Creating a successful stepfamily


One-third of American children live in a step-family yet the relationship between stepfathers and stepchildren has not been explored by researchers. New research from Brigham Young University aims to fill the gap.

The keys to success

Three factors stand out among successful stepfamilies:
- The couple keeps arguments, not disagreements, to a minimum
- Moms help children feel comfortable sharing their frustrations
- The stepfather and mom make a plan for how to parent

Let’s talk about the bumpiness

“Family roles can be negotiated and there is going to be some bumpiness,” explained Shafer, who teaches and researches in BYU’s School of Social Work. “The notion that couples should put the couple first and everything else will fall into place is false.”

Teens in the survey reported frustrations when the stepdad took on too much responsibility or rocked the boat with their regular routines. “Moms need to let their children know that it’s ok to talk if they have a problem with their stepfather because everybody is still trying to figure out this new family dynamic,” Shafer continued.

What to avoid

Most couples will make two common mistakes. The first is acting like nothing major has happened, stepfather is merely a replacement. The second is for mom to be the sole parent, with stepdad on the sidelines. In both cases, the children are not involved. It appears their participation is key for success. “If you have teenagers, they should be a pretty active participant in discussions of what the family is going to look like and how the family is going to function,” advised Shafer.

Safe, open communication is key

“It really is the interpersonal dynamic that predicts family closeness,” Shafer said. “You can build these bonds in spite of financial challenges.”

Source: Social Work, MedicalNewsToday


This information is solely for informational and educational purposes only. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, family planning, child psychology, marriage counseling and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care or mental health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of or the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, application of medication or any other action involving the care of yourself or any family members which results from reading this site. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Additional information contained in our Legal Statement

What does your weekly dinner look like?
The whole family dines together at home
The whole family dines together at a restaurant
Parents and children eat separately
Whoever is around eats together
Every family member for themselves!
Total votes: 5755