By Emily Webb Olsen
More than 40% of American adults have at least one step relative in their family. Numbers also show that fewer than 46% of U.S. kids are living in a home with two heterosexual parents in their first marriage.* These changes have had an impact on how U.S. families are now parenting.
Blended families can prove to be difficult at times for children, adults, and other members of the extended family; however, there is evidence that the many layers that accompany a blended family can provide strong connections and lasting relationships.
Below are tips for navigating common areas of struggle:
Whether we want to or not, we bring wounds and unmet needs from our previous relationship into our current relationship. Couples counseling and individual counseling can help focus on areas we need for growth and healing.
Set clear boundaries that you and your current spouse agree on and follow through with set boundaries.
Clear consistent limits across all households is a solid way to discipline. Discipline is closely connected with attachment. Stepparents must work on building an attachment with a stepchild to set limits.
Open communication and clear boundaries across households.
It’s helpful to understand that a stepchild is going to feel loyal to their biological parent and that has nothing to do with you. In fact, the more you can learn to not take it personally, the better.
Stepparents can often feel unsupported and unheard by their spouse or their stepchildren, especially if they have a history of childhood or adult trauma. If you’re a stepparent, and you’re feeling unheard or unsupported, seek out individual or couples counseling that specializes in family conflict/divorce.
If you’re seeking attachment strategies to help foster attachment with your stepchild, there are therapies that focus on attachment building as well. There are many supports available! Click here to learn more about our counseling services.
*Source: The Pew Research Center