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Extension > Family > Parents Forever™ > For families > Resources for families > Being Successful with Coparenting > Suggestions for Stepfamilies

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Being Successful with Coparenting

Mixed family playing games together

Suggestions for Stepfamilies

Jo Musich, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency

Revised October 2009; reviewed January 2012.

All families have difficulties. Children playing one parent against another, money issues, and parents finding time to be alone are just some of the challenges parents encounter. Stepfamilies are no different. It takes up to three years for a combined family to start working like a family. Practice patience!

For parents, it's critically important that you come to terms with your past. New partners deserve someone who has explored the good and bad of a previous marriage. The emotional well-being of each person is important for a healthy, new marriage. So take stock of your emotional health and do the work that is required to make you a relationship asset.

Each parent should strive to have good communication with the children’s other parent. That lays a foundation that meets the needs of the children as you parent apart. Communicate with ex-partners and understand that children living in two families need respectful and caring relationships in stepfamilies and, whenever possible, with birth parents.

Suggestions for Stepparents

Here are some things stepparents can do to ease the stepfamily transition process.


Cartwright, C. (2010). An exploratory investigation of parenting practices in stepfamilies. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 39(1), 57-64.

Hetherington, E. M. (Ed.). (2014). Coping with divorce, single parenting, and remarriage: A risk and resiliency perspective. Psychology Press.

Related resources

Where Do Stepfamilies Fit into the Picture? (PDF) — Creating a new, or blended family, is a process that goes through many stages. To make sure that unrealistic expectations don’t create additional stress, it's important to set some basic guidelines for stepfamilies. Part of the Parents Forever™ Parent Handbook.

How Age Affects Children’s Adjustment to Stepfamilies —Your children’s ages and stages of development may affect their reaction to a new stepfamily. Understanding what your children are experiencing may help you better handle the tensions that often accompany the transition process.

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