Step-Parenting Tips for Different Age Groups

Despite what “The Brady Bunch” may have portrayed, most step-parents go into the role knowing they have their work cut out for them. Love and trust are earned, right? While you likely know the basics – setting boundaries, keeping the lines of communication open, making sure you don’t overstep – what many people don’t realize are the nuances needed for children of different ages. Quite simply, what works to build your relationship with the youngest in your blended family may fall flat with the oldest. We can help with step-parenting tips adjusted by age.

Children under 10 Years Old

Children in this age group tend to adjust easier to step-parents as they thrive on cohesive family relationships and, in general, are more accepting of new adults in their lives. However, they do tend to feel competitive for their parent’s attention so make sure they have quality time together without you and that they know you’re not trying to replace their other parent. Also, children in this age group may not fully understand what divorce means aside from the fact that their other parent no longer lives in the house. So, another step-parenting tip is to answer any questions they have with care, being careful not to disparage your spouse’s ex.

Children Ages 10 to 14

Known as the tween years, children in this age group may have the most difficult time adjusting to a blended family. It’s already an angst-filled time in life with the beginning of puberty and the physical as well as emotional changes it brings. Add in the stress of divorce then a new step-parent and there’s likely to be some resistance—you’re a stranger to them after all. Even though they may not show their feelings openly, they crave love, support, discipline, and attention just the same as younger children. The best step-parenting tip here is to be patient, yet consistent in trying to build a relationship and recognize that it’s not necessarily you personally, they just simply need more time to bond.

Children Ages 15 and Up

The teen years are that confusing time in life as children learn to become adults. Depending on the age and maturity of the child, their acceptance of a step-parent could go either way. Or they may be indifferent altogether as children in this age group typically have less involvement in family life while they begin to form their own identities. Again, patience and consistency are key in terms of step-parenting tips as teenagers still want to feel loved and secure, even if they may not show it. Let them know you’re there for them, whenever they are ready.

Step-Parenting Tips When Your Efforts Aren’t Working

If after time and your best efforts, you still feel like you’re not making a connection with your step-children, it may be time to seek help by reaching out to friends, family, a support group, or a family counselor. If some of the challenges are related to your spouse’s co-parent, you might even consider a Family Law Attorney in which a neutral third party helps you to work together to reach an amicable co-parenting agreement which is often a welcome alternative—less confrontational, less expensive, less time consuming—to going back to court.

For additional information on how we can help you, contact us today to learn more.

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WhitsonLaw, PLLC

WhitsonLaw can assist you with divorce, mediation, custody, child support, protective orders, adoption and more.

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