Gaining a Stepparent

Category: Play Therapy

Are you a kid of divorced parents?  Then you might wonder what will happen next.  It’s normal for you to have many concerns, thoughts and hopes about your future. These can vary from child to child, but some of the more common concerns for kids from divorced families are:

1. Will my parents remarry?

2. If so, when?

3. What if I don’t like their new partners?

It’s normal to feel afraid and anxious about gaining a new stepparent.  It’s actually expected that you will feel a lot of different feelings (i.e. sadness, anger, or confusion) if your mom and/or dad remarries.  Which makes sense, because gaining a stepparent means you have to build a relationship with a new person. 

What makes this tricky is there are no easy answers when it comes to accepting a stepparent because every situation is so different.  Some kids gain stepparents after a divorce, others after the death of a parent.  Some kids gain stepparents right away and for others it can take years.  The good news is whatever your situation is, there are ways to deal with a new stepparent:

  1. Address your feelings.  You’ve probably felt a lot of different emotions since your parents divorced and it’s normal to have strong feelings about gaining a stepparent, too.  Find someone supportive to talk about these feelings with such as a parent, teacher or friend. 
  2. Ask questions. It’s common to have many questions about your new relationship.  What do I call my stepparent?  Are they going to discipline me?  Explore these questions with your family as they arise and try to find agreed upon solutions.
  3. Give them a chance.  You don’t have to become best friends with your stepparent or even like them at first.  When you are comfortable and ready to, give the relationship a chance.  Try and find a common interest and go do something fun together like seeing a movie or going for a hike.  Know that it takes time to build new relationships and expect there might be some challenges along the way.   

These are just a few examples of how to start thinking about forming a bond with your new stepparent.  You might find you need more help and that’s okay.  At Treehouse Counseling Services our clinicians have experience with this type of issue and we’re here to help!

Christine Holmberg, LMFT