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Stepfamily problems

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Updated: 1/14/2003 11:29 am
New studies have shown that it actually may be better for children if a divorced parent doesn't remarry until the children are grown. However, today in the U-S, one in three Americans is a stepparent, stepchild, or in some way a member of a stepfamily. Many children who may enjoy the company of their divorced mother's boyfriend may become suspicious, jealous, or even hostile when they realize the person is to be their stepfather. In some cases, conflicts between new siblings or between children and stepparents can undermine the marriage. Stepparents may have a different style and philosophy about how their new spouse's children should be raised, and there may be a conflict when the stepparent disciplines the children. A new parent may create anxiety in children over divided allegiance to their biological parents. Keep in mind also that many children of divorce maintain a fantasy that their biological parents will get back together, and remarriage destroys that fantasy. Each parent should discipline his or her own children, while supporting whatever the other parent decides to do, presenting a united front. There may be problems among new stepsiblings, so house rules, assignments of chores, and privileges should be fair and spelled out, so there aren't any misunderstandings or unnecessary resentments. Because there are so many areas of potential conflict, consider seeing a counselor with both families before you get married to help all parties adjust.

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