New family units
Whether you're starting out as a member of a stepfamily, or a mate's mum has taken you under her wing, follow our five steps to settling into a new nest.
1. Accept the challenge
Moving into any new environment can be daunting. Often everyone else seems so settled and familiar with one another, which just serves to make you feel even more like the odd one out. But the fact is that feeling won't last. The key is not to give up on it just as soon as you've arrived, or make any judgements about how you'll fit in.
2. Take one day at a time
Think how it used to be when you started at a new school. Chances are you wanted to be best mates overnight with all the kids in the class. In reality, you probably got to know one or two people and then built up your friend-base slowly. The same principle applies to your new home life. Focus on one family member that you click with, and let them help you to get to know everyone else.
3. Pull your weight
It's great if everyone is making a big effort to help you feel at home, but don't take advantage. Make sure you show willing at the earliest opportunity - whether it's cooking a meal, washing up or running any kind of errand. Pull your finger out, and your new family will only hold you closer to their bosom.
4. Make time for yourself
People often don't realise that coping with any new situation can be stressful. Your senses work overtime, in a bid to fit in, which can make it hard to switch off and kick back. There's no slouching over breakfast to be had just yet, or scuttling from the bathroom wearing nothing but a well-placed flannel. All these everyday things will happen eventually, but until they do make sure you take some time out from this new family where you can simply be yourself.
5. Keep talking
As a new family member, you have a voice and the right to be heard. Everyone will want you to fit in, but you have to help yourself by speaking up about any worries. Even if you think people won't understand, just giving a voice to your thoughts can help get things in perspective. Don't be afraid to talk to those people who live under the same roof as you - in fact other stepchildren may well share your feelings. Just be aware that sometimes it's good talking to someone outside the situation, such as your other parent, a friend, tutor or work colleague.
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