According to statistics, more than half of marriages end in divorce. And where the divorce – there are attempts of divorced spouses to once again arrange their personal lives. And since children in our country more often stay with their mothers, many of them have a need to build relationships with the new “dad”. These relationships are quite complex: competition for the attention of the mother, and anger due to the fact that the father’s father had to be his father, and much more, can be intertwined in them. Therefore, in this article, we will tell you how to help a teenager to improve relations with his stepfather, so that this process is more easy and painless for your child.
Graduality is the key to success
The first and most important advice is that you should not immediately demand from a teenager that he recognize his stepfather as a part of his family and, especially, call him “dad”. The fact that you are in love with this man, you see your fate, support and support in him has nothing to do with your child. For him, this man is a stranger, an outsider. And he needs time to learn, to accept him, to start considering him to be his family.
However, the last stage may not come, and you should also be ready for this. If stepfather and stepchild/stepdaughter eventually succeeds in at least simply establishing a level, calm, mutually respectful relationship, this will already be more than a sufficient result. And whether they will perceive each other as father and son/daughter is, in many respects, a matter of chance, compatibility of characters, sympathies, and so on. In other words, the proverb “you can’t be forcedly cute” is quite applicable here. Therefore, set a course for the gradual establishment of an even trusting relationship, but do not demand from your loved ones to love each other as you love them.
Best of all, if the acquaintance of the child with his stepfather will develop approximately according to the following algorithm:
- Intimate talk. First of all, you should make your own contact with a teenager, explain to him the current situation before meeting a potential stepfather. Here it is important how to tell about your feelings for your beloved man, and about your love for the child. Let him know that you need this relationship, but that you will always have time and energy for your son/daughter. At this stage, it is very important to convince the teenager that he will not be deprived of attention, forgotten and abandoned because of your relationship so that he does not feel unnecessary, rejected and did not initially treat his stepfather with anger and prejudice.
- First meeting. Getting to know your lover and son/daughter should not be a surprise for the latter. That is, it should be a previously planned event, and it is highly desirable in neutral territory, and not too prolonged in time. Go all together in a cafe, amusement park, cinema. Do not immediately erase all the boundaries and call a man to your home. As well as you should not go somewhere together, for example, for the whole day: too long first contact with a potential stepfather can be a teenager.
- Feedback. After the first contact between a man and his stepson/stepdaughter, you need to ask the second how he felt, whether he liked your elect, was he interested in spending time with both of you, would he like and continue. If everything turns out to be more or less normal, you can continue to work gradually to bring the teenager and stepfather closer together, to “warm up” their relationship. To hold new meetings, make them more often, longer, and after some time start a life together. But, it is quite possible that at this stage you will encounter negative and resistance from the child. How this can be caused and what to do about it – read on.
What if a teen doesn’t like his stepfather?
So, suppose that your son/daughter and the chosen one have already met, but in regard to the stepfather, the teenager is clearly hostile. There are several common reasons for this state of affairs.
Excessive attachment of the child to the mother
Any psychologist will tell you that during adolescence the separation process from parents should already be in full swing. The same “problem” period is the period when a child challenges the authority of his elders, does everything in defiance, tries to be independent and make his own decisions. And this is a very important period because it is he who prepares the teenager for an adult, independent life, for responsibility for himself and his fate. But it often happens that even at a transitional age, he is overly attached to both or one parent. In single-parent families, this happens especially often.
To understand that a teenager’s stepfather’s bad relationship is caused by this very reason is quite simple: they will have very distinct jealous notes. In general, a child at that age should already be interested in the opposite sex, think about a future profession, be involved in some hobbies, and not take to heart the personal lives of their parents. If the jealousy caused by the relations of the stepfather and the mother takes a significant share of his thoughts, then he is still not sufficiently separated from the latter. To fix the problem in such a case, try to draw the adolescent’s attention to various options for his hobbies, to communicate with friends, girls/guys, to study – in a word, try to reveal to him that interesting and rich side of life, in which hesitates to enter fully.
Problems you don’t know about
In adolescents, in fact, a lot of problems. For example, the boyfriend/girlfriend you like is dating someone else. Or acne appeared on the face. Or not enough stylish shoes. Or failure in the sports section. Or the unfair attitude of any teacher in school. Or even nighttime emissions and first sexual fantasies. Or, in the end, he might just miss dad and the time you were together. Some of these problems may seem to you complete nonsense, but try to remember your adolescence: have you sometimes not been worried about the same nonsense? And didn’t this really seem important to you?
Perhaps your child accepts his father-in-law and does not want to build a relationship with him, because he basically suffers from some problems of his own. And because of them, he is depressed, or annoyed, or angry, or offended, or all together. And then, when he already has enough cause for concern, you also want something from him with your new man.
In such a case, it is important, first, not to crush. Here the principle is valid: “the stronger the action, the stronger the opposition”. Secondly, try to find out what worries a teenager so much. And thirdly, to do it with the utmost confidence and respect, not to laugh at the problem, however petty it may seem to you, and, if possible, help the child to deal with it.
Negative from the stepfather
Such situations also have a place to be. A man can, for example, not show it in front of you, and in your absence press on a child, insult him, or, on the contrary, ignore and devalue him. Not to mention that, unfortunately, cases of sexual harassment of stepfathers to children (of both sexes) are quite likely to be. And it is quite natural that both with psychological and with direct physical pressure and violence, the stepchild/stepdaughter would never want to improve relations with her stepfather.
It is also true that a teenager (especially if his mother is jealous of her man) may come up with something like that, just to tarnish his stepfather’s reputation. In both cases, it is necessary to make every effort to find out the truth. Do not rush and immediately take the side of a husband or child – they say, the other side could not do anything like that. You can never know for sure what a person is capable of, even if that person is very close and dear to you. Therefore, try to be as objective as possible, and remember that your first priority is, nevertheless, the protection of your own child. This task is your duty as a mother.
Pressure on your part
Adolescents, in principle, do not like when they impose something. But what else can I say – no one likes imposed relationships. And, quite possibly, the bad relationship between the child and the stepfather is partly due to your behavior.
It so happens that the mother seems to be doing everything right, and does not seem to require the son/daughter to immediately inflame to her stepfather with deep feelings, but subconsciously tries to influence the relations between them. For example, no, no, yes, and she would call her man “dad” in conversation with a child. Somewhere he ignores the hidden, but the quite noticeable reluctance of a teenager to see him in a particular situation, and force them to communicate through force. Or take with him to the mall to choose a gift for his birthday. In a word, try to take care of yourself and not allow such hidden manipulation of the child’s feelings.
Family psychologist help
If you cannot understand why it is such a bad relationship with a teenager and stepfather or have established a reason, but this did not help you to fix them – do not be lazy to be like a psychologist. The format of the meetings will be prompted by the specialist himself (perhaps he will want to work with three of you, or will only hold meetings with your son/daughter and stepfather, or even work with the teenager himself without the presence of adults). This is a normal, adult solution to the problem. It is better to spend several months on psychotherapy and as a result to get calm and mutual respect in the family, than to endure quarrels, offenses, and scandals in the house (which can cause the appearance of new complexes in a teenager) for years.
In conclusion, we note that it is impossible to improve relations between a teenager and stepfather without the efforts of the man himself. Again, do not force him to immediately call your child “son” / “daughter” and demand that he perceives him as his own. But without attention, care, respect from the stepfather, no warm feelings will appear in the child. In the best case, they should both gradually take steps towards each other, get to know each other better and better, support each other and you, and if they once decide to use words like “father”, “son”, and “daughter” – solely on their own will and desire.