Thursday, January 15, 2009

Raising a stepchild

Whilst this isn't strictly orientated towards babies - it is a parenting issue none-the-less.

By Raising Children Network

Around a third of Australians getting married have children from previous marriages. Step-parents may be sorting out problems from old relationships and dealing with issues with their own children, as well as coming to terms with their new children and with the many myths about blended families. Read about one stepfamily and about the challenges facing step-parents around the country.

At a glance

  • 31% of men getting married have kids from a previous marriage; for women it's 33%.
  • For one third of couples in a stepfamily, the marriage is not their first.
  • Around one third of stepfamily couples are in a de facto relationship.

The challenges

Myths about stepfamilies

Of all parent and family types, none have more stereotypes or myths associated with them than step-parents and stepfamilies. Just think of the sugar-coated bliss of The Brady Bunch or the wicked step mother in Cinderella. Other stepfamily myths include:

  1. A stepfamily is created instantly.
  2. Stepfamilies can function like biological families.
  3. All stepfamily members will, given time, love one another.
  4. Relating to stepchildren is the same as relating to biological children.
  5. All of the children in a stepfamily will automatically get on together.
  6. Part-time stepfamilies where children 'visit' have it easier than full-time stepfamilies where children 'live in'.
  7. The stepfamily is headed by a wicked stepmother or cruel stepfather.
  8. Stepfamilies formed after the death of a partner have fewer problems than those formed after divorce or separation.
  9. If stepchildren are treated kindly by their step-parent they will always respond well.
  10. The couple can love one another so much that problems creating a stepfamily will be easily overcome.

© From Gerrard and Howden (1998). Making Stepfamilies Work: A course for couples – Leaders Manual, Stepfamily Assoc. of Vic., p36.

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