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Ask Yourself

* Is living in a Blended Family or a Stepfamily “more than you bargained for?”

* Does step parenting feel like the most challenging and thankless job of all?

* Is the tension and conflict taking its toll on your relationships

* Are you becoming worried about your children and their well-being?

* Are you constantly arguing with your partner about the kids, discipline and parenting in general?

• Is your ex or your partner's ex causing real problems in your blended family and in your relationship

• Are you at the end of your rope and need some answers NOW

* Are you considering entering into a Blended Family or Stepfamily and want to be prepared?

Who is the Family of the 21st Century?

2009-02-02

Step Institute Re-Defining Family Life – Who is the Family of the 21st Century?

For better or worse, we are living in a time when nearly half of all marriages end in separation or divorce. Filled with hope and unbridled optimism, the majority of adults go on to re-couple or remarry and often with children from their previous relationships.

Unfortunately the statistics tell us a very sad but true story. Two thirds of these new unions also break up when children are involved.

The complex nature of life within a newly formed step or blended family lends itself to a very high rate of failure. The issues, feelings and relationships that are built into any step situation are intense and if not handled carefully, have the potential to destroy any chance the family has of finding happiness together. Because the stepfamily is extremely different from a biological family in function, management and roles, we know that applying what we know about biological families to a step situation is as limited and futile as applying the rules of checkers when playing chess. It is an entirely different game.

On a societal level, the family of the 21C has evolved into a myriad of configurations and relationships, with men and women taking on the roles and titles of stepmother and stepfather respectively, in greater numbers than ever before. Very soon, if not already, the majority of families will no longer be intact biological families (one mother and one father) but some variation on a stepfamily with multiple partners or spouses and parents involved in the raising of today’s children.

It has been said that step and blended families may be the new “extended family” of the past and if managed, negotiated and nurtured carefully, can extend the same benefits of love, protection and community to its members, particularly the children. Looking back is not an option; we must embrace the new reality, respect the individuals involved and move forward.

As Jeannette Lofas, Founder and President of The Stepfamily Foundation, Inc. in New York (where I took my training), teaches, “it is not the people in the situation that are the problem but the dynamics of the situation”, along with the issues, the differences, the pervasive myths and the unrealistic expectations everyone enters in with, on top of the lack of information about how to best meet the extraordinary challenges of “Living in Step”.

We are optimistic that with education and support, these brave new families can succeed - Yes, your family can succeed. We believe that the more awareness we can bring to the issue of step and blended families and the more understanding parents and children can acquire about their “not so unique” family situations, the greater chance families will have to function well and create stable, nurturing environments for all of their members.

So as we are still at the beginning of this New Year of 2009, make a commitment to yourselves, that if you are already in a stepfamily or are embarking on one, that you will do anything and everything to make is a success. Read some of the many good books out there on the subject, many of which we have listed on the site in our Resources Section, talk to other people you know in a stepfamily and perhaps get some peer support, and when you need it, get the guidance, support and professional help/coaching/counseling that can be extremely helpful when you are either just starting out or when you are already mired in problems that you can't seem to fix on your own.

I challenge you to inform yourself, recognize that you are living in the new family of the 21st century. And remember, as much as it requires a new set of skills and new information, if you have decided this is for you and your family, then commit to doing whatever it takes to create a nurturing environment for everyone in your circle.

Best of Luck!!

 

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