Typical Stages of Stepfamily Development
What stage is your stepfamily in right now? As you read through these descriptions, don't worry if it seems you are in more than one stage at a time. It's normal to seemingly move forward two steps and back one.
Fantasy or Illusion. At this stage, romance is in the air and you're thinking this is "one big happy family." You might be dreaming of a family where everyone instantly loves one another. You'll be the perfect stepparent, loved by all - - and definitely a better parent than the stepkids' parent.
Confusion. Something is wrong. Roles are unclear, feelings are suppressed and there is the feelings that this new family isn't working out as they expected. A fear of failure is in the air and there is an increasing realization that there was insufficient preparation for this new family. Loyalty conflicts between this new family and the former family abound.
Crazy Time. This is a difficult period where chaos reigns. Fights and arguments happen, and resentments come out. Family divisions happen here - - your mate and his/her kids vs. you and your kids. This is the make-or-break time. Stepfamilies either give up and separate or turn everything around by seeking help, communicating, rebuilding and continuing to work together. This stage is a turning point - - don't give up.
Stability. Family members start to connect and small signs of stabilization emerge. There are still days you may wonder what you're doing here, but you and your spouse are working on the challenges. Roles are becoming more clear and the family is starting to build new traditions and set goals.
Commitment or Acceptance. This is the time when positive feelings begin to replace negative ones. It might be the time when you'll say, "this is as good as it gets." When you've made the decision to succeed, you begin to reap the rewards.
Remember that it takes time to form a healthy stepfamily. Commit, strengthen, preserve and enjoy your new family.