5 Tips to Be a Better Step-Parent at the Holidays

Being a parent of a teen is difficult enough. Try being a stepparent! This is a tricky role all year long but is particularly difficult during the holiday season. Not only are the kids leaving and re-entering homes but the parents and stepparents are trading, missing, and re-uniting with stepchildren. The shape and size of families changes during the weekends, sometimes weekdays, and especially during the holidays.

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So how is a stepparent to deal with the stress of the ever-changing family structure and rules during the holidays? As usual, we have suggestions.

1. You and your spouse should consider creating a set of expectations for the teens prior to their arrival and departure during the holidays.

2. Try to communicate calmly. Keep in mind that patience is appreciated.

3. Remember that you have more power than you know. You are in an excellent position to be a positive role model.

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4. Set up family traditions with your stepchildren. Traditions seem to help everyone relax. Most teens thrive on consistency.

5. Resist the urge to speak negatively about their biological parents. Negativity never assists in any situation.

The takeaway: If you are willing to be patient and respectful while riding the stepparent roller coaster then you are more likely to receive the same behavior in return. It may take some time but your investment is likely to lead to great dividends!


How do the holiday work in your blended family?

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Dr. Barbara Greenberg, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents. Formerly the director of an inpatient adolescent unit at a psychiatric hospital in New York for 21 years, she is now in full-time private practice. She is the co-author of Teenage as A Second Language-A Parents Guide to Becoming Bilingual (Adams Media) and the co-creator of the interactive website talkingteenage.com.

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