Step Brothers And Sisters
Carly Raby (Participation Manager) gives expert video advice on: I don't know which step family to spend Christmas with - how do I decide?; Can I ask both my families to spend Christmas together?; I hate my younger step sibling - how can I overcome this? and more...
Will it ever get easier to divide my time between my two families?
It's really difficult to divide your time between two families and, essentially, when your parents do split up and get together with other people, there is suddenly a lot more people for you to spend your time with. It's difficult and you do have to plan how to coordinate everybody to make sure they're all seeing enough of everybody else. I don't know if that gets easier. Hopefully, your parents will come to the point where they're communicating better and they're getting on, possibly as friends at some point. They will then, hopefully, make it as easy as it can be to work together and make things as easy as possible.
I like my step sister but my real sister doesn't. How can I get them to become closer?
It's difficult if your sister doesn't get along with your step sister and you do. Obviously, just like being friends with people, there will be things you like about people that your sister won't like about people and you don't have to both like the same person. It might not be that she doesn't like her, but that she's dealing with really difficult emotions about your parents separating in the first place and having a step family at all. And if you feel that that's the case, then it's important for her to get support for herself. You could give her some advice line numbers or show her some websites or get family and friends to have a little chat with her about how she might be feeling. But it might just be that she doesn't click with the personality of your step sister and you do. So, it doesn't mean you both have to like her. You can agree to disagree.
I don't feel close to my step siblings because they're much older than me - what can I do?
If you don't feel close to your step relatives, that might change over time. If they're a lot older than you, then there are lots of bonuses about having older siblings, and they might find it nice to have younger siblings later on, rather than right now. They're not people that you've grown up with, and essentially you're having to get to know people, and possibly live with them very quickly from not having ever met them before. So, it's very difficult transition, and it might take time to get used to them, and to get to know what benefits there are going to be of having older siblings, as well as for them to get used to the benefits of having a younger sibling. So, I think that will just take time.
Can I ask both my families to spend Christmas together?
Different families are at different stages when they get divorced. Some parents get divorced and stay really good friends from very early on and are happy to spend Christmases and birthdays together with their children because they're still parents of those children; some people get divorced and never speak to each other again, and are hostile and still fight years and years later. It really depends how well your parents and step families get on, and how comfortable they would be spending Christmas or birthdays in the same space as each other. You could have a discussion with them and see how comfortable they would be doing it, but when it's special things like birthdays or Christmas, everyone needs to feel comfortable, and it might be more comfortable to spend it apart than together.
My step mum has just had my dad's baby - why do I resent the baby?
You can have really confusing feelings when your stepmum has a new baby. It's a whole different family from your dad just havin gyour and being your dad. He's suddenly becoming the dad of another family that's not everything to do with you, and with somebody who isn't your mum. And that's a very difficult thing to get your head around. It's really natural to feel jealous. It's really natural to feel that you're not part of things as much as you would like to be. And because your dad will be celebrating the birth of his new child, he might also not be quite ready to hear how you're feeling so it's really important to get help from someone else, to talk to someone independent and to phone sort of a helpline like Childline to really talk through the feelings you're having and how to cope with them. Hopefully, when you feel able to, you can discuss how you're feeling with your dad and he'll be supportive and be able to talk you through it and reassure you that he certainly still loves you and it doesn't put you any further away from him now that he's got a new family, that you're both part of his lives.
My dad has married my best friend's mum. How will this affect my relationship with my friend?
It's tricky when a parent get's together with a friend's parent. Sometimes that really can divide friends because they feel that they don't want to be as close as that, or they might not want to live together, or it might be a lovely thing and bring friends closer together. It really depends on how well you get on with your friend, how well you get on with your friend's mum, and how comfortable you feel about them all being together. It also depends largeley on how long your parents have been separated, and how you felt about them going their separate ways, and how your dad and your friends mum have got together. If you do need to talk to someone independently, then you must do that and make sure that you're staying emotionally okay and your needs are being met, and it might not always be the best thing to do to talk to your friend directly about how they're feeling because you're involved in the same situation and she might be, or he might be, more protective of their mum and you're obviously going to be more protective of you dad, so if you're having difficulties with each other's parents it might be better to get help outside of that friendship to find ways to deal with it.
My step sister is nice to me in public but bullies me in private - what should I do?
If your step sister is being nice in public but bullying you in private, it's really important to get the same sort of help as you would expect to get if you're being bullied by anybody. Bullying in any way is unacceptable and if you're being treated badly by your step sister it's important to get help from someone who'll make sure that it stops straight away. That might be your parent. That might be someone outside of the situation, someone at school for example. But someone does need to talk to your step sister and make sure it's not okay to treat you like that and it needs to stop right now.
I don't want to share a bedroom with my stepsister - what can I do?
If you don't want to share a bedroom with your step sister, this really depends on the size of your house and how easy it is for you to have rooms of your own. It might be possible if you talked to whoever you are living with to have a room of your own and not share a room with your step sister if you don't get on. But it might be that you have to share a room because there aren't enough rooms for you really to make that choice. You need to be really clear about what the problems are with you sharing a room with your step sister and if there is anything that can be done to make that easier. And if there isn't, then you need to look at what different options there are to you apart from sharing.