There always comes a time to say “Goodbye” and after twenty- four years as a mental health therapist much of which focused on stepfamilies, writing my book and many lectures it is time to say goodbye. I have to say that every moment has been a privilege in helping individuals and families.
However, I want to leave you with some thoughts. Stepfamilies have always suffered from a negative view and if you believe what you read or hear, you wouldn’t want to be in a stepfamily! So cover your ears and hummmm when anyone tries to tell you that stepfamilies will likely fail, it simply is not true.
I don’t particularly like statistics, especially in a social field such as this one where it is so open to subjective analysis. However, I thought I would search out some positives.
Here is what little I found:
Canadian statistics report “the question of how to measure stepfamilies is a major concern.” This is because most stepfamilies differ in makeup. I also found “stepfamilies are intricate in nature and the U.S. Government does not specifically collect data on them.”
It is interesting that the 2011 Canadian Census counted stepfamilies for the first time and found that 12.6 per cent of the population is in a stepfamily. So you have company, there are many stepfamilies out there.
According to an article by the American researcher Kristin McCarthy, the success of stepfamilies relies on the children’s bond with both parents inside the home. This of course is what I have been saying throughout.
Also, research from the United Kingdom states that it is stability in the home that matters not the family type. Thus a stable, loving environment for all the children will help the stepfamily succeed. Statistics also show that 80 percent of stepchildren function well on developmental outcomes, including academic success.
It also states that children raised in a stepfamily often leave home sooner than in “ nuclear” families and are more independent. Now we are getting some positive feedback.
We don’t need statistics to confirm what we already know. Sure there are some stepfamilies that are not willing to do the work and we know that love just isn’t enough. “ It is the reason we do the work.” Don’t let those others stepfamilies worry you.
I am so proud of the stepfamilies I have counseled and the ones who read my blogs and my book. They are not of the faint of heart! They know what needs to be done and are willing to be flexible, open and willing to change. They know that being in a stepfamily requires good communication skills so they can manage the bumps in life’s roads. They have learned from the mistakes made in their other marriage(s) and they move forward from that relationship without bitterness. They are understanding, encouraging and loving stepparents. They control their emotions and consider what is reasonable rather than giving up. They accept good parenting advice and act on it.
They are able to problem solve and are open to new ideas. They accept nothing is perfect and continue to forgive and help their families. They reach out to their extended families when they need help. This is only a few of the strengths people in stepfamilies have. Those in stepfamilies are the best!
This is a good time to review the advantages of being in a stepfamily. It is important to remember that there are many.
(Found on page 13 of my book)
Everyone deserves to find a home with a partner who loves them. Everyone deserves a second or third chance.
Parents learn to “ let go” of their children earlier. They have been sharing their children for some time with the other biological partner.
Parents have the opportunity to show their children what a loving relationship looks like.
Some parents have time to enjoy each other while their children are with their other parent.
Stepparents have the honor of getting to know other children, caring for them and being part of their lives.
Children have the opportunity to learn about different personalities first hand. They learn to accept and understand other people’s differences.
Children have lots of support from adults and this helps them build self-esteem and confidence.
Everyone learns that life is not perfect. They learn to manage adversities of life and to be more flexible.
Family members learn the importance of negotiation, communication and they also learn to support each other.
Family members learn that trust takes time to build but can be worth the effort.
Children have so many more people to love them and care for them in the extended family. Grandparents reap the benefit of having more grandchildren to love.
And the list goes on. I am sure you can add many more advantages to this list.
The stepfamilies, I know have done the reading, gone to classes, spoken to other stepfamilies, counseled and learned from their mistakes. They try hard every day to make their stepfamily a success. They are brave, empathetic and kind to each other.
So now, it is time for me to sign off and for me to concentrate on other endeavors. I hope that I have helped many of you, encourage you and given you reason to make your stepfamilies work.
So as I said at the beginning, it has been an honor to work with so many of you. I have enjoyed writing my book and the blogs for my website. I will keep my website open so you can read my blogs whenever you wish. (www.blytheward.com)
I admire all of you more than words can say. Take care of each other and always come from a place of love.
Most of all... it is my wish that you will find Joy in your stepfamily and please please don’t forget to laugh together.
With this I say “goodbye” Oh and… “Happy New Year”
All the best
P.S. If anyone would like one of my books for free please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I only have so many left so first come first served. Be sure to include your name, address and postal code. I am happy to mail it to you.