According to the Stepfamily Association of America (SAA), "by the year 2010 stepfamilies are projected be the predominant family form in the U.S."

According to the 2001 General Social Survey, Canada had 503,100 step families in 2001. This represents almost 12% of all Canadian couples with children in 2001, compared to 10% in 1995.

The Stepfamily Association of South Australia reports that stepfamilies are in fact the fastest growing family group in Australia. It has been estimated that one in every four families in Australia is a stepfamily.

The stepfamily experience is common across Europe (19 countries) and becoming more so as younger generations experience higher rates of union dissolution and repartnering during childbearing years (Prskawitz et al, 2003).

According to the BBC.co.uk more than 1 in 10 families in the UK are now stepfamilies. NetDoctor.co.uk reports that 18 million people (total pop. estimated to be approx 60 M) in the UK are part of a stepfamily in some way.

Let’s look at a few current US stats:

  • About 75% of divorced people eventually remarry.
  • About 43% of all marriages are remarriages for at least one of the adults.
  • About 65% of remarriages involve children from the prior marriage and form stepfamilies.
  • About 2/3rds of all women, and 37% of all children, are likely to spend some time in a stepfamily, using the more liberal definition that includes cohabiting adult couples.

Would you be surprised if I told you…

  • One of three Americans is now a stepparent, a stepchild, a stepsibling, or some other member of a stepfamily
  • More than half of Americans today have been, are now or will eventually be in one or more step situations during their lives

You became a stepfamily because one of you made a decision based on the belief that you could "do this" and that "this will be worth it to be with my Honey!" Those are powerful reasons that deserve your time, attention and energy.

The imperative in front of you is to create a family structure that is a safe and loving place for everyone to grow and be their best self; model respectful, thoughtful, value-driven choices and behavior; and live your best and most passionate life.

Across the pond and around the world stepfamilies are the most challenging family constellation…for stepparents and for stepchildren!

Here are my Top 15 Tips for Enlightened Stepfamilies:

1. Don’t try to fit a preconceived role. Be yourself.

2. Accept that stepfamily members don’t have to love each other, especially right away. You all must behave respectfully toward each other.

3. Parent with the *End* in mind. Value-driven parenting will help you stay mindful of EVERYBODY’S legitimate needs and avoid power struggles.

4. Develop cooperative and respectful relationships. Look for the good in every family member; offer frequent positive feedback; and respect everyone’s need for space and privacy.

5. Define household rules and rituals.

6. Establish routines and traditions that bring a sense of family.

7. Hold family meetings on a regular basis. Encourage children (even very young children) to actively participate in planning activities, getting the "chores" done and creative problem solving/decision-making.

8. Be clear and negotiate for your needs.

9. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

10. Don’t take things personally.

11. Maintain your "adult" perspective; a positive attitude remembering that all things are possible; and maintain your sense of humor.

12. Set aside special time each week for your partner and yourself.

13. Take care of yourself. Participate in your own activities and hobbies. The better you feel the easier it is to accept and love others.

14. Understand that partners will talk with ex spouses to coordinate children’s needs.

15. Do your best to maintain a courteous relationship with the ex spouse for the well-being of the children.

To you stepfamily success!

Remember, only YOU can make it happen!

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