Information for Stepparents

A stepfamily faces many challenges. Developing good stepfamily relationships requires a lot of effort. Each family member faces complicated adjustments to the new family situation.

When a stepfamily is formed, the members have no shared family histories or shared ways of doing things, and they may have very different beliefs. Children may feel torn between their biological parent and their stepparent of the same sex. The idea of being true to both of these people can create great anxiety for a child. The way a child deals with this dilemma is often to reject the stepparent. However, sometimes the child rejects the biological parent to feel more a part of the stepfamily.

It's important for the members of the stepfamily to be aware of the trigger points listed below and not be too hard on themselves when things aren't immediately "perfect". Stepfamilies take time to come together successfully, and time means years, not weeks or months.

List of trigger points to guard against as a stepparent:

  • Attempting to create a stepfamily too soon.
  • Disrespect for the absent parent. No child can stand to hear his parents criticized.
  • The "Call me Dad" syndrome — stepparents trying to replace the absent parent.
  • Lack of communication in the family.
  • Imposing new parenting rules and lifestyle on a stepchild too soon.
  • Disagreeing about a parenting structure.
  • Not preparing a child sufficiently for the birth of half-siblings.
  • Not supporting the existing child in the new stepfamily.
  • Ignoring family problems and not making time to sort them out.

Adapted from The Step-parent's Survival Guide: Positive advice for achieving a successful step-family by Hilary Boyd.

Websites for Stepfamilies

National Stepfamily Resource Center
A Christian resource for stepfamilies.
A great support system for stepmothers.

Stepfamily Foundation

Books for Stepfamilies

The Smart Step-Family: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family by Ron Deal

Stepfamily Realities: How to Overcome Difficulties and Have a Happy Family by Margaret Newman

Stepfamilies: Love, Marriage, and Parenting in the First Decade by Dr. James H. Bray & John Kelly

Seven Steps to Bonding with Your Stepchild by Suzen J. Ziegahn, PhD

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Stepparenting by Ericka Lutz


While facing these issues may be difficult, most stepfamilies do work out their problems. Stepfamilies often use family, clergy, support groups, and/or other community-based programs to help with the adjustments.

Synergy Services

Administrative Office

Services are provided on a sliding scale fee.

The Family Conservancy (Formerly Heart of America Family Services)

To make an appointment at any of the local counseling centers, call Central Scheduling at 913-342-1110

Services are provided on a sliding scale fee.