Blended Families: Help! I’m stuck between my son and my new husband.

Welcome to Tips on Teens. Let's jump right into today's submitted parent question. Hi. Hello.
I have a 10 -year -old son and I'm newly remarried. I don't get along with my ex -husband one bit.
We agree on exactly nothing, but we share custody 50 -50. My new husband tries really hard to
be nice to my son and to bond with him, but when my son doesn't respond, he gets frustrated and
impatient. I feel like I'm stuck in the middle and I hate the tension. Any advice for me? Yes,
we do. But before we jump into that, let me introduce myself. I'm Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed
marriage and family therapist here in Woodland Hills, California. I specialize in helping
kids, teens and families live happier lives. If you ever have a question for a therapist, wanna
have a free phone consultation, please contact us. Our information is down in the caption below.
Let's jump into today's question. So we have a 10 year old little boy who is not really accepting
stepdad stepdad really wants to be accepted.

But it's creating all this frustration chaos. This revolves around three different emotional
needs your son's yours and your husband's. Let's start with your sons. Why? Why is he not accepting
stepdad could be any number of reasons why but you need to figure that out. That could be working
with a therapist or you may already know. Here are a few possible reasons. It's not an exhaustive
list, but these are very common things that I see in my practice. You've met your husband, it's
a whirlwind romance, it's wonderful, you finally feel respected and valued, and it's a wonderful
feeling, and you get married, but your son feels like he was kind of dragged along and didn't
really have any say in this. So if that's the case, that needs to be acknowledged and valued,
because he may see stepdad as your husband, but not my stepfather. And that needs to be addressed.
Could also be that stepdad is trying too hard. And he tries so hard that when your son doesn't
grab on to it, now your stepfather feels

rejected. And now there's all this pressure from you and stepdad. And your 10 year old son can't
handle that kind of pressure to satisfy your emotional needs. He's a 10 year old kid. Third,
he may feel possibly, whether it's an internal perception or external pressure from his dad,
that accepting stepdad is a betrayal of his father. And that's, again, you can't really control
what happens at his dad's house. You already said, you guys don't get along. I assume there may
be some parental alienation aspects going on. But again, that's an assumption from what little
I know, but something to consider. Regardless of any of this, my recommendation is that the
emotional needs for you and your husband need to be second to your sons in this because you guys
are the adults you guys have a fully developed adult brain your son does not have a fully developed
adult brain he's 10 so how do you do this I think you I would utilize the feral cat analogy I use
this quite a bit because I think it applies

to kids and teens a lot in these kind of situations. So if you have a feral cat in your backyard,
but you want to befriend this cat, you don't run after this cat with your hands out going kitty,
kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, right? You have to be patient. You sit outside with a food ten feet
away from you, patient, calm, not moving, not making a lot of sound, just being present, being
available. And eventually that cat comes closer and closer, has a little bit of food, runs off.
The next day, the food is nine feet away. a couple of days later, eight feet away, and slowly you
bring that food closer to you. And eventually, that cat is sitting in your lap and you're scratching
him under the chin. But it takes time. And it's about helping him feel safe, not about satisfying
your emotional needs of feeling validated by your son. This is not an easy thing to do. This takes
time and patience. But even if the father is bad -mouthing the stepdad, eventually your kid
will see the difference between,

while stepdad is always pretty cool and always patient and he's going to see the difference
between what he sees from stepdad and what dad father is saying that may take a while you need
to be patient therapy might help with this process but it's really up to you what you think the
emotional needs are for your child and your family another thing is it's possible while stepdad
may be the man of the house and he may be paying the bills or whatever that is he He may not be the
right person to be the authority figure for your son. And that may be hard to stomach, but it may
have to be you. You may have to be the primary authority figure and allow stepdad to just bond
and connect with him like an uncle, let's say. You know, I know they'll still be in the same house
and there'll have to be some rules, but I would encourage you, the mom, to be the primary authority
figure so stepdad can bond and connect with him. And what will happen is stepdad will be able
to influence your son in a positive

and healthy way instead of being an authority figure. Again, this is a much bigger concept that
we can really talk about in just a few minutes, but I'm scratching the surface here. I'd love
to talk to you more about this if you want to, you always give me a call. But anyways, that's my
approach to this. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit
501C3 organization, and child and teen counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California.
If you'd like me to answer your question here on Tips on Teens, email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter
.com or direct messages right here on social media. We love your questions, keep them coming.
Thank you very much and have a great week, guys. And oh, by the way, happy Juneteenth! Juneteenth,
woo -hoo! Bye -bye, guys.


If your child is struggling to accept your new spouse or partner, there could be various reasons behind their behavior. Every blended family is unique, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. However, based on our experience, here are some common reasons why a child might act out towards a new stepparent:

  1. Feelings of Betrayal: Your child might feel that accepting the new stepparent is a betrayal of their other parent. You have no control over what your ex might be saying about your new partner, and it’s not uncommon for the ex to contribute to the tension.
  2. Overzealous Efforts: Your new spouse might be trying too hard to win over your child, which can inadvertently repel them or, worse, give them a sense of power they are not mature enough to handle.
  3. Lack of Autonomy: Your child might feel they have no say in your choices or relationships. Since they view themselves as an important part of your life, this can be a difficult adjustment for them.

Here’s how you can begin to address this situation:

  1. Prioritize Your Child’s Emotional Needs: Understand that your emotional needs, and those of your partner, need to be secondary. Your child is not emotionally mature enough to handle responsibility for others’ emotions. Failing to recognize this can lead to worse consequences.
  2. Take it Slow: Encourage your new spouse to approach the relationship with patience. They should consider taking on a role more akin to a “cool uncle” rather than trying to be a new parent. Give your child time to warm up to the idea, which will happen eventually.
  3. Maintain Authority: You should remain the primary authority figure in your child’s life. This relieves your new spouse of the pressure to “act like a parent” and allows them to build a relationship with your child without the added stress.

By keeping these points in mind, you can help create a more harmonious environment for your blended family. We have more blended family videos on the Tips on Teens page. 

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.