September 16th is National Stepfamily Day, founded by Christy Tusing-Borgeld in 1997. Some people prefer the term “blended family” or “bonus family” – however you spell it there are some unique challenges that come with a complex family…
- Discipline can be difficult with his, hers and ours
- Sometimes the other bio parent is jealous of the new step parent and makes it very difficult for everyone
- Kids who travel back and forth between two homes have unique challenges, especially related to school and stress between their bio parents
- Keeping everything “fair” amongst the kids is a challenge for parents
- Marriage in a stepfamily or blended family has extra stress from day one: these couples don’t get any time to just be a couple for a few years – they are instant parents and probably don’t get to sleep in on Saturdays
- Everyone, kids and adults, have “competing attachments” when it comes to emotional situations and somedays are quite a struggle
- There are “insider” and “outsider” dynamics at play that often cause hurt feelings or confusion between different members of the family
We recommend that every step parent find another person to talk to besides their spouse because often the core struggles are rooted in how each adult is interacting with the children. Here are some ideas for all stepparents:
- Find a counselor to talk to who specializes in complex family
- Seek out another step parent who may be 5 years down the road ahead of you
- Explore podcasts, books, trainings and resources to expand your knowledge
- Protect your marriage by having a regularly scheduled date night and DON’T talk about the kids
- Take a trip once a year without the kids and enjoy your marriage
- Consider finding a step couples small group at your church or start one! Walking with others in the same type family not only provides help and support but you will be surprised how much others can also learn from YOU. Step couples are always better together.
Whatever you do, don’t go at it alone – God didn’t intent us to isolate but to gather together for encouragement and support.
Join us October 24th for The Stepmom Connection Virtual Conference!!
Tammy Daughtry, MMFT –Author and Founder of CoParentingInternational.com and TheStepmomConnection.com. She and her husband live in Nashville and have a blended family of four!