As a school counselor, kids tell me things. Here are seven things most kids wish they could tell their new stepparent:
- I want my parents to get back together. Maybe that's not really a secret; you probably already know this. 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.
- I want my parent to myself. I really, really still want and need one-on-one time with my parent. I know you love my dad/mom. I get that you are married 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.
- 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 them both. 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.
- I know that you love your biological kids more than you love me. I get that. But my little brother/sister doesn't understand why you treat them differently than your "real" kids. We didn't pick this situation. You guys made the decision to blend our two families. It's going to take time for us to know each other, trust each other and love each other. In the meantime, please try to be fair and consistent.
- Your kids and I need time to "blend." Your kids are pretty much strangers to me. It's going to take a long time to feel like a family. You can't put strangers in the same house (let alone in bunk beds in the same bedroom) and expect everything to be great 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.
- How I act is not all about you. Regardless of what has happened with you adults, I am still a kid, which means that 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 from you guys.
- 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!)
For more parenting help, go to www.joycelinder.net. Or order Joyce's new book,"Parental Guidance: a School Counselor's Guide to Understanding and Raising Today's Tweens and Teens".