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How to help children adjust to new stepparents

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2022 | Child Custody

When parents divorce, the transition can be challenging for children. For many Maryland families, this is the first of multiple transitions that children will have to go through. Other transitions may follow when their parents start dating, even more so when they move a new partner into the home or remarry. It can be common for children who dislike a new stepparent to vent to the other parent. Dealing with kids who dislike an ex’s new partner can be tricky to navigate. Here are some best practices: 

  • Discuss the reasons for their feelings: It can be easy to feel defensive or concern when a child shares that they don’t like a new stepparent. However, it is important not to jump to any conclusions or assume that the stepparent is necessarily to blame until finding out more.  
  • Communicate with the other household: The other household will likely need to take the lead in finding a solution to the issues raised by the child. It’s important to be tactful when raising the feelings a child has. Rather than saying something hurtful like “my child does not like so-and-so,” address the root causes and see if an improved situation can be brokered. 
  • Take action if the issue is serious: There are many reasons that a child may dislike a stepparent. In many cases, the issues are manageable. Perhaps they come from a fear of future change or feelings of needing to “compete” with the new family member. These issues can often be worked through at home. However, if there is abuse in play, more serious action should be taken. 

In some cases, there may be a need to seek legal counsel regarding a child’s relationship with their stepparent. This can be the case if there is abuse going on in the other home, or if they are old enough to ask for a custodial change for themselves based on the circumstances. In these cases, parents should consider reaching out to a Maryland family lawyer about their particular circumstance and options.