In a stepfamily, previously married spouses decide to make a life together in a new, blended family that includes children from one or both previous relationships. Step parenting is both rewarding and challenging, but a blended family requires time to function well together.
Stepfamilies rarely take shape and progress smoothly. Children resist changes, and parents become frustrated when the blended family does not function like their first family. Creating a stepfamily requires adjustments from everyone involved. Parents and children in blended families must work out their growing pains.
Parents approach remarriage and a second (or third?) family with great joy and expectation, but children may not be as excited because they likely feel uncertain about the upcoming changes, particularly its effect on their relationships with their natural parents. Children may worry about living with new stepsiblings, whom they do not know, or ones they may not even like.
Stepparents should organize their blended family before the marriage takes place.
A blended family is not a replica of an original family, and it is not the ideal nuclear family. Trying to make it so makes for confusion, frustration, and disappointment. Stepparents should embrace the differences and build on the basic elements that make a successful blended family. Stepparents do not have what is called “couple time,” the way first marriages do; stepparents must parent from the start.
Everyone, parents and children, must be civil. Family members who can be civil are on the right track. Relationships must be respectful. This is not just referring to the kids’ behavior toward the adults. Respect should not be based on age, but based on the fact that everyone is family now.
After being blended for a time, the stepfamily grows; members spend more time together and feel closer.