4 Tips for Blending a Family With Teens
According to the National Parents Organization, one-third of the U.S. population lives in a stepfamily, otherwise known as a blended family. They also report that 30% of children across the country are growing up in a blended family. Within this number are children of all ages, including teens. Raising teenagers is often a much different process than bringing up young children, as they have different needs and personalities from little kids. A new partner entering the life of a teen may pose distinct challenges that are best faced when employing the right strategies. The same goes for the parents of this teen who are co-parenting while also working to blend their new partners, and even their partners' children, into a new kind of family unit.
Blending a family with teens may be filled with many ups and downs, yet when done well, it can work out very well for everyone involved. Here are 4 tips for blending a family with teens.
- Be a team in blended family parenting. Talk to your new partner about the needs of your teenage children. Get on the same page about how to handle discipline, house rules, and much more. Discuss what you both wish for your newly blended family as time goes on and how you will work together to get there. As a family, talk to your teens and children about what your hopes are for your blended family. Acknowledge that this is a new situation for everyone involved and might feel scary, but reassure them that you are all here to support each other as you all move into the future as a family.
- Don't push relationships too hard. Bonus parents strive for all of their children to have relationships with each other. If each parent in a blended family has children or teens of their own, they may wish for all of the kids to come together as great friends right away. While all of this may happen over time, it may not happen overnight. Try not to push these relationships too hard. As you get to know each other better and find things to bond over, the relationships will grow and cultivate. The same goes for the relationships between bonus parents and teens. This relationship will take some time to cultivate, and there may be push back by the teen. Take it slow.
- Discover ways to bond and build a friendship. Teens are young adults with diverse interests. Get to know what the teens in your blended family are interested in, and see where your interests collide. It can be anything, from loving the same TV shows or sports teams to enjoying the same foods or jokes. Acknowledging these similar interests and making an effort to enjoy things you both love together may help you to bond and become better friends over time.
- Expect emotions and have patience. For teens, their parents' separation or divorce is one of the most devastating emotional challenges they have ever had to face. On top of this, simply being a teen isn't always very easy. When working to blend your family, expect that your teen will have an emotional reaction which may cause them to act in a way you might not have predicted. Be patient with your teen, allowing them to have a certain amount of space while also keeping a close eye and open ear on how they are doing. That being said, make sure to reinforce the fact that they can always come to any of the adults in their life with any of the problems they are facing. That includes both of their parents plus the bonus parents entering their lives. If there is any concern about your teen's well-being, you may want to seek guidance from a professional. You may consider speaking to a counselor at your teen's school or enlisting help from another mental health professional who specializes in working with teenagers.
Blending a family with teens might not be very simple, nor will it come together right away. Be patient with your teen while always offering reminders that they are supported by all of the adults in their life. Try not to rush things by pushing your blended family to all come together right away. Try and let the relationships to come together over time as you find things to bond over and build friendships. If you are concerned that things are not coming together or you notice your teens struggling emotionally, seek professional assistance as a group and for your teens individually. They will be able to offer the best guidance to help you bring together your blended family.