Friday, August 12, 2011

In Praise Of Stepfamillies

I came across this article today and thought that you might find it interesting. Enjoy !
In the US and the UK, it's estimated that there are more stepfamilies than nuclear families. In other developed countries like Australia and Canada, the figures are not as high but they are on the climb.
Stepparents have bad reputations. Just ask Cinderella and Snow White. Mike and Carol Brady's bunch tried to give blended families a better name, but nevertheless, the word "stepmother" still brings about squirms from kids and stepmoms alike. An elderly couple a few years back told me about their experience bringing two sets of teenagers together back in the 1960s. "We wouldn't do it again," they both agreed. "It never did work and it brought us a lot of pain."
Most everything you read about stepfamilies has to do with evil stepmothers, obnoxious children, responsibility without control, resentful ex-spouses and lack of appreciation. But from my arguably unenviable position of stepmother, I'd like to talk about the better side of stepfamilies. Yes, when they work, they can work even better than "real" families.
Stepfamilies cause us to redefine our expectations of family, and that can be a good thing.Parents are universally disappointed when their grown children don't meet their expectations for phone calls, visits and life choices. Successful stepparents learn to lower their expectations a lot earlier in life, and this can have a positive impact on the emotional growth of their children. It can also have a positive impact on their own happiness.
If you're interested in becoming a better parent, count on your stepkids to tell you how to start. Remember that our biokids are still living by the rules of unconditional love and acceptance. Stepkids aren't. They're more likely to tell you exactly what's wrong with your style because they don't have anything at risk. If you listen to them with the same kind of non-attachment, you might just find they're right about how you could be more effective.
Subsequent marriages are often better than the ones that produced the kids -- you can set a better example. Remember that you and the other bioparent broke up for a reason. Your kids already went through that divorce, and you can be sure they learned something -- and not always something good -- about intimate relationships. When the pressure of a bad marriage is off and we have the energy to be better role models, a subsequent marriage can provide a better mirror for teaching negotiation, forgiveness, generosity and love.
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