Learning to communicate with one another in a blended family is an ongoing challenge, especially when you have teens in the house. Teenagers typically have a harder time adjusting to a new blended family than younger children, according to the KidsHealth website. They are also generally less involved with the new family because they are busy with school and their social lives. Even if your stepson doesn't communicate his feelings, keep in mind that he needs to feel secure, loved and valued. It can take some time for a blended family to feel comfortable together.
1 Resist assuming that everything will be easy and naturally fall into place. Realize that your stepson can feel uncertain of the new family dynamic. It's not unusual if he sometimes challenges you, becomes aggressive or emotionally detaches himself, according to HealthyChildren.org. If this happens try not to overreact. Give your stepson as much time as he needs to get to know you and feel comfortable with you in the home. Allow the relationship to develop over time to create a meaningful connection.
2 Spend time with your stepson to help him get used to your presence while forging new memories. Join him in his favorite activities, such as going to the movies, skateboarding or playing basketball. Participate in daily activities together, like making dinner, picking up groceries or dropping him off at school on your way to work. If your stepson resists spending one-on-one time with you, show your support by attending his games after school or watching his band concert. Encourage his efforts and praise them.
3 Insist that each person in the family treat other family member and their belongings with respect, even if everyone does not get along. Create some house rules and consequences about respecting others that everyone in the family must follow. Do not tolerate name calling, eye rolling or ignoring others to be hurtful. Allow the biological parent to remain in charge of most of the discipline for your stepson. The American Psychological Association recommends being more of a friend or counselor than disciplinarian to your stepchildren when you are first developing your relationships.
4 Realize that your stepson may not want to be part of a close-knit blended family. Give him personal space to express himself and to be alone with his thoughts. Show him the respect that your expect him to show you.
5 Limit your expectations and continue to make the effort to build a unified home. According to the American Psychological Association, it can take two to four years for a blended family to get used to living together.
- Set aside time to spend with your spouse to strengthen your marriage, which in turn can help strengthen your blended family.
- See a psychologist or family counselor to help your transition into being a step family if necessary.
- Do not speak out against ex-spouses in front of any of the children.
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