Step Family Success

The blended family unit progresses through a number of stages, over several years. These stages represent getting to know and appreciate each other; negotiating daily routines, rules and expectations; resolving issues; developing blended family traditions and, somewhere along the line, realizing a sense of unity. By the final stage, step parents and step kids feel on par with bio parents and bio kids, and all step family members have a clear role and purpose within their family.  At long last, comfortable step relationships – step parents, step kids, and step siblings – are evident. Nobody feels like an outsider.

How can I get that for my blended family?

It takes time for each person in your blended family to adjust to their new role.  The stages demonstrate that step family dynamics change over time, and they are not linear in occurrence. Your blended family may find itself slogging through the same territory more than once.  With patience, persistence and some helpful strategies, step family members develop ways of relating to each other which help each person feel accepted and supported, and provide a sense of belonging. A common factor in all successful blended families is the strong relationship the adult managing partners hold. When they feel their needs are being met, and a system is in place for negotiating the way forward, the blended family is more stable.

Keys to successful blending

Couples who share feelings without laying blame, who are open to possible solutions which accommodate a variety of blended family needs, and invest time and energy into their relationship are more likely to work through the stages of blending at a faster pace. Setting out household rules and organizational systems to manage their blended family is important, but successful partners also routinely evaluate how effective they are in practice, and make the necessary adjustments.  Successful blended families make use of conflict resolution skills that focus on the problem and not on the person.

What motivates your step parenting

Step parenting is hard work and can sometimes feel pretty unrewarding.  What motivates you to give your best efforts to this challenging task? For some, it is for the sake and the benefit of their couple relationship. For others, it is to be a positive influence in the life of their step kids. Some step parents see it as an opportunity to develop or improve personal traits such as patience, perseverance and grace – traits which grow through times of trial.  Whatever your motivation, your best efforts are what you have to offer your blended family. Giving your true best is a gift of love which can only enhance the life of your blended family, appreciated or not, and whether or not you feel what you have to offer is enough.

Don’t give up. When your plan for building a happy and stable blended family takes into consideration the important relationship you and your partner share, the welfare of your children and their ability to grow into healthy and productive adults, when you are committed to resolving problems and moving forward, your chances of success remain high. Good luck from The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.