Stepfamily Consultation and Counselling
Canada’s 2011 census counted stepfamilies for the first time, and found that this family form is becoming increasingly common while ‘Mom, Dad and the kids’ households are decreasing in numbers over time. With most stepfamilies now being created post parental separation (rather than from the death of a spouse), this trend is expected to continue.
How I Help
Some aspects are the same across all family structures and some aspects are different. Learning to know which is which is part of learning to be a strong stepfamily.
I work with children and adults to help articulate the harder things to say and to help the adults create the stepfamily environment everyone can be proud of.
On Building Strong Stepfamilies
While few people may plan to be in a second-marriage family, we know stepfamilies can provide loving, nurturing environments. Supporting the development of stepfamily relationships can sometimes take some conscious thought as the relationship patterns are not the same as in the classic first marriage family.
“I don’t have to listen to you, you are not my Dad!”
“I’m starting to feel like the wicked stepmother.”
“ I can’t please my spouse and I can’t please my kids – I just can’t win.”
These kinds of comments show us that something needs to shift.
Having spent many years studying stepfamilies, providing stepfamily support workshops and groups, as well a writing for the public and professionals, it is clear to me that while stepfamilies are families too, they often need some coaching to steer clear of classic first-marriage family assumptions and to build the family that responds to the needs of the children and adults who are actually in the family.