Teens & step families
*STEP-FAMILIES - The most important rule when you find someone new is don't introduce them too quickly! Initial relationships after divorce have been shown by research to breakdown at a rate of 90 per cent. It's usually the second or third relationship after divorce that tends to be longer term. It's important that your home does not become a ‘revolving door’ of new partners coming in and out of your life and your teen’s life.
That said, if you’re dating do let your teens know you're going on dates but don't over blow the date’s potential for becoming a ‘new’ mum or dad.
When you do introduce someone keep it casual. Don’t make it a formal dinner, instead invite them round for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Keeping it low key makes everybody less anxious.
Don't overdo the fact that you're "so in love". This can be very daunting to a teenager looking at a parent falling deeply in love. You may feel that way but you should temper how you express this around your teen.
If you're getting serious then share this information with your teen. Ask their feelings about you developing a serious relationship. Listen to what they have to say and any concerns they have. Step-families have a divorce rate twice as high as first marriages so don't rush anything.
Don't act as if you’re putting your new partner above them. Reassure them that they come first. Your new partner should back you up on this.
If you remarry, or decide to have you new partner move in, then set some ground rules. Issues like what your teen calls your new partner should be discussed with everyone. Also how discipline will work is important to lay out. Most trouble comes from step-families not discussing these sensitive issues. Burying your head in the sand and hoping for the best is the worst thing you can do!
Everyone should feel they're being heard and valued in the new family dynamic.
For your teen – Get Connected (0808-808-4994) will assist them in finding help for any issue they want help with.
A useful general contact is www.parentlineplus.co.uk or 0808-800-2222
Family Matters Helpline - 01474-537-392
Family mediation Service - 020-8343-9899