On the page below you will find some general information about being in a STEP FAMILY.
At the Center, we have been helping step parents be more successful since we opened our doors in 1994.
Call us (925-855-1745)
to find out about our monthly STEP FAMILY SUPPORT GROUP / STEP MOM GROUP.
FYI: Cliff Crain & Liz Hannigan have been step parents since 1986 and have had to "walk-the-walk" by
raising their own step children while having to navigate the mine-field of dealing with difficult ex-spouses. Yes, it can
By Cliff Crain, MFT
It is not unusual for parents to come into the Center seeking help with their step family.
They are often angry, frustrated, confused, and over-whelmed by the dynamics of being part of a step family. Below is some
information that might prove helpful if you are in a step family, or considering becoming part of a step family:
- The older the step child is, the more difficult it is,
generally, for the child to adjust to a new step family situation.
- Studies are indicating that many bright, loving parents do serious long- term damage
to their children by maintaining unresolved tension between themselves and the other biological parent.
- In a step family, the biological
parent needs to be the disciplinarian for at least two years.
- The step parent’s job is to build a close, safe, trusting relationship with each
very real issue that is often ignored by adults who are creating a new step family, is that the relationship between biological-parent
and child has had longer time to grow than the relationship between the new adult couple.
- Step children benefit from having
a clear schedule. This includes knowing when they will be spending time with the other parent.
- Step children benefit from
having their own place (room or part of a room) in the step family home.
- Consistency is VERY IMPORTANT to the well-being
of the step children.
- Step children will often tell parents what they want to hear, rather than the truth. It is the parents task
to make telling the truth safe for the children.
- When children from various marriages meet in one step-family, it often causes the children
confusion about the role they have. Their place in the birth-order is disrupted (e.g., they may no longer be the youngest
step parent role is more difficult, in many ways, than a parent role: that is, the step parent may have to ask the biological
parent to assist in doing the discipline and may feel un-appreciated by the step children.
For more information about step families, or to explore the specifics of your situation,
call us at the Center (925-855-1745).
For children who have parents who
are going through a divorce or have
#1 The RIGHT
to be treated as an important person, and not a
pawn or possession.
#2 The RIGHT to love as many people as I want
step-parents, relatives, step-siblings) without guilt and/or
to feel “disloyal”. – for
the more love I give, the more I receive.
The RIGHT to receive love, care, discipline and protection from
parents (and not be ‘turned against’ either of my parents).
#4 The RIGHT to not to blame either parent.
#5 The RIGHT not to be asked to choose sides or have to pick
I want to live.
#6 The RIGHT to express
all of my feelings, including anger,
sadness and fear.
#7 The RIGHT to remain a child without being asked
on parental responsibilities, or being a confidant to a parent.
#8 The RIGHT to the most adequate level of economic
support that can be provided by both of my parents. (This
includes having my parents make wise decisions and not
waste an excessive amount of family funds on court battles.)
#9 The RIGHT to not participate in the painful games some
parents play to hurt each other, such as being used as a “spy
for one of my parents, or being a messenger for my parents.
#10 The RIGHT to not be put in the middle and/or hearing one
parent demeaning, ridiculing, or invalidating the other.
Looking at the list above, do YOUR CHILDREN experience
these rights? How can you help them?
Simply click on any
of the file descriptions below to have that file downloaded onto your computer.
Children need security and love even more
when they become part of a STEP-FAMILY.
Going Between My Two Homes
A CHILD'S FOURTEEN POINT WISH-LIST
1. Be polite during the exchange:
do not argue or fight ! It hurts me inside when I feel your anger or tension. Please find a way to stay calm.
2. Have me ready to go at the time designated.
3. If you are coming to get me, pick me up on time so I don’t sit around waiting and worrying. If you may run
late, let my other parent know in advance or as soon as you can.
4. Work out
changes in schedule between the two of you. Don’t put me in the middle.
5. Set up a routine that usually occurs before I leave your home. Remind me at least 20 minutes before the exchange to pack
items I may want to take.
6. Don’t make me carry a suitcase of things
I could care a less about such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, underwear, etc. These things should already be in both of my homes
7. If you know what my other parent may be doing with me, talk
to me about it in advance to get me prepared (if you can do this in a positive way).
8. If I am excited and run out the door to take off with my other parent, don’t call me back to give you a hug or kiss.
9. Don’t tell me you will miss me. Just tell me that you love
10. Don’t tell me to give something to my other parent or to
deliver a message. I feel very burdened if you involve me in money matters.
11. Respect me enough to walk up to the door when you come to get me, don’t just pull up and honk.
12. If I want to allow my other parent to see my room or something I am doing, allow me to let
them in (if you can do this without creating tension).
13. Do talk
about any homework I may have or medication
I need. Do not leave this up to me because I am child and I have a hard
time keeping up with these things…
or I may not want to. I need your help.
14. Don’t exchange me at a parking lot or at a police station. Exchange me at my homes, school, daycare, or at extracurricular
WHAT IS YOUR STEP PARENTING STYLE?
Here are three common parenting styles:
#1 Are you a DRILL SERGEANT?
is, are you the type of stepparent that expects your step children to jump when you tell them to jump, and obey your rules
without question? This approach, although common, rarely builds a close-loving relationship between family members. It might
get your step children to behave out of fear, but it does not help them learn to be self-responsible.
#2 Is your
style more like being HELICOPTER PILOT ?
That is, are you constantly running around trying to
solve problems for your step children and make sure they are always happy? This leads to parent overwhelm, and does not help
children learn personal responsibility.
Or is your style of step parenting more like...
the LOVING CONSULTANT?
That is, do you lovingly and calmly help your step children make their
own decisions. with this approach, you help them learn about life by having them make decisions, with your encouragement,
and then they learn from the consequences of their choices. This type of parenting is to be encouraged. See Jim Fay's PARENTING
WITH LOVE & LOGIC (http://www.loveandlogic.com ) for more help with this style of parenting.
RETURN TO HOMEPAGE
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199 East Linda Mesa, Suite # 4
CA 94526 (925) 855-1745
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