7 Secrets your Stepkids Wish you Knew

dandelion-1I have worked with a lot of kids whose parents are divorced and are remarried to someone with kids. And they tell me stuff. Heartbreaking stuff. What I know for sure is no matter what their age or background, kids in “blended families” have very similar thoughts, fears and desires. Here are 7 of the most common things kids wish they could tell their new stepparent:

  1. I want my parents to get back together. Maybe that’s not really a secret; you probably already know this. But although it’s my wish and fantasy, the secret part is that it’s NOT because I don’t like you. It sounds weird, but it has nothing to do with you. I just want the two people I love most in this world to live in the same house so I don’t have to go back and forth or worry about either one.
  2. I need one-on-one time with my parent (without you).  I know you love each other and want to spend time together and that your marriage has to stay strong. BUT I really need time with my parent. Just us. Again, it’s not because I don’t like you. But they are different with me alone and I really need to see that is still there so that I can feel secure. When my family-as-I-knew it split up, it was a huge loss for me. And even though my parent is happy now with you, I’m still grieving and trying to adjust. Please understand I’m not trying to push you out. I just need to keep the connection strong.
  3. It hurts when you make me choose sides. I know that there is a good chance you do not like or respect my other parent. I know you probably have seen and heard a lot more than I have so maybe you are even justified in your opinions. But regardless, please don’t drag me into it. I need to stay neutral because I love both my parents. I know it might be hard, but if you are able to do this, it will help me trust you and look up to you as a great role model.
  4. It hurts when you treat us differently than your “real” kids. I know that you love your biological kids more than you love me but if you guys want us all to be a family, we need to all feel like we belong. Please try to be fair and consistent.
  5. “Blending” is hard. Your kids are pretty much strangers to me. None of us picked this situation and it’s going to take awhile for us to adjust. You can’t put strangers in the same house (let alone in bunk beds in the same bedrooms) and expect everything to be “hunky dory” just because you and my parent love each other so much. Please give us time and allow us our own space, privacy and belongings. This isn’t easy for any of us.
  6. I don’t need or want a “new” mom or dad. What I really need more than another parent is a strong, consistent role model I can look up to and learn from. If you just take the time to get to know me, and let me take the time to get to know you, we have a good chance of building a strong relationship. (But remember, as I said earlier, I’m still a kid and kids don’t always want to bond with adults, not even their biological ones!)
  7. I’m a kid and I am going to act like a kid. I will sometimes be moody, withdrawn, mouthy and rambunctious. Please don’t take it personally. Not everything I do is because of “the divorce” or because I don’t like you. Please try to remember what you felt like when you were my age. No matter how good a parent you are, I’m probably going to try to pull away or even rebel in small or big ways. I need fair and consistent limits and rules and patience and love.

Joyce Linder is a Parenting Coach for parents of tweens/ teens, a school counselor in a middle school and a mother of two sons. Visit her on the web at www.joycelinder.net. She is also on twitter @JoyceLinder1 and on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/joyce823———————————————————————————————————————————————————————
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  1. I love this! I came from a home with a stepdad and I wish I could have voiced these things.

  2. valeri andrews says:

    this list is so thoughtful

  3. Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. My goal is to help parents (and step parents) look at things from a different perspective. To paraphrase a quote from Maya Angelou, when you know better, you can do better!

    For more blog posts and free resources for parents, go to http://www.joycelinder.net

  4. Very well said! I hope it helps some of the step parents out there.

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