Parenting in stepfamilies presents a challenge for stepparents and biological parents alike. This is because blended families don’t just bring stepparents and stepchildren together, they change the dynamics of the entire family.
When couples who have dissolved their stepfamilies are later questioned about their reasons for divorce, most identify the primary problem that derailed their marriage as being relationship conflicts with stepchildren. (Liebowitz, 1983) As Dr. Mary Ann Artlip, James Artlip & Dr. Earl Saltzman state, “First-marriage couples often stay together ‘for the sake of the children.’ In blended families, the opposite is true; the children are usually the couple’s most divisive force.” (1993, p. 77)
How parenting in stepfamilies is different from parenting alone or in biological families
- Bringing stepchildren together creates new behavioral issues that didn’t exist before.
- Loyalty issues will be front and center, and kids will be on the lookout for any hint of favoritism.
- You’re tasked with maintaining discipline and consistency not just between stepparent and parent, but usually across two households.
- It’s harder to treat everyone equally when some kids live at home and others don’t. There’s a tendency to splurge on visiting kids while holding those permanent fixtures of the household to a different standard.
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