The more you can accept and adapt to change, the better your chances of stepfamily success.
Stepfamilies are all about change! Already, children in this complex family have experienced the death or divorce of a parent, living in a single-parent family and, now in what some call a blended family. Many times, vast changes have happened to children rapidly—without them having serious support, or time, to grieve and adjust. If you believe that you've done your own grief work, pat yourself on the back; but if you haven't included your children in this important process of resolving their grief, their harbored feelings may be played out in your new stepfamily in negative ways. Projecting unresolved anger and sadness onto stepparents is common, but it makes the already challenging role of stepparent far more difficult and delays the developmental progress of the stepfamily.
Change is transformative—like the butterfly emerging from its cocoon. The more you understand change, accept and adapt to new family situations, the easier change becomes. As you move through the developmental process of building a stepfamily, try to avoid fearing change. Embrace it. Talk about how uncomfortable it feels for you. Your children may be confused by all the changes taking place and respond with misbehavior. Understand this as normal and realize they are testing your new remarriage. With this knowledge, your greatest task of effective discipline can become easier for all of you to accept.
For a safe journey on unknown terrain, experienced hikers wisely use an accurate trail map to guide them. Likewise, to move successfully through the predictable and challenging stages of your new stepfamily, you'll need guidance about the pitfalls and possibilities ahead as you build your new family. With the Stepfamily Journey "trail map," that guides you through the normal stages of stepfamily living, you'll be prepared to stay on course and succeed.
You can read more about the Stepfamily Journey process in Chapter 4 in Strengthening Your Stepfamily, available on this website. Click on bookstore page.
Because one, or both, partners in remarriage have children from former relationships, from the start, the stepfamily is different! These differences make it impossible to function exactly the same as in first families. Without this basic awareness, a lot of unnecessary suffering happens.
To succeed, this basic reality of understanding that you are a different kind of family must be accepted by everyone–inside and outside the new stepfamily. By learning about some basic differences, and knowing that stepfamilies experience a normal developmental process that takes time, remarried couples can avoid unnecessary stress as you build your new stepfamily. A lack of this knowledge can swiftly bring your stepfamily to crisis, but by consciously addressing issues and problem-solving from a realistic basis, The Stepfamily Journey can be fulfilling and joyful!
Accepting these basic structural differences is the foundation for creating a joyful and successful stepfamily.
Copyrighted materials. Please attribute to Elizabeth Einstein, MA/LMFT