New Partners or Step-families

New Partners or Step-families
How will our teenage child respond if one, or both, of us have a new partner? 

A new partner may signify the end of your son or daughter’s hopes of a reunification between their parents and confirm that their family has changed for good.

Research tells us that it benefits children and teenagers if:

  • You wait until a new relationship is established before introducing your new partner to your teenage child.
  • You delay living with anyone else until your teenager has had some time to adjust to the separation.
  • New partners and their families are introduced sensitively and gradually.

Often, teenagers feel they cannot accept your new partner without feeling disloyal to their other parent. It will help if you can discuss this issue in advance with your former partner, so that they can provide support to your teenager in making the necessary adjustments.

Remember, your teenage child will need time and support to work through this additional family change. It will be important to set aside separate times to spend alone with them. Listen to what your teenager has to say without feeling you have to change their minds or agree with them.


Research tells us that support for children and teenagers may be just as vital at the time of forming new step-families as it is following separation. Your son or daughter will need help to blend into a new family structure.

Be realistic about what you expect from your teenager. Be patient. It will take time and support for them to fully accept the role a stepparent will play in their life.

 ‘this information is taken from the Parenting Positively series, a series of booklets by Barnardos that provides information and guidance to parents of children between the ages of 6 and 12. The aim is to help to create a positive, loving and supportive relationship between you and your child. Please see for further details’