Posted by The Family Law Company on 21st December 2011

If your mum or dad gets married again, you will gain a step-mother or father as part of your family. It can be hard to get used to having another adult in your life. You mum or dad may have got to know them but chances are, you don’t know them all that well yet.

What Should I Call Them?

When Tim moved in with us I didn’t know what to call him. I thought he might want me to call him dad but I didn’t want to. One day I just blurted it out and asked him and he said he was quite happy with Tim. It was a big relief.” Ewan, 14

It can be hard to know how to behave with a new adult. A good idea in the beginning is to treat them like a teacher or your friend’s parents – be polite, show respect and be open and friendly. You are both getting to know each other and over time you will find a way to get along.

Will There Be New Rules?

A new step-parent can have different ideas about family rules, especially if they have children of their own. Things like mealtimes, what you wear, going out with friends, what time to come in and bedtimes can cause real problems in a new family if you don’t know where you stand.

It’s a good idea to ask your mum or dad if you can all sit down with the whole family and work out the new rules. Write them down if you need to, then everyone knows what was decided. This can really help everyone to get along better

I Can’t Stand My New Step Parent!

It is sometimes hard for people from different families to get along. You have just watched your own parents break up and now there is a new adult making new rules and living in your home. Don’t expect things to work straight away, it nearly always takes time to settle down.

It can help to think about what it is you really can’t stand about them. Is it that they tell you to go to bed at an earlier time than you’re used to? Or do they expect you to come in much earlier than before? Once you’ve worked out what is bothering you, you can speak to your mum or dad and tell them what it is. Try not to say ‘I just hate them’ as this won’t help things, just tell them the facts and see if they can do anything to sort it out.

If you are really worried and unhappy about your new Step-parent, or if his or her behaviour is making you really miserable – it’s very important that you speak to someone. If you can’t speak to someone in your family, talk to someone you can trust such as a teacher or counsellor at a young person’s helpline. You are not alone, there are plenty of people who have been through this and want to help you.

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