Men and women relationships alone are difficult. When you add his kids, her kids, his ex, her ex and the in-laws, most people cannot handle the pressure. Stepfamilies require more effort and understanding because there are more people involved. This often includes young ones who didn't ask to be put into the situation to begin with.

Stepparenting today

Long ago, the terms stepmother and stepfather were used to describe the new parent who stepped in after the real parent's death. Today the stepparent is less often a substitute than he is an added parent.

Parenting can be one of the most rewarding things we do in our lives. It can also be one of the most difficult undertakings; and parental responsibility is not a responsibility we can take lightly. Taking on the role of stepparent can, perhaps be the most difficult undertaking of all.

Being a parent triggers memories and emotions from your own childhood, whether conscious or unconscious. This may or may not bring fear when thinking about raising another person's child. Parents may raise children in a way similar to their own upbringing, or may strive to give their children an entirely different upbringing.

Stepparenting can be a challenge

It can be difficult to talk about stepparenting in general terms because each situation varies. Finding yourself as a stepdad or stepmom to a child under 3 years is easier than coming into an established family with several children ranging in age from 4 to 16. Stepparenting those age 17 and beyond also has its unique challenges.

Stepparents find raising stepchildren involves, not only difficulties with the child or children involved, but also potential conflict with your partner, their ex-partner and an internal struggle with yourself. Where differences may arise between you and a stepchild, you will inevitably be confronted with, "Why should I listen to you, you are not my father," or something similar.

The role of stepparent

When conflict arises with your partner over a parenting decision, you might find yourself being demoted to the position of a second-class parent and find yourself caught between your partner and the child or with both siding against you.

The manner in which you approach the role of parent or stepparent and the attitude you put forth will differ from those around you. You must pay particular attention to your actions so as to not alienate yourself from your partner or the children.

Blending as a stepfamily

Most everything you read about stepparenting has to do with evil stepmothers, obnoxious children, responsibility with no control, resentful ex-partners and lack of worth or appreciation. But do not be discouraged, because there is a better side to stepfamilies. Stepfamilies, when working together, can work even better than the original family units that made them.

Things to take into consideration when blending a family are:

  • finances

  • living arrangements

  • holidays

  • grandparent responsibilities

  • and legal ramifications

Adjustment time

Most changes to a family structure require adjustment time for everyone involved. When families blend to create stepfamilies, things rarely progress smoothly. A few children may resist the changes occurring, while parents may become frustrated or disappointed when the new family does not appear to function like their previous family.

With the right guidance and realistic expectations, most blended families are able to work out their growing pains and live together successfully. To create a healthy blended family you need:

  • open communication

  • positive attitudes

  • mutual respect

  • and plenty of love and patience

In conclusion, getting into a stepfamily can be rewarding and will make for new adventures. As with every new adventure, hold on tight because there will be bumps along the way but the ride will be spectacular.

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