Are you struggling with step-parenting? Did you know that over 60% of divorced people remarry? And most of these couples had kids from their prior marriages. This means that today there are many step-families. This can be wonderful, and contrary to popular belief, if done well, children in blended families can be just as well adjusted as those from their original, primary family.
But step-parenting poses many challenges. Step-families struggle with the following:
1. Building a solid foundation of closeness and partnership. Time and attention is immediately split between each other and their children. Gone is the honeymoon phase as couples immediately have to deal making everyone comfortable and getting into new routines.
2. Parenting, parenting, parenting! Couples may fall deeply in love with each other, but their love is challenged by parenting issues. Couples struggle with parenting for a variety of reasons. One, they may not realize they have very different parenting styles. In a first marriage starting without children, couples tend to create a parenting style together. But in second marriages, many couples are coming together as seasoned pros, loyal to their own way of doing things (and so are their kids!).
Two, couples often underestimate how difficult it can be to parent children not their own. The challenges may come from the children have trouble adjusting to the new step parent's style or the children may just be upset that there's another parent involved period. For the step-parent, the truth is that it can be difficult to feel the same kind of love for a child not your own. Step-parents might find themselves more easily annoyed with their step-children and develop a tendency to either favor their own children or be more harsh with their step children (despite trying not to!!).
3. Dealing with the ex and all the divorce baggage. Divorces happen for a reason and usually there are differences in how ex spouses deal with money, children and just about everything else. Step-families may be struggling with tight budgets due to child support payments, or disruptions in schedules due to changes in the ex-spouse's schedule. Dealing with ex-spouses can be stressful and that strain carries over into the new relationship. To top it off, the new spouse may not be comfortable having to see or talk to the ex spouse.
If you are in a step-family and struggling with some or all of the above issues, seek help immediately! Second marriages with children are more likely to get divorced within the first five years if they don't tackle these issues head on. On the other hand, research also shows that families who make this transition successfully are happy, healthy and long lasting.
For more information and classes, check out this web site from a local colleague who's an expert on step-parenting.
If you would like to ask questions or schedule an appointment, call me at (720) 432-4409 or use the form below: