Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Helping Son Adjust to New Marriage

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I am a single parent of an eight-year-old boy. I am getting married next month, and I am afraid he will have a hard time adjusting. We have always lived with my parents and will be moving out when I get married. What can I do to make the change easier for him?

A: It will be normal for your son to undergo some difficulty adjusting to a new home and family life with you and his stepfather. He has known only a life with his grandparents and you -- it has always been the four of you. I hope that your future husband has attempted to cultivate a caring relationship with your son. It would not be surprising if your son blames your boyfriend for turning his life upside-down and causing him to feel somewhat lost and insecure.

I recommend that you not introduce many new routines into your son's life. Allow him to create the kind of bedroom he wants. Maintain the same daily routines. Be careful to spend at least as much one-on-one time with him, if not a little more, as you did before. Do everything you can to reassure him that your relationship with him is as strong and special as ever. As much as you may be tempted to slack off in the discipline department, he needs you to be the primary love and authority figure in his life. Your new husband should not be placed in a role that only you should occupy.

And lastly, try to maintain as much close contact with your parents as is healthy and possible. If your son has developed a close relationship with them throughout his life, he should not be made to feel that this closeness has come to an end because of your marriage. Stay connected to his emotions by asking him open-ended questions: "What's changed the most for you? Do you like our new apartment/house? What are you looking forward to the most when we move into our own place? Are you nervous or scared about the move?" As long as you put yourself in his shoes, you'll be tuned in to making this transition and his new life a good one.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks


3 Fun Thanksgiving Games for Kids
Looking for some great Thanksgiving games to play with your kids? Print our free Pin the Feathers on the Turkey game, Pin the Hat on the Pilgrim game, and Thanksgiving Parade Bingo game for loads of laughs this Turkey Day!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top Family Movies in Theaters for the Holidays
Taking the kids to the movies is a special family treat for the holidays! Don't miss 2014's best family films in theaters from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!