According to Focus on the Family’s “Thriving as a Stepdad” Program today on Moody Radio, as many as one-third of America’s population consists of blended families in some way. And, in the future, that number is expected to increase to 50 percent. To put it more in perspective, “100 million Americans have a step relationship,” according to Ron Deal, Focus on the Family’s author and counseling guest today, and Ashton Kutcher is but one famous stepdad counted among that number.
With so many stepfamilies in existence, it becomes even more important to learn how to successfully navigate the difficult road of being a stepfather or mother. Focus on the Family wants to help stepfathers and stepmothers in their efforts to make their blended family be all that it can be. So to that end, the program today highlights some problems stepparents experience and the actions they can take to become the hero in the family rather than the bad guy in the home.
Focus uses recommendations from their guest Ron Deal, author of The Smart Stepdad to help elighten radio and online listeners about the pitfalls of stepparenting and the ways to overcome them on their radio program this week.
Deal says that although negative stereotypes exist of the “wicked stepmother” or the “abusive stepdad,” they generally aren’t the norm. He says that well-meaning stepparents dominate the stepfamily dynamics in America, but that these people are often confused about how to be the best stepparent they can in difficult situations.
And that’s no wonder, since as Focus host Julie Slattery points out “Family and marriage is hard enough as it is, just when you have a nuclear family of a mon and dad, committed and married for life and raising their kids.” But when you add a step relationship, or more than one to the mix, it can seem overwhelming and impossible to successfully naviagate.
But Ron Deal says there is hope for the stepfamily dynamic, they just have to learn how to deal with competing attachments and learn how to become their own family, as well as the “hero” or blessing in the family to their stepchildren. They have to learn that familyness (creating a family unit) is naturally going to be harder than coupleness (coming together as a couple and getting married). But the payoff is worth it.
A stepfather who lives with his wife and his stepson, but only gets to see his own two children every other weekend can have competing attachments. He may grapple with the guilt of enjoying and spending time with his stepson, when he knows his own son is lacking his attention during the week.
Another roadblock for stepparenting, according to Focus on the Family’s guest Ron Deal, can come with imposed limitations of that role. For example, you may desire to be a hero to your stepchild, assuming the role of father. But if the child has a living father who is active in his life, your role in that regard is limited, especially if the child resents your efforts — or the child’s father sabotages them. Then you have to find another way to be a hero or blessing to the child in that situation.
Also, making one mistake in the parenting effort with a stepchild can have greater negative consequences than making a mistake with your own child. “You get automatic grace when you make a mistake” as a biolgoical parent, according to Deal, but when a child is dealing with a stepparent the same isn’t true. They don’t automatically forgive mistakes a stepparent makes, as they would with their own parent.
Georgian’s can find Ron Deal’s The Smart Stepdad at Family Christian Bookstores or online at Smart Stepfamilies, Christianbook.com or Amazon.com. Book prices range from $10.49 to $13.99, not including shipping and handling.