Stepfamily: blended family or blender?

Blended family or blender? When you start a new stepfamily, you are not sure ifit is blended or blender. It is frightening at some points.


Step Family: Blended or Blender?

Joy Stevens

How  do  your start a blended family?

I’m  sure you have heard that over 50% of the children of the US are being raised in blended families now.

Have  you  also heard that children are the cause of  divorce  in over 50% of second/third marriages?

I  don’t think I know anyone whose life has not been  touched  in some way by a blended family.

And  we have all heard tales of the wicked stepmom or  the  overbearing stepdad.

But now it’s you. You’re soon to be a step-parent!

Frightening, isn’t it?

How  do  your start a blended family? Do you all join  hands and jump into the water, hoping everyone can swim.

That’s a good way to drown as a stepfamily.

The  most  important part of becoming a stepparent is  the  prior planning you and your partner do before the wedding.

First  and  foremost, the adults need to agree in  advance  about discipline.  Who, what, when, where, and how is a good  place  to start with your discipline plan.

Then agree on all acceptable behavior for children, including the rules  for  your  home and the consequences  of  breaking  those rules.

The second most important aspect of a blended family is that each adult  support  the other. No giving in or allowing  children  to manipulate  the rules. Manipulation and  inconsistency  guarantee that  you  will have a "blender" family instead  of  a  "blended" family.

After the adults are in agreement, it is time for the children to have  the new regime and the new rules explained to  them.

Parents  should discuss upcoming changes with their  children  in detail appropriate to their age. But it should be clear from  the beginning  that  the adults are deciding which  changes  will  be made.

You may both want to be present when this is discussed,  allowing the biological parent to do the talking. Or you may choose a one-on-one situation.

Stepparents  are  rarely made in heaven. In fact, there  will  be problems while affection and bonding are growing.

Therefore, the biological parent should explain to his/her  children,  that  although love is not necessary for  the  stepparent, respect and cooperation are mandatory. Clearly state that the new spouse is to be treated in a courteous manner.

If  you are the biological parent, explain that this is your  new husband or wife, not a potential father or mother. Tell them also that  if  love happens, that will be wonderful and make  you  and your new husband/wife very happy. But in the meantime, respect is the order of the day.




Every  blended  family has its ups and downs. From sullen teen-agers to former spouses who would never dream of cooperating with anyone, you’ll find life in a blended family is challenging.

Go slow. You will not be a family in one day or possibly even  in one year. Many experts say it can take three years or longer!

Persistence is the key. Stepfamilies are a long-term commitment.

If you cultivate patience, concentrate on the positive, and  keep your sense of humor, you,  too, can become an effective and loving stepmom or stepdad. But setting the ground rules first will go a long way to making your new family successful.

Additional information about stepparenting, stepfamilies.


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Returnto Stepparents Directory.

Book Review:  The Blended Family Sourcebook Book Review:  Blending Families
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