When Your Parents Remarry

You may find it difficult to accept, much less be happy about the fact that one or both of your parents is remarrying.

 

You may still be having a lot of problems coping with your parents’ divorce or the death of one of your parents. And now another big change has occurred or is about to.

This tape will discuss some of the feelings and problems you and your family may experience as two families try to blend into one. The tape will also discuss some of the ways you can deal with the problems you’re having.

When two families merge, life can get a little complicated. It may be especially hard on you because as a teenager you’re going through many other emotional and physical changes. For more information on the particular problems of teens, listen to our tape, “It’s Not Easy Being A Teen.” Because you are going through so many changes, it’s more important than ever for you to develop a sense of stability and security – such as financial security – such a change can be difficult to deal with on an emotional level.

You are probably making a lot of comparisons between your natural parent and your stepparent. This is not an uncommon thing to do since we all learn about life by comparing experiences. Every family does things differently and often the everyday differences in habits; values and traditions become a real source of irritation and hassle. For example, you had been able to go to bed when you wanted, but your new stepparent believes that parents ought to set bedtimes. Some habits and values that can create conflict are: food and meal times, sleep, friends, TV, homework, transportation, curfews, use of tobacco and alcohol, language and money. You may often say to yourself, “My mother or father wouldn’t do it this way,” or “We used to do it this way.” If this occurs, try to talk to your parent and/or stepparent about your feelings and the difficulties you’re having in trying to adjust. See if you can’t negotiate some compromises in the way that things are done. Be sure to let your parents know that some of the traditions and rituals in the family are important to you and your sense of stability.

You may experience a lot of anger that your “natural” parent can love someone other than your mother or father. You may also be feeling angry that you have to share your parent with your stepparent and with new “brothers and sisters.”

You may have to share a room either all the time or on weekends. New siblings may have also caused some change in your place in the family. For example, maybe you are no longer the oldest girl or the only boy. These kinds of changes will no doubt have some positive and some negative effects for you. Try to talk with your parent and arrange to have some special time with him or her and remember that none of these changes will be all good or all bad.

Another difficulty for you may be hearing your stepparent or your own parent make negative remarks about your other parent. Please remember they are going through difficult times also and that your new stepparent may have some very different values than your natural parent. It may be difficult for your stepparent to accept certain of your behaviors because you have not grown up with them and they do not always understand why you are the person you are.

Try hard to keep the lines of communication open with your parents and stepparents. Also remember it is probably easier for you to get along with the parent you’re not living with, because that parent does not have to deal with all the conflicts that arise when people try to adjust to new habits, values and traditions.

We’ve talked about some of the feelings and problems that occur when parents remarry. We’ve encouraged you to keep trying to communicate with your parents about your feelings. If you think the communication lines are totally blocked, try talking to an adult friend, school counselor, teacher, your minister or doctor. Thank you.

 

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.