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Dr. Wisdom’s Tips on Stepparenting

Family playing with electric race car track

Dr. Diana Weiss-Wisdom is a psychologist who works primarily with blended families. The insight she has gained from working with families and couples over the past several years has come in very handy recently because Dr. Wisdom just got married and now is the stepmother of three teenagers. In a recent article, Wisdom describes her experience adjusting to this new role, and how her professional experience has helped her along the way.

The number of blended families is growing rapidly. Sadly, second marriages have a greater chance of ending in divorce than first marriages do. That’s why Wisdom believes it is so important to learn how to stepparent effectively and successfully—for the success of the children and the marriage. Wisdom admits that when she became a stepparent, it was not always easy. Similar to what happens when you become a parent, becoming a stepparent requires that you put other people’s needs before yours. It can have a significant maturing effect on a person. “It’s really an opportunity for stepparents to work on their own character … you have a better quality of life because you have to rise to the occasion,” Wisdom said.

Wisdom reminds people that although the children are important, the marriage must be a priority. Kids who have already seen one relationship deteriorate really need to have the stability of a loving relationship. Couples who are having problems adjusting to life as a blended family should work on their marriage first. Once they are back on the right track, the children can be brought into family counseling with the parents if necessary. But Wisdom believes it is also essential for children, especially teenagers, to have their own opportunity to work one-on-one with a psychologist or counselor. Children need to know they can express themselves honestly and openly, without fear of hurting either parent. Wisdom recommends that couples take it slow, be patient, and take advantage of books, workshops, and counseling in order to become the best step-parents they can be.

Reference:
Billing, Karen. Local psychologist’s new book offers “wisdom on step-parenting.” Rancho Sante Fe Reveiw. N.p., 28 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2012. http://www.ranchosantafereview.com/2012/11/28/local-psychologist%E2%80%99s-new-book-offers-%E2%80%98wisdom-on-stepparenting%E2%80%99/

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Comments
  • rod p December 10th, 2012 at 3:48 PM #1

    Yes the marriage needs to be A priority but not THE priority. I think that the number one priority needs to be the stability and happiness of thr kids.

  • Colin December 11th, 2012 at 9:56 AM #2

    Man, this is such a hard thing to deal with! My second wife and I were so happy before we got married. Not that we don’t love each other now, but adding her kids and my kids into the mix has been a ticking time bomb. Her kids don’t see me as an authority figure and mine don’t see her that way. She has been bugging me for months to go see a therapist. I guess we really do need to for our own sakes and the kids. Here goes nothing…

  • vanessA December 11th, 2012 at 5:45 PM #3

    As step child and now a step parent the one thing that I have figured out is that you have to know when it is time to take a little step back and let the biological parent do the talking. I always want to jump right in there and be involved because that’s just my way, but there are some times when I have realized that the better thing for me to do it to sit back and let my husband handle it instead. There are just some times when you have to step away from that role because no matter what you say or do you will not be appreciated. Let them come to you and I promise that the relationship will be stronger.

  • elise December 11th, 2012 at 6:58 PM #4

    being married to a man with two teens is not easy.they want to have nothing to do with me and I feel terrible about this.maybe we should have given ourselves some more time before marrying.after all,it is not a good thing to go in for the marriage and then pull in the kids to the therapist’s office.I feel bad about all this now :(

  • H T December 11th, 2012 at 11:27 PM #5

    Hike some kids are readily fine with their stepparents some others can be quite a tough but to crack. They may view you the stepparent as someone who is trying to take their original parent’s place or as someone who is goin to take away their biological parent from them. I think this is what causes the hostility in many cases. If you are able to assure them and show them that you’re not going to do that or even intend to I think that removes a big wall from between you and your step children.

  • Diana Weiss-Wisdom, Ph.D. Author of Wisdom on Stepparenting: How to Succeed Where Others Fail March 19th, 2014 at 9:28 AM #6

    Hi everyone,
    I appreciate all of your comments on the above article about my book. As it is brief and written by a journalist not myself, I’d like to clarify a couple of points.

    I do believe that in order for a stepfamily to thrive, the marriage must be a top priority as do the children. It is not either or but rather different kinds of relationships. Parents are often challenged with how to navigate the at times conflicting needs among their loved ones ~ my book is in part, a guidebook for how to do this well. Similarly, a major emphasis in my book is on stepparents digging deep and bringing their best selves to their family without sacrificing themselves (it’s kind of a toolkit for that end). Stepfamilies and blended families are like a microcosm of countries and nations in their complex competing needs for resources, needs, and territory. Our children go out into the world and model to some degree what they have been taught at home. What do we want to teach them. Step and blended families can model reciprocal understanding, collaboration, peace, and love and by doing so, inspire our children to spread that in the world.
    Please check out my book, Wisdom on Stepparenting: How to Succeed Where Others Fail on amazon and let me know what you think. I’d love to receive any feedback you might have. Thank you for reading this.
    Sincerely,
    Diana Weiss-Wisdom, Ph.D.
    Author of Wisdom on Stepparenting: How to Succeed Where Others Fail.

  • Gbella August 3rd, 2014 at 10:30 AM #7

    I have to agree, marriage should be THEE priority in blended families. Think about it, what is holding the family together? Its not the kids. If the relationship is not the priority, all the odds are against them. Statistically, blended families are more likely to fail than traditional biological parent families. Kids in blended families do take the biggest adjustment of their life when they blend with a new family and it is hardest on them. That should never be over looked because in itself can be a set up for trouble. However, new boundaries need to be set, tested and accepted.I truly agree, blended marriages need more nurturing, more strategies, more attention, more planning and more time to develop into a healthy crew. I don’t think there is a manual or a how-to 12 step for blended families, just plain and simple, marriage needs to be a continuous nurturing process where everyone benefits.

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