Stepfamily Growing Pains – Tips on Handling Teens Who Don’t (or Won’t!) Come Around Anymore by Mary T. Kelly, MA
Have you and your partner heard these words from a defiant teenager who no longer wants to go back and forth between two homes and only wants to live with his mom? “I don’t want to live here anymore!” If so, the two of you are not alone.
Let’s be honest here. If you have stepkids who are difficult teenagers, for you this may be a blessing in disguise. But for your partner—their father—it’s devastating. It’s tough enough for your partner to only have custody of his kids part-time. Finding out he has a kid who has no desire to live with him is like a punch in the gut.
Teenage stepchildren aren’t known for being easy. There are biological reasons behind the challenging nature of teens. David Dobbs wrote a great piece for “National Geographic” magazine in 2011, which is an excellent resource for understanding how their minds work from a scientific perspective (search “Beautiful Teenage Brains”).
Suffice it to say, their brains are hardwired to challenge, question, rebel and experiment. It’s a time for them to really start individuating themselves from their families so they can eventually learn to be independent.
Of this particular developmental cycle, neuroscientist B.J. Casey, PhD, says, “The last thing you want to tell your teenager is what to be interested in—because then they’ll go as far from it as possible.” This includes telling them what to do at all times.
Kids of divorce learn to go back and forth between homes. When they become teenagers, it isn’t unusual for a teenager to decide to live at only one home. The reasons are varied. …To read the rest of this article and learn what to do if your stepkids don’t come around anymore, log in to your account and download the January 2016 issue. Don’t have an account? Click here to subscribe.