Stepfamilies and second families

Joining a stepfamily can be a big change. It might mean moving in with new people or having step-brothers or sisters. It can take time to adjust but we can help.

life in a stepfamily

Every family is different. A stepfamily is when two families come together. Sometimes you'll live with your stepfamily, but not always.

Sometimes joining a stepfamily can be really exciting. You might look forward to getting closer to your new stepparent or stepsiblings. But it's also okay to be worried about the future.

If you're joining a stepfamily, you might be worried about:

  • getting to know your stepfamily
  • losing touch with your other parent and that side of the family, or feeling like you're betraying them
  • not feeling like you're part of the family
  • moving home or school
  • not getting on with your stepfamily, even after a long time
  • people seeing your family as different.

If you're having problems adjusting, we've got some advice to help.

3 things to remember:

  • it can take time to adjust to your new family
  • it can help to talk about how you feel
  • every family is different, and it's natural for families to change.

settling into a new stepfamily

Changes in your family can be stressful. You might be worried about having to do things differently or about getting used to new people.

It's natural to feel scared or uneasy when there are lots of changes going on. But there are things you can do to help.

If things don't get better

Learning to cope with new family members can take time. But sometimes it can feel like things will never improve.

If you're struggling at home it's important to talk about it. Talking without arguing can help you to think of new ways to cope and can let people see how you're feeling.

Even if you can't talk to your family, you can talk a Childline counsellor about anything that's happening.

Find out more about coping with family problems.

Feeling proud of your family

Your family is a big part of who you are. And every family setup is different. There's no type of family that's better or worse than another.

If you're feeling self-conscious about your family it can make it tough telling people about it. But there are ways to feel confident:

  • Ask your friends about their family and tell them what's different in yours
  • Talk to your family about how to answer questions you're unsure about, and remember that you don't need to answer questions that make you uncomfortable
  • Speak to your teacher about doing things in school to celebrate different families

If you're nervous, it could help to visit our message boards and chat to other young people about what makes them feel proud of their family.