Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Five Tips to Help Your Child Adjust to a Stepparent

ID-10041666Terry slouched on my therapy couch and mumbled, “My mom has a new husband. She wants me to be nice to him, but I don’t feel like being nice. I’m sick and tired of not seeing my dad. I don’t like this strange guy walking around my house and telling me he’s my friend. He’s not my friend. He’s a stranger. I want my dad back.”

The challenge of living with a stepparent requires time and patience from all family members. Suddenly there is a stranger sharing the bathroom, giving directions, and checking your homework. Mom or dad is no longer exclusively yours. One parent’s daily presence is lost. Holidays become complicated. And what do you call this new person who shows up at the breakfast table with habits that annoy you? 


From the child’s point of view, his/her family has been torn apart and replaced with another. This loss and new arrangement were not by choice. Feelings of anger linger long after the parents’ divorce is final. If the child hasn’t openly worked through anger and unforgiveness towards the original parents, these feelings carry over to the blended family.

So, what can parents do to help children adjust to newly formed families?

1) Ask God for wisdom to discern the needs of your children. The remarried couple is delighted to put their former marriages behind them and is hopeful about the future. Children of divorce are not in the same place. Often their feelings of rejection intensify when strangers enter the family. Remarried adults must constantly ask, “What are the needs of the children?”


2) Blended families should not pretend to be a replacement family for children. The reality is that children lose a parent and parents gain a new partner. You must continually talk about this fact. Encourage emotional expression. Reassure the children that no matter what they feel, you can handle it and will deal with it. 

3) Be patient. While stepchildren need to be helped through the transition of blending a family, don’t force closeness. It takes time for a child to get to know a new adult and feel comfortable having him or her in the house. It is normal for a child to want the original family back so he/she doesn’t have to divide loyalties, visitation, and important dates.


4) Be careful to give children privacy when it comes to their physical bodies.  As stepparents, you did not change their diapers, tuck them into bed every night, and you are not biologically related. Therefore, you must be extra sensitive to appropriate physical boundaries.

5) Keep God the center of family life. He is your constant source of strength and healing. Be a family who prays and commits to working through even the toughest emotions and disappointments.


  • Wally

    This five step is great. More advice for me as parent to do.

Previous Posts

What's At the Root of Your Procrastination?
Most of us know the feeling of procrastination. It often goes like this: I know I have to complete that project by the end of week. Nothing in me wants to do it. I'll go to the gym. Exercise will relax me and help me concentrate better. ...

posted 7:00:59am Oct. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Get Control of that Anger
Are you easily angered? Do you have a low tolerance for frustration. Does any little thing annoy and frustrate you? Are you tired of feeling out of control? If so, consider this. Some children seem to be born more edgy and irritable. They ...

posted 7:00:34am Oct. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Who Made You the Boss?
Have you ever had that moment when you thought or said, "Who made you the boss?" Someone in authority or a leader makes a decision and you think you know better. If we are honest, this happens all the time. Yet, in most cases, we have no ...

posted 7:00:43am Sep. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Stress Eating? The Brownie or the Apple?
You want to lose weight and know what you need to eat. But does stress make it harder to actually make healthy food choices? Let's say you are under stress at work. You have to pass a series of exams to get that needed promotion. So much ...

posted 7:00:44am Sep. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Harvard's Humanist Chaplaincy: Good Without God
I was listening to HLN the other day as I was driving home from work and heard a show about Harvard University's humanist chaplain. I went to Harvard's chaplaincy page and found this description, "The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard is dedicated ...

posted 7:00:37am Sep. 25, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.