Teens in Stepfamilies
By Lisa Cohn, www.StepFamilyTalkRadio.com
children are teens, its probably the hardest time to form
stepfamilies, says Susan Wisdom, co-author of the book Stepcoupling.
because the teens are trying to move away from the family, not become
part of a new stepfamily, explains Dr. Margorie Engel, past president
and CEO of the Stepfamily Association of America, based in Lincoln,
our society, teen years are the time to begin separating from family
so that teens are prepared for independence after high school,"
says Engel. "When parents with teenagers marry and create a
stepfamily, they inadvertently stall this developmental process
... by forcing combined activities, meals, and bedrooms to the detriment
of privacy, one-on-one time with children, and time with peers and
their appropriate activities outside the home."
and writer William Seymour says that when his mother remarried,
his new stepdad demanded that Seymour call him Dad.
Seymour refused, saying he saw no reason to call this stranger his
than forcing family on teens, parents in stepfamilies
need to give their children the opportunity to be with friends and
pursue their interests, which can be especially difficult when you
want to see them more often. They also need to embrace patience
and a go-slow approach.
Daniel of Bethesda, Md., says that when her stepdaughter, Mara,
was a teenager, she generally spent six weeks each summer with Mrs.
Daniel and her husband, Timothy. When she was 15, Mara was offered
the opportunity to dance with American Ballet Theater's summer program
in New York, which would cut her visit to two weeks. Mr. and Mrs.
Daniel decided the teen should pursue it, even though they would
a very tough balance to try to ensure enough family time to allow
some kind of cohesion with a teen whom you don't see much and to
be responsive to the fact that they increasingly have lives of their
own," Daniel says.
addition to giving teens the time and space to be with friends and
pursue their own lives, parents of teens need to plan for stepfamily
life before rushing into marriage, says Elizabeth Einstein, co-author
of Strengthening Your Stepfamily.
for remarriage is absolutely critical. Remarriages are harder than
first marriages, she says.
Cohn is co-host of Stepfamily Talk Radio. To listen to an audio
about this topic, click on www.stepfamilytalkradio.com
and listen to Teenage Angst After Divorce.