Blended families: True or false?
What's the secret to a happy, healthy blended family? There's no magic formula. But working together, being patient and putting kids first can help everyone weather a tough transition. Put your co-parenting or stepparenting skills to the test with this short—and informative—quiz.
True or false: Younger kids tend to have a harder time than older kids adjusting to life in a blended family.
False. Children under 10 tend to be accepting of new family members, but adolescents ages 10 to 14 can have a harder time. Kids this age are in the middle of forming their own identities and might resist bonding with a new family. Things tend to be smoother with adolescents 15 and older, who are more independent overall.
True or false: Stepparents should start out acting like full parents to stepchildren.
False. Stepparents should focus on building, warm, friendly relationships with new stepkids. Think camp counselor, not disciplinarian. Let your spouse take the lead when behavior issues come up. As you grow closer to your stepchild, you and your spouse can discuss getting more involved with parenting responsibilities.
True or false: Consistent routines, rules and discipline across households can help kids adapt.
True. Consistency is comforting for kids, especially during time of change. Parents should work together to make decisions—and stick with them. You could even draw up a parenting plan to spell out exactly how you'll manage things like schedules, technology use, chores and discipline. That way, everyone is on the same page.
True or false: You should still spend time alone with your child.
True. Spending quality time as a group helps new family members bond. But connecting with kids one-on-one can give them the extra attention and support they need during a transitional time. Try planning playtime in the park, making a meal together or even running errands—just the two of you.
True or false: If a blended family doesn't bond right away, they're in trouble.
False. Most blended families form rich, rewarding relationships over time. But it can take a couple of years for everyone to find their groove—and that's perfectly normal. The best thing that parents and stepparents can do is give kids room to adjust and get to know new family members at their own pace.
Being a parent or stepparent means you never stop learning. Find more smart advice for raising happy, healthy kids in the Children and Parenting health topic center.
- American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. "Stepfamily Problems." https://www.aacap.org//aacap/fffprint/article_print.aspx?dn=Stepfamily-Problems-027.
- American Psychological Association. "Making Stepfamilies Work." https://www.apa.org/topics/families/stepfamily.
- Healthychildren.org (American Academy of Pediatrics). "Adjusting to Divorce." https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/types-of-families/Pages/Adjusting-to-Divorce.aspx.
- Healthychildren.org (American Academy of Pediatrics). "Becoming a Stepfamily." https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/types-of-families/Pages/Becoming-a-Stepfamily.aspx.
- Healthychildren.org (American Academy of Pediatrics). "How to Support Children After Their Parents Separate or Divorce." https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/How-to-Support-Children-after-Parents-Separate-or-Divorce.aspx.
- National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. "The Family Mash-up: 6 Tips for Fathering a Blended Family." https://www.fatherhood.gov/dadtalk-blog/family-mash-6-tips-fathering-blended-family.
- National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. "Parenting Apart: Communication Skills." https://www.fatherhood.gov/sites/default/files/resource_files/webinar/additionalfiles/parenting_apart_communication_skills_508.pdf.