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Are stepfamilies the new norm? (PART 2)

In our last post we discussed the changing dynamics of families in the United States. With two out of three individuals having a step-relative, it can be important to know how to make these family units work.

Most importantly, it is crucial that children are prioritized in this type of family. Parents need to have patience with their children and give them time to adjust to the new family structure. Having a stepparent brought into the picture can be extremely difficult for some children.

It is also important that boundaries are set and that stepparents understand their role in the family. Whenever possible, the biological parent should do the disciplining. New parents should not compete with the children for time with their new spouse, but they should also not be minimized or demonized just because they are stepparents. Anyone who has been a stepparent understands that it is a balancing act.

Finally, it is most important to realize that these kinds of families take time to develop. While ideally people would love to blend their families quickly and with no issues, it can take four to six years for the new dynamics to evolve and for everyone to adjust to the new concept of family.

While introducing a stepparent into the lives of children may seem like a daunting task, with the right strategy, patience and effort, it can be a rewarding process for all those involved. Challenges may definitely come up along the way, but through communication and patience these can be overcome.

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