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Q: My mom recently announced that she’s getting remarried. Though I do like her boyfriend, I didn’t expect her to get married to him! I’m feeling a lot of stuff. Like, he has kids too, so is he supposed to be my new dad now? Does this mean my mom and dad won’t ever get back together? How will this affect my relationship with my mom? I guess I’m just worried about my family, or what I used to consider to be my family. Now, I don’t know what to think! I want to be happy for my mom. I’m just not sure how.
A: Hi, friend. Sounds like there is A LOT going on with you, and for good reason. Watching your parent fall in love with a new person — who isn’t your mom or dad — is tough, and super weird. Having a new stepparent will take some adjustment for sure. It probably seems to you that your mom has invited a new person and his children to become part of your family without your say in the matter. It seems unfair, right? But if you can remember that this development is meant to help you and your mom — and NOT hurt you — as well as keeping the following tips in mind, you can totally handle everything. Promise.
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1. Get Honest With Your Feelings
You’re feeling all the feelings — confused, angry, frustrated, sad. This is totally normal. For example, you might think your new stepparent is replacing your other parent, and/or your dreams of your parents reuniting have been crushed. This is heavy stuff. Rather than keeping them to yourself, tell your parent how you’re feeling. Don’t be scared of hurting their feelings. They want to help you feel better and they’ll be so happy and relieved you took the time to be honest.
2. Ask All the Questions
You can’t stop the marriage from happening, so now is time to face reality. Arrange a meeting with your parent and new stepparent and ask as many questions as you can think of that will help you deal with this new situation. Ask what their new marriage will mean for your living arrangements. Figure out what your relationship will be with your step-siblings and whether or not you will have to share a bedroom or bathroom, or anything else with them. Ask about holidays and with whom you’ll be spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with. Your parent and stepparent might not even be thinking about these issues, so it’s important you speak up.
3. Get to Know Your New Stepparent
Since your new stepparent is becoming part of your family, it’s important that you spend some quality time together, getting to know each other, and enjoying each other’s company. If you haven’t hung out one-on-one before, now is the time to do it. Choose a fun activity, like watching a baseball game or going for a mani-pedi, and really focus on seeing your new stepparent as a new trusted confidant who wants the best for you — and NOT the enemy. Chances are they are just as nervous as connecting with you as you are with them, so try to relax and enjoy yourself as you would with anyone who you’re trying to get to know.
4. Get Involved
Weddings are usually super fun, so it’s an event that is worth looking forward to. You might want to consider helping out with the planning. Not only will your parent appreciate your support, but the more involved you are, the more you will feel apart of the festivities. The wedding will become something that you — your parent, your stepparent, and your step-siblings — did together as part of your new blended family. It’s a memory and bonding experience worth having.
Every situation is different. Be open to possibilities, prepare for ups-and-downs, and remember that change, although difficult, can be fun too.