Hey Nikki, My dad is getting remarried this month, and that itself is a pretty big thing. So if that weren’t enough, his fiancée is bringing six stepsiblings to join the family! I am so stressed out that I can barely think straight. Any advice you have would be great!
Stressed Out Stepsister
Hi Stressed Out Stepsister,
Wow! That is a LOT of MAJOR change happening all at once!
Even though I think Brianna counts as like THREE annoying little siblings, I still have no idea what it would be like to suddenly have SIX! And that’s on top of the new stepmother thing.
So, I can TOTALLY understand why you’re stressing. I would be, too. But! I also know a bunch of people who have survived turning into a new family (also known as a “blended family”), so I know it can be done (and IS done all the time).
I talked to some of my friends in blended families and got some tips for you. Here it goes:
Find ways to maintain some special one-on-one time with your dad. A big part of the change is going to be figuring out how to be a new (much bigger!) family, but you and your dad will always have a special bond, and it’s fair to ask for some time to keep that bond strong. Maybe ask him for a once-a-month fun activity—just the two of you go for a hike, grab froyo or do whatever you like to do that gives you a chance to connect. (Like probably not a movie where you’ll just sit there, staring at a screen.)
Get to know your new bigger family by spending quality time with them. It’s definitely going to be a huge adjustment to suddenly having seven new people in your family. But there are things huge families can do that much smaller ones can’t. Take Secret Santa gift exchanges for example! Or team sports! There’ll also be more kids to spread the chores around! And, depending where you fall in the age range, you might find you really enjoy having older siblings to get advice from, or younger siblings to boss around. 🙂
So, try to look on the bright side and build some new traditions with your new family.
Communicate your feelings. It won’t all be flag football and scavenger hunts. There will definitely be frustrations. You might have a personality clash with one of your new siblings, or bristle if your stepmom tries to discipline you or feel like your dad doesn’t have time for you anymore. The main thing is to communicate about these feelings, whatever they are. If you can talk to your dad and even your new stepmom, that would be best. If you can’t, then talk to another adult you trust. But don’t bottle it all up.
(And remember—all siblings clash. If you were an only child before this, you might assume conflicts are all because you’re a stepfamily, but that’s not necessarily true. A certain amount of sibling battles actually means that things are healthy and normal!)
See if your dad and stepmom are open to having a family meeting, or maybe even regular family meetings. You won’t be the only person feeling uncertain about all the changes. A family meeting is a good place for people to share their feelings and be heard. It might also be a good place to set some family rules and consequences. Everyone needs to know what’s expected of them, so laying it all out there at the very beginning can really help.
Don’t expect everything to work out perfectly or that you’ll all become a close family overnight. Even if you all ADORE each other and things go WAY better than expected, it’s A LOT of change. There are going to be rough spots. Your dad and his new wife said some vows—that might make you a family legally, but you aren’t going to FEEL like a family right away. That’s okay! It doesn’t mean anything is wrong or that you won’t EVENTUALLY feel like a family.
So, be patient with yourself and everyone else. Be honest about your feelings. And give it time.