Advice from an Adult Stepkid
Whether you are joining a family with young stepchildren or adult stepchildren, there will be challenges. Both situations are extremely unique, on one hand, if your stepchild is young they may be more open to accepting you since they may not fully understand and have the same emotions as an older stepchild. On the other hand, an adult stepchild may be mature enough and emotionally available to embrace you into their life.
I myself am an adult stepchild who has been a stepchild since the age of 7. As a result, I have experienced various stages of being a stepkid throughout the years. There have been many ups and downs and I believe that now, finally in my late twenties, my blended family has figured out a dynamic that works best for us.
I have three stepbrothers and they are all adults as well. I have had two stepdads, my current stepdad met me when I was a teenager (and I was quite the brat) but we really became close in my twenties. We have a strong relationship now that took time to build so because of that, I have some advice on how other stepparents can make that happen.
Don’t be a parent
This may be one of the trickiest, yet most important pieces of advice. If your stepkid is an adult, then the ‘parenting’ job is already done. They have gone through the years where they needed discipline and order and now, they just need a friend. I know for a fact that there were many times I called my mom in a panic needing help and my stepdad just calmly supported my mom and did not voice his own opinion. He let my mom and I continue doing the things we were used to. If I was in trouble or needed help he was there but I would always go to my mom first. By letting that happen it gave me a sense of ease with my stepdad.
Since he let me know that he was there for support, it actually led me to seek his advice as I got older. I grew to respect him so much that I genuinely care and actively seek his advice now, which I think is quite a beautiful thing.
Give us space
If you are new to your marriage and have now embraced an adult stepchild, you might not even see them very much. If your stepchild (step-adult?) has a place of their own and no longer lives at home, it will be easy to give them space. At the start, you don’t need to try and be friends and hang out with them all the time. In my opinion, it is appropriate to just see them when your partner sees them.
Give them time to one day feel comfortable enough to invite you out alone. Trust me, space and time solve a lot of problems you might be the answer to a lot of problems you are experiencing.
Hold us accountable
We are no longer step ‘kids’ we are adults. That being said, as an adult your stepchild should behave as such. Since the relationship is not solely about child rearing/parenting, half of the responsibility for a good relationship is on the stepchild. As adults, there should be two people involved in creating a strong relationship. Your stepchild has a responsibility to step up and work on things and get to know you just as much as you have the same responsibility.
The reality is, if your stepchild does not attempt to create a relationship with you then that is on them. You do not have to carry that burden on your own. As long as you follow the preview words of advice then your relationship should be peaceful and your new family member may reach out eventually. If everyone is an adult and acts as such things should progress naturally.
Don’t forget about us
If you have found love later in life it’s easy to have that infatuated teenager type of love with your partner. This is wonderful, but I suggest being cautious and not ignoring your new family if you are blind in love. In this honeymoon stage don’t forget your stepchildren, especially if they are adults and they don’t live with you anymore. It would be terrible to forget or miss significant moments in their lives because you weren't present.
Just remember that every relationship and every family is different. Adult stepchild and parent relationships will be more individual and more mature given that they are not burdened by any kind of child rearing. You truly can create a wonderful lasting relationship built on honesty, trust, and support as long as you put in the work and give it time.
XO, Social Stepmom