Case Study: Teenager Coping With a Step Parent
BECOMING a teenager is probably one of the most dramatic stages in the development of a child and is fraught with worries, concerns and anxieties. To add any further stress or disruption at this stage of their lives will never prove an easy task to deal with, but in the case of Luke, this is unfortunately exactly what happened when at 14, he suddenly found himself with a step mum and a new step sister called Jennie.
Not an Easy TimeLuke said: “It really wasn’t easy at all! When my parents split up, I went to live with my Dad which was great because it was all about me and him, and then at weekends when I saw Mum it was also great because it was all about me and her! I got loads of attention from both of them and then all of a sudden Dad met Lisa and she became his girlfriend.
Different Rules“She was really nice to me and I did like her and got on well with her. The only problem was Jennie-her daughter who was a bit younger than me. I don’t know if it was because Jennie was a girl or because she was only 11, but it just seemed to me like she was being really spoilt the whole time and getting away with things that Dad would never have let me get away with.
Frustrations“Lisa treated Jennie differently to me, even though she had made a big speech about being my Step Mum and all that. I suppose she was bound to favour her own daughter but I was still jealous because Jennie and Lisa moved in to my house and sort of took over really. I wasn’t used to having girls around and I found it very hard and frustrating at times.”
Luke’s experience of becoming part of a step family is very common, and the way he felt about Jennie and Lisa is typical of how children react and respond to such a situation.
He added: “We all get on fine now and we even go on holiday together, and my Mum gets on with Lisa and Dad and Jennie too so we are like one big family but it didn’t happen overnight and it was hard work.”
Different Experiences for EveryoneStepfamilies come together when parents marry again or live with a new partner. This may be after the death of one parent, separation or divorce. This can be a very difficult time for everyone, especially young people. It can be different for everyone. Some people find it hard whilst others adjust very easily.
It's normal for there to be some problems adjusting to a stepfamily. Learning to cope with stepparents, stepbrothers and stepsisters can be a difficult and lonely experience. There can be pressure to be a 'perfect family', but it takes time to get to know one another.
There are lots of reasons that being in a stepfamily can be tough. It's hard to be separated from either of your parents, or your brothers or sisters if they live apart from you.
These are just some of the things that can cause problems:
- You may have to move house or even schools. There may be different rules and ways of doing things in your new family. You might have to eat different kinds of food. There may be changes about when homework is done or what household tasks you might be expected to do. Family holidays, Christmas and other religious festivals might be celebrated in different ways. You may have less privacy; for example, sharing a bedroom, or not having somewhere quiet to do homework or just be alone.