When Stepkids Become Adults

Laura Petherbridge

“I’ve decided to begin some new techniques with my adult step-kids,” Stepmom Nancy shared with me.

“I sent an email to my step daughter- in-law sharing how I wanted to begin a fresh year and communicate more often. I have decided stop waiting for them to make the first move. I want them to know that I care,” she continued.


Reaching Out to Stepchhildren Can Be Confusing

My husband and I have been married for 27 years, so his sons and their daughters are used to me being in the picture. But even this many years later it’s different once they grow up and get married. I’ve started doing exactly what this stepmom shared. I reach out to my step daughters-in-law whenever possible.

 If the remarriage occurred when the kids were already adults, a stepmom will need to gauge if and when her husband’s family desires to have a relationship with her.  It’s possible they aren’t ready to add more faces into the family photo.

In that situation it’s wise for her to step back, offer small gestures of love that express a desire to reach out. And then accept and recognize that it’s Ok to guard your heart. It hurts when we desire a relationship with someone and they don’t reciprocate. In a stepfamily it often takes a while for the relationship to form.

Give Kids Their Dad

The most common statement I hear from adult step-kids is, “When my Dad remarried, we lost him. He spends all of his time with her family, her grandkids, and doing what she wants to do. I’m happy my dad found someone to love, but it hurts that we no longer exist.”

If you wish to communicate love to adult stepkids let Dad have time with his family that may, or may not, include you. Encourage him to spend time alone with his children and grandchildren. This will allow the children to see you as an ally, not someone who is stealing the parent away from his family. And it often bridges the gap that gradually allows the stepmom to walk across into the family.  

“I am sending my step daughter- in- law a nice thank you note for a small gift she gave me for Christmas.  I pray that acknowledging the gift will open the door to a fresh start,” Nancy continued.

Now that is one Smart Stepmom!!

Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on relationships, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, and a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series. Her book The Smart Stepmom, is co-authored with Ron Deal. Laura’s website is www.The SmartStepmom.com

Copyright © Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved