit anyone.
Keeping these five tips in mind can help you become an amazing stepparent to your teen. Just remember that these types of relationships take time. So don’t give up! It will be worth it in the end.