Stepparent Survival Tips

We live in an age of constant change. Traditional lifestyles are no longer common, and the American family has been transformed. Recent statistics report that 90 percent of Americans marry, 50 percent of these marriages end in divorce and another 65 percent of those who have divorced, remarry. In 1980, one-third of all marriages were remarriages.

With this high number of remarriages, there has been an increase in the number of stepparents. Stepparenting may bring many opportunities for growth, but it also brings its share of challenges. Here are some suggestions that may help avoid some of the pitfalls of life as a stepparent.

  1. The marital relationship comes first.

  2. It takes time for each member to adapt to a new family.

  3. Be patient and understand that loyalty to the new family takes time.

  4. Pay attention to and work through the wounds from the past marriage.

  5. Maintain positive relationships with ex-spouses. Don't make negative comments about them in front of the children.

  6. Be sure that the children feel welcome in their new home.

  7. Listen to the children.

  8. Recognize the developmental needs of children of different ages.

  9. Teach children problem-solving skills.

  10. Develop new family traditions without abruptly changing the old ones.

  11. Hold family meetings. Encourage participation and open communication.

  12. Don't allow children to carry messages between the natural parents.

  13. Encourage children to establish strong relationships with both natural parents and their new family members.

  14. Parents must agree on discipline:

  • Make friends with stepchildren before attempting to discipline them

  • Remember, the child's natural parent should do the disciplining in the early stages of building the new family

Seek outside counseling if necessary. If you are a stepparent with counseling needs, please call for help.