Blended Families

Stepfamilies occur when a divorced parent with children remarries to another partner. This other partner may also have children. With this process, the partners are often excited to start their new found happiness together, but sometimes children struggle with the transition. Blended families can become as bonded as a blood-related family, and there are helpful ways to bring about success and happiness for both the parents and the children.

Making Your Blended Family a Success

HelpGuide provides constructive suggestions for blended families who are new to the transition:

Plan Your Blended Family

Too many changes at once can be overwhelming and make the transition off putting. Take your time and give everyone a chance to get used to each other and the idea of the new family.

Bond With Your New Blended Family

As the parent, think about the child(ren)s’ needs. Children typically want to feel safe, secure, loved, valued, heard, and emotionally connected. If children feel like these needs are being met, they may be more open to a relationship with the new parent and sibling(s). 

Help Children Adjust

Children of different ages and genders will react and adjust differently to a newly blended family. Taking this into account can help parents adjust their approach to establish a trusting relationship.

Maintain Marriage Quality

While the focus in the beginning might be on the children, partners in a newly blended family need to keep quality in their marriage because this ultimately benefits the children, also. If kids see a model relationship, they will feel more secure in their new dynamic. 

Help From The Outside

Navigating a blended family is a new experience for everyone, even the parents. With this, sometimes parents don’t have all the answers and needing guidance from an outside party can be extremely helpful for the family’s success. Counseling can help parents voice their opinions and concerns about parenting, and it gives children an opportunity to express their fears and concerns regarding the new situation. Family therapy and family systems therapy are also available ways to support your new blended family through the transition (GoodTherapy).

Helpful Reading

Books are a great tool to help children relate to experiences through characters. Being in a blended family can feel alienating because every experience is different. By using books that are themed with the complexities of stepfamilies, it can help children feel less alone in what they are going through. 

Visit the Read Brightly website for a list of thirteen books that may help your child work through this challenging transition in their life.

Series Navigation

The Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series highlights several early childhood topics to support parents and caregivers who are caring for young children. Use the list below to navigate through each series topic:

Learn more about the series.

Request free printed materials from our Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series.


Picture: A young baby looks up at the camera.
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