In her book, “Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships: What Works and What Doesn’t,” Patricia Papernow, EdD, discusses the five common challenges that a stepfamily can face and offers some straightforward guidance to help address them.
A child can easily get trapped in the war and conflict of two parents getting a divorce. Some thoughts of children caught between parental conflicts could be “I need to fix the problem,” or “I’m the reason they are fighting.” Neither of which are true from an adult perspective but children experience divorce much different than adults. The best gift you can give your child when divorcing their parent is to do so respectfully and peacefully in the child’s presence.
From the onset, a stepfamily has several moving parts that a first family doesn’t encounter. For the children in a stepfamily, it is an overwhelming amount of change and can feel destabilizing. Studies have shown that that the most disrupting factor for children is not divorce, but exposure to parental … Read More
Every family has it’s own unique culture. Family cultures include a set of belief systems that include aspects such as: how to spend money, how to spend time, what acceptable behaviors are and family traditions and rituals. When a stepfamily unites, they face the challenge of merging these cultures (Papernow, … Read More
Conflict in marriage is what brings many couples into counseling. With two unique individuals coming together, values, opinions, and personality traits are bound to collide. According to John Gottman, a leading research scientist on marriage and family, all marital conflicts fall into one of two categories: either they can be … Read More
In newly formed stepfamilies, the standard advice that I give to the couple is for the parent to take the lead with discipline. There is a great deal of research supporting this stance. The most helpful role for step parents during the early years of stepfamily formation is to nurture … Read More