Recognize the Challenge and Be Successful In Stepfamilies

Edited by Debbie, Charmed, Eng, Rose B and 3 others

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One out of every six children under the age of 18 in the U.S. is a stepchild experts say. There is a good chance you or your friends live in a step-family. If that is the case, then you know the pressures of adjusting is not easy. Often how you view a situation can make a difference. You can choose being miserable, or try your best to have the right attitude. Let's go over some challenges that step-families face and the steps that have helped many to lead a happy life.

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Many people go into their step-family marriage with high expectations. Parents hope to prevent or to fix mistakes that were made in their prior marriage and to find the love and security they feel they didn't have. Some hopes may be little more than fantasies, but any that go unsatisfied can cause stress. When when your expectations are met, this can be hard to deal with.

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What You Can Do Don't keep your feelings inside hoping that the disappointment will go away. Think about the unmet expectation that frustrated you. Next, think about why you expect this, so you can understand why you can't let go of it. Finally, try to find a more realistic belief for now. Here are some examples.

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1. From the start, I will love my stepchildren and they will love me. Why? I have always dreamed of being in a warm close family.

More practical In time, our love for one another will flourish. What matters now is that we can feel safe and respected in our family.

2. Everyone in the new family will adjust quickly. We are ready for a fresh start.

More practical Step-families normally take between four and seven years to develop. Our issues are very normal.

3. We won't argue about money. Our love will help us to stay away from insignificant arguments.

More practical Financial issues related to our prior marriages are difficult. We may not yet be ready to pool together all of our money.


Problems will occur in step-families, so you may want to act quickly to solve them. You would want to act effectively, but first, you must understand your family. It is important to think about how you communicate. Do you tear others down? Or do you build them up? WHAT YOU CAN DO

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  • Be curious and sympathetic about each other's feelings rather than judging. If your son says that he misses Dad, acknowledge his loss. Instead of telling him his stepfather loves him, and is a better father, show you care, and ask him what he misses most about his Dad.

Instead of being critical with your new spouse telling him that his son wouldn't be so rude if he had been a better parent, share how you feel. You could ask him politely if he could remind his son to say hello to you when he enters in the room.

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  • Use your time together for meals, recreation, and worship to learn about each other.
  • Have regular meetings together, and make sure everyone is present. Each member can speak about something good about the new family, and express if he has any concerns. Show respect even if you oppose, and let everyone suggests a solution.


The fear of being a stranger in your own family can be at the root of seemingly impertinent troubles. For example

  • Children who got along with a potential stepparent before the marriage tend to struggle afterward.
  • A stepparent becomes envious of a six year old.
  • Big arguments will erupt about unimportant household matters.

This issue will affect biological parents too, since they can feel pressured if the step-family seems to be drifting apart.


  • Put your marriage first. Spend time with your new mate, and make his or her status in the family clear to your children. Fathers could talk to their children before they remarry, and tell their children that they love this person, and you want them to please be polite to them.
  • Make time alone with each of your children. This shows them how important they are to you, and will let them know how much you love them.
  • Allow children to join the family without giving up their prior family. It is usually best not to ask stepchildren to use terms of affection such as 'Mom or "Dad".
  • Give each child work to do, a seat at the table, and a space of their own in the home.
  • Think about moving into a new place or adjusting the existing home, so that new members do not feel like intruders.


Why might taking care of the children cause conflict in a step-family? Discipline might have become lax in a single parent household. When the stepparent joins the family, the emotional devotion to the children may not be fully formed. The result is that the stepparent may think that the parent is too soft on the children, while the biological parent feels that the stepparent it to harsh on them. We need to have balance when training our children. We want to concentrate on training the child's thinking rather than controlling his actions. At the same time, parents want to be loving and kind so their discipline isn't irritating to the children.

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  • Make house rules, starting with those you already have.
  • Avoid using too many rules or changing routines too quickly. What may seem like a simple request to a stepparent can be a burden to a child who feels like his entire world has been turned upside down. Of course, some new rules will be needed, such as privacy within the home, and a dress code, especially if there are older children in the household.
  • Discuss disagreements in privacy, not in front of the children. Pay attention to the child's specific behavior rather than on some supposed flaw in earlier training.


Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • Take time for communication with your mate. Spend some alone time together.
  • Don't criticize your spouse over family issues. Treat each other with respect.
  • If you are having troubles working together as a family, seek therapy guidance.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Family

Recent edits by: Lynn, Jonathan, Rose B

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