Fair   63.0F  |  Forecast »

Helping Teens Adjust to a New Sibling

Being parent to a later-in-life child can be tricky when you've already got older kids. Here's how moms and dads can help in the transition

Two years ago, when then-13-year-old Hava Goldberg of Southfield found out her mother was going to have another baby, she was thrilled. One of five children, Hava was only 6 years old when her last sibling was born.

"It was weird to think about having another little kid in the house," she admits. But she couldn't wait to pamper the new baby.

It can be a tricky topic. Parenting resources are brimming with tips on how to help toddlers and young children adjust to a brand new baby, but what about older kids? Many teens occupy a world where their parents are already embarrassing, even without the baby bump and added enthusiasm in anticipation of an impending newborn.

How can parents help their burgeoning young people adjust to a new sibling?

A growing trend

American women are increasingly choosing to have children later in life – and, often, spacing out their children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the birthrate for women 45 and older more than doubled between 1990 and 2002, and birthrates for women ages 40-44 are the highest in more than three decades.

Among women who had their second child between the ages of 35 and 44, 21 percent had a birth spacing of 11 years or more, according to the National Survey of Family Growth. That equals a lot of teens welcoming a new sister or brother to the family!

What to expect

First of all, be prepared for any reaction, says Dr. Daniel Klein, a psychologist at the Child and Family Solutions Center in West Bloomfield. "Teens may react in a variety of ways – with excitement, disbelief or shock. Parents must give them time to think and prepare," he says. "And don't take hostile or unsure emotions personally." An unwelcome attitude can change.

Dena Brodman was 15 when she discovered she'd become a big sister again. "She was not a happy child when she heard a new baby was coming," says her mother, Michelle Brodman. "She was defiant. But once the baby was born, she did a 180. She babysat; she helped out; she changed diapers. She even told me when Noa needed new clothes."

Adolescents are looking for independence, but still need the support of their parents. Mom and dad must maintain an open dialogue with the teen.

"Teens may isolate themselves or pull away by acting out," says Klein.

Helping with the change

It's a good idea for parents to set aside alone time with their teen, such as a dinner and movie, or a day at the mall. "Parents need to make time for their other kids in the same way they need to make time for their own relationship," Klein adds.

Parents also can get their teens excited about a new sibling by involving them in planning, like picking out a name or designing the baby's room. As difficult as it is, Klein suggests parents not make assumptions about babysitting. "Some parents may want to pay their children for babysitting, but for many families, especially larger ones, helping out is part of life."

Hava's sister, Michal Goldberg, was 11 when their new baby sibling arrived. "At first, we only had to help a little, but we watch him more now because he's more likely to get in trouble," she says of 2-year-old Naftali.

The embarrassment factor

Dealing with friends also can be a challenge for some teens, who may be embarrassed by the undeniable confirmation that mom and dad are sexual people. Talking things through with the teen is the surest way to help them through the transition.

Remember: With open communication and patience, even unsure teens will likely come around – and everybody will adore the new bundle of joy.

Jul 12, 2011 10:18 pm
 Posted by  r.mann

starting over...adolesents and starting a new family

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

What to Eat and What to Avoid During Pregnancy

What to Eat and What to Avoid During Pregnancy

Cravings or not, there are some things you just can't indulge in when you're a mom-to-be. Dr. Samuel Bauer of Beaumont Health Systems provides insight and information.

Benefits of Kids Learning an Instrument

Benefits of Kids Learning an Instrument

With many schools eliminating or downsizing their music curriculum, it's still important for kids to be exposed to music.

Mushroom Recipes for a Family Meal

Mushroom Recipes for a Family Meal

Mushrooms can be a tough sell with picky eaters but these dishes will entice them to try a bite – or two!

Tennessee Law Prevents Parents from Giving Child a Hybrid Last Name

Tennessee Law Prevents Parents from Giving Child a Hybrid Last Name

Carl Abramson and Kim Sarubbi mashed together their surnames for their first two kids, but Tennessee law says they can't use the last name 'Sabr' for baby No. 3.

Sticky Fingers Duct Tape Book Offers Easy Bow Making How-To

Sticky Fingers Duct Tape Book Offers Easy Bow Making How-To

Sophie Maletsky's new guide, published by Zest Books, is packed with fun crafts and DIY ideas kids and families can make out of colorful duct tape.

Paper Craft Fun with Handprints, Garland and Kawaii Art

Paper Craft Fun with Handprints, Garland and Kawaii Art

This versatile craft material transforms into an acorn fall creation, decorative ribbon, cute Japanese critters and cool dividers for your kid's closet.

How to Prevent Your Child from Choking

How to Prevent Your Child from Choking

Mealtime can turn from pleasant to panic in a matter of seconds. Protect your child from this mishap with our list of dos and don’ts.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement