Bonding with younger stepchildren vs. older stepchildren

Jeffrey Kluger, Author & Science Journalist, shares advice for stepparents on the differences in bonding with younger stepchildren vs older stepchildren
Blended Families | Bonding With Younger Vs Older Stepchildren
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Bonding with younger stepchildren vs. older stepchildren

There's a few reasons why it's easier for stepparents to bond with younger children than they do with older children. First of all, very young children require less subtle kinds of attention, as long as you're willing to tickle and talk and watch movies and be goofy and do all the easy stuff that adults can do with small kids. You put a lot of points on the board right away. So a young child will tend to bond pretty quickly with a stepparent. When a child is older than 10, particularly 11, 12, and 13, they're in the obligatory sort of eye-rolling, cynicism stage of early adolescence. So nothing is going to come easily with a pubescent or pre-pubescent child. And that certainly includes a relationship with a stepparent, particularly if the adolescent is traumatized by the fact that a divorce took place in the first place. Also, a stepparent simply has more years with a younger child; you have more years of slowly easing into that parental relationship. You have more years of establishing a rhythm in a blended household. And as a result, a young child has a much, much higher likelihood of developing a full child to parent relationship with a stepparent than a child who's 9-years old or older ever will.

Jeffrey Kluger, Author & Science Journalist, shares advice for stepparents on the differences in bonding with younger stepchildren vs older stepchildren


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Jeffrey Kluger

Science Journalist & Author

Jeffrey Kluger is a senior editor and writer at Time magazine, covering science, health and other fields. He is the coauthor, along with astronaut Jim Lovell, of Apollo 13, the book that served as the basis of the 1995 movie. His more-recent release, Splendid Solution, told the story of Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine.  His novel, Nacky Patcher and the Curse of the Dry-Land Boats, was published in June 2007, and his newest nonfiction book, Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex, was published in June 2008.

Before coming to Time, Kluger worked for Discover magazine, where he was a senior editor and humor columnist. Prior to that, he was health editor at Family Circle magazine, story editor at The New York Times Business World Magazine, and Associate Editor at Science Digest magazine. His features and columns have appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Gentlemen's Quarterly, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Omni, McCall's, New York Magazine, The New York Post, Newsday, and, of course, Time. He has worked as an adjunct instructor in the graduate journalism program at New York University; is a licensed—though non-practicing—attorney; and is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore School of Law. He lives in New York City with his wife Alejandra and their daughters, Elisa and Paloma.

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