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On Parenting
Posted at 04:20 PM ET, 01/17/2012

A stepson comes between a blended family: Advice from Marguerite Kelly

From elsewhere in The Post: A stepmother wants her adult stepchildren to view her and her children as integral parts of their blended family. She’s not sure if one stepson, in particular, is willing to embrace his new kin and asks Marguerite Kelly for advice.

“One of my stepsons tried to make my husband choose between them and our family, and he did it not once but twice. Last year, he invited us to dinner on Christmas Eve, but he didn’t ask my children, even though they get along fine and they had nowhere else to go. We had a brief lunch with his sons instead, but it really hurt my feelings since I try so hard to keep up the traditions of both of our families,” says the letter writer.

“This year the same son invited his father and me — but not my children — to Thanksgiving dinner, saying that he and his wife wanted to start a new tradition.”

Kelly says this child, as well as the whole family, could benefit from seeing a therapist.

“All eight of you need to see a family therapist, both together and individually, so you can learn how to look at the world from one another’s perspective, as well as your own. An experienced clinician — whether she’s a psychologist, a social worker or a licensed counselor — will ask you the kinds of questions you don’t dare to ask each other, and she will help you express the suspicions that you’ve been keeping to yourself,” says Kelly.

She also tells the letter writer that her stepsons may be struggling to cope with their changing family structure.

“It’s true that your stepsons acted poorly, but their behavior wasn’t all about you; it was all about them,” says Kelly. “These young men were probably in their teens when their mother left home, and if they’re like most children of divorce, they’ve felt embarrassed and rejected ever since. Children hate to be different from their friends, especially in adolescence, and many of them hate to share their parents, too.”

Kelly will host a live Web chat Thursday at noon. Submit your parenting questions here.

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By On Parenting  |  04:20 PM ET, 01/17/2012

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