The Impact of Half-Siblings on Your Stepchild

Age, relationship with parents, and living arrangements all affect the impact a half-sibling will have on your stepchild. If your stepchild is quite young, he probably does not have an understanding of what a half-sibling is, and will adjust to the sibling as he would any other sibling. If your stepchild lives with you, the acceptance of the half-sibling will be easier. If your stepchild does not live with you, you may find that he needs time to adjust to his half-sibling every time he visits. As your stepchild ages, if he doesn't live with you he may start to feel jealous or wonder what goes on in your family when he is not there. If he is acting out when he comes or very anxious about coming or going to your home, try and find out what is going on in his head. Does he think you love his half-sibling more because she lives there? Is he afraid you forget about him when he is not there? Address these issues and keep in touch with him between visits so he knows he is loved and thought of consistently.

Impact on Adolescent Stepchildren

Adolescents will understand the idea of a half-sibling and will probably have an opinion of the new child based upon the opinion they hold of the parent having the child. If your stepchild hates your partner, he may project that hate onto your child and not be very happy about the child. This may actually be easier if the adolescent is not living with you. If your stepchild is living with you and is struggling with the addition of a half-sibling, he may be forced to get over his anger or dislike since he is stuck in the situation. This is the age where it is very important to have open discussions about not hating his half-sister because he hates you or your partner. He shouldn't hold anger against an innocent child who is just as much a bystander in the situation as he is.

Impact on Adult Stepchildren

Young adults and adults are often busy and getting their own lives going, which can help distract them from any negative feelings they may have about their parent having another child. However, this situation has its own difficulties when it comes to a sibling bond. Instead of trying to force your stepchild to bond with your biological child as a sibling, you may find they develop more of an uncle/nephew type of relationship, which is fine. Any relationship they can build is positive and will hopefully keep them connected as they grow. If your adult stepchild is very angry about the situation, he may have a tough time seeing your partner starting another family.

I am pregnant and so is my stepdaughter. She is a little bit older than I am and not my biggest fan. How can I show my support for her as we go through our pregnancies?

It is understandable that she might be a little bit horrified that her father is having an intimate relationship with someone who she sees as too young. Try and focus on the fact that you are both enduring a life event together, and you may even be able to bond about it. You may e-mail or call to see how she is doing or send her books or articles you find helpful. Do not discuss any details about how her father is caring for you or any gripes; try and keep your conversation baby focused. Also, be sure to let her have her thunder, and encourage your partner to show his excitement over becoming a grandfather just as much as he shows excitement about becoming a father.

It may also be hard for your stepchild to see his parent having an intimate relationship with someone close to his age or even younger. Instead of worrying about your own relationship with your stepchild, promote the relationship between your stepchild and child. Send pictures, updates, and invite your stepchild to events that celebrate or include your child. He may become closer to you by becoming closer to his half-sibling. No matter what the situation is with your stepchild, help him keep his ideas about you and your partner separate from his feelings about your child.

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