Thriving In a Stepfamily

Understanding what your stepkids are thinking and why can bring strength to your family.

"Being a stepmom is much more difficult than I imagined," Nancy, a stepmom of four years shared with me. "Since my husband and I are excited about our marriage, we assumed the kids would be happy too. But they're really struggling and I'm not sure what to do."

As a stepmom of more than 24 years I understand her concerns. A few months into my second marriage I was discouraged by the complexities associated with being a stepmother of two boys aged 11 and 13. Learning how to function in a blended family has been a process for all of us. Along the journey we've discovered a few insights on how to succeed as a stepfamily.

Stepfamilies are Formed Out of Loss

According to research an estimated one-third of children will live in a stepparent home before the age of 18, and 50 percent will have a stepparent at some point in their lifetime. Whether death or divorce has disrupted the biological family, children often wrestle with the adjustment. The family unit typically provides a child with safety and security. However, the death of a parent or a family divorce is likely to induce insecurity and fear in a child's life. Nancy continues to explain, "After my husband and his former wife divorced, his kids moved to a different neighborhood plus had to change schools. They attend a new church causing them to lose good friends and a familiar routine. All of this loss has caused them to be angry and sad, and I'm an easy target for their grief."

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