My aunt and I have been through similar situations.  Her dad and mine both lost their wives (our mothers) too soon.  Her dad and mine have both remarried.  We are both suddenly being thrust into the world of being adult stepchildren, and having having both been on the other side of the table, you would think it would be easier.

While neither of us have handled it perfectly (I threatened not to go to my dad’s wedding; she accused her dad of being crazy; we both felt our fathers were acting somewhat stupidly), we have both learned a great deal about how not to handle the situation.

Advice for parent and impending stepparent of adult child

Ok, we’re grownups.  And you don’t owe us any kind of explanation whatsoever about how you choose to live your lives.  We are being selfish.  Please realize that you are the only parent we have left, and regardless of how long ago our other parent died, it is still difficult for us to think about losing (or even sharing) you, even if that’s what makes you happy.

Don’t make it harder – don’t threaten to withhold your love or disown us or exclude us from your life just because we’re having a tough time accepting your plans.  Try to be understanding.  We know we should be done grieving and happy to see you happy…just give us time to get there.

Understand that our children (your grandchildren) still want to have a special place in your life, even if your new spouse also has kids and grandkids who will be demanding your attention.

Advice for adult stepchildren

Try to put yourself in your parent’s shoes.  Whether your mom or dad is widowed or divorced, life alone is just not something many people contemplate.  If your parent has found someone who makes him or her happy, accept that.  The more you support your parent, the more likely it is that you will be included in his or her new life.

Realize that while it has been convenient to have your single parent at your beck and call, that you have a life of your own and quite often, your mom or dad is not included in that life.  Your parent needs to still feel like an individual with a life of his or her own – and that may mean you have to let go a little more than you might be ready to.

Advice for both

Please don’t think the worst of each other or exchange words in anger.  Don’t go out of your way to say or do hurtful things.  Give space when needed, but still try to maintain your relationship.  Set boundaries for each other if you need to, but remember, you’re still family.

Get Shadra’ s book, Stories From a StepMom, available on Amazon Kindle.