Dear Aunt Lisa,
I recently mɑrried a wonderful woman who is twelve years older than me. Our relɑtionship is l0ving and fulfilling, her two teenage children (aged 16 and 18) are refusing to accept me as their stepfather.
They still call me by my first name and resist any attempts I make to have a closer relɑtionship with them. They only see me as their mother’s husbɑnd, not a parental figure in their lives. This upsets both me and my wife as we had hoped our joining would become a happy family.
My wife has spoken to the children several times about showing me more respect and accepting me as their father, but they continue to push back. They claim I’m too young to be their “dad” and that their real father cannot be replaced.
My wife and I would appreciate any advice you have for navigating this difficult situation. How can I gain my stepchildren’s acceptance and form a closer bond with them in a way that feels natural and genuine? I l0ve my wife dearly and want our family to come together harmoniously.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Aunty Lisa Responds:
Dear Struggling Stepdad,
It’s understandable that you wish to have a close relɑtionship with your stepchildren. However, trying to force the “dad” title on teenagers who just met you is unlikely to work.
The most important thing is to give them time and continue showing l0ve, patience and respect. Focus on building trust gradually through small gestures and activities you share together. Invite them to their favourite restaurants or activities without pressuring them to see you as a father figure.
When they’re ready, they may feel comfortable calling you “dad.” But don’t push the issue or take their reluctance personally. Your role is to be a kind, l0ving and supportive presence in their lives – the title is secondary.
Be patient and let an authentic bond develop naturally over time. Continue including your wife in family activities and expressing care for her children. Eventually, your stepchildren will likely come to see you as a parental figure in their own way, in their own time.
The most important things are l0ve, consistency and patience. Keep the lines of communication open and continue demonstrating you have their best interests at heart. With time and care, a closer bond is achievable.
I wish you the very best navigating this journey. Building blended families is never easy, but with l0ve, patience and understanding, harmony is possible.