Step parenting, is it for you?
With stepfamilies becoming a large part of the population here in the United States and all over the world, you would think we would have more understanding on how to be a good stepparent. Knowing what role one will have to play when becoming a stepparent can be very difficult for all parties involved. Raising your own biological children is hard enough; now throw a few stepchildren into the mix and all hell breaks loose. Not literally, but some days it can feel like that. “Successful stepfamilies take a lot of work; adults will balance the sanity with the physical and psychological needs of children who are not biologically related” (Lord, 2009).
Some major findings about children living in blended families as reported (Kreider, 2005) fifteen percent of children (10.6 million) lived in blended families in 2001. About half of these children, 5.1 million, lived with at least one stepparent. Background- Stepfamily dynamics
Stepfamilies will face unique factors such as negotiating parenting roles between biological parents and stepparents. The relationship between stepparents and stepchildren can strain the quality of stepfamily couples. The dynamics of the cohabitating stepfamily may mimic married stepfamilies in the way in which family roles are assumed and in the financial and emotional contributions that are made to the other partners children. Thus cohabitating may face some of the challenges faced by married stepfamilies (Stepfamilies in the United States: A Fact Sheet, 2009). Stepfamilies differ from families in which both parents are the biological parents of the children because: (Stepfamilies in the United States: A Fact Sheet, 2009) •
Children are often members of two households.
Stepfamily members have different family histories.
Parent-child bonds are older than adult-partner (spousal) bonds. •
Stepfamilies begin after many losses and changes.
Legal relationships between stepparent and stepchild are ambiguous or nonexistent. (Stepfamilies in the United States: A Fact Sheet, 2009)
As divorce rates among couples with children has stabilized over the years, the children of these divorced parents and of single-parents has increased as more women are giving birth to children without being married or with the father of the child. Lord (2009) found that today between one-quarter and one-half of this country’s children under 18 (about 20 million kids) live in a divorced, step, or blended family situation. Forty-three percent of first marriages end in divorce; sixty-five percent of remarriages involve children of a prior marriage; and sixty percent of remarriages with kids ends in divorce. (Lord, 2009) This means there are approximately eleven million single parents thinking about remarriage and the possibility of stepparenting. Blended Families
When the decision is made to join two families into a blended family, you can only hope that everything is going to be great. Conflict will be minimal and you will all get along like a nuclear family. If you are lucky this will happen for the first couple of months. Common challenges for blended family parents vary from parent to parent but the following issues are common among most. (Penton, 2007) 1)
Being financially responsible for someone else’s children. This can cause you and your partner to have conflicts over how to handle money. 2)
Giving up control and care of personal and prized possessions. 3)
Being responsible for someone else’s children and the time that requires. 4)
Dealing with ex-partners. This is a very real complicating factor in managing a life with a blended family. 5)
Differences in family rituals.
Pre-existing family conflicts.
Loss of control of your house, rules, family culture, ect. 8)
You experience resentment and unkindness from the stepchildren even though you have been unfailingly kind and respectful. 10)
You don’t care for the other...
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