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Stepfamilies are very prominent in this day and age. Some experts have noted that half of all Americans have been or will be involved in a stepfamily matrix at some point in their life. Many couples do not know where to begin when it comes to blending two families together. If you are headed in this direction, some research is in order. The following article offers 10 tips for building a better stepfamily.

1. Communication. Communication is very important for the couple that is bringing the two families together and also for the children involved. Everyone should be encouraged to speak about his/her feelings in a positive way.

2. Family meetings. This goes right along with communication. Holding a family meeting once a week is a good way for everyone to discuss current events, school, or any issues that might need to be ironed out.

3. Family time. It is important for everyone to spend time together as a family. This will encourage new relationships to develop and provide for group interaction. Some examples of family time might be a family bike ride, or a family game night where you play board games at home.

4. Couple time. Every couple needs to have their special time together. Going out on a “date” can bring closeness back into the relationship—it helps to strengthen the bond. If money doesn’t allow for an extravagant night out, even a walk through the park together can do wonders.

5. Individual time. Time to yourself is also important. In our busy world we often forget to ‘take care of ourselves’. Work on a special hobby, read a book, or take a class. Try to spend a few minutes on yourself each day.

6. Don’t force a relationship with the stepchild(ren). Any relationship takes time to develop. A relationship with a stepchild should happen naturally so that it isn’t forced. Take your time. It may take several years to genuinely get to know and feel comfortable with one another.

7. Build new family traditions/rituals. Most families have certain traditions and rituals. Holidays are an excellent example of this. Perhaps one family opens their gifts on Christmas Eve, or decorates the Christmas tree in a special way. When two families come together it is an opportune time to combine the traditions of each family, as well as establish traditions for the ‘new’ family.

8. Be patient. The blending of two families together can be hard work. Having patience will help make the transition much smoother.

9. Support relationships with biological parents. In many stepfamily situations, there is interaction between children and their biological parent that is outside of the stepfamily. By supporting the child’s relationship with that biological parent, it will contribute to the healthy development of the stepfamily.

10. Lower your expectations. Often we have fairy-tale expectations in regard to the blending of two families. By maintaining realistic expectations and pacing the relationship that is developing with the non-biological children involved, it will make the transition much smoother.

Now that you have some tips for building a better stepfamily, don’t stop here! Keep your eyes open for any articles or books that you might see on stepfamily issues. A visit to the local bookstore or library will also provide you with a plethora of information on stepfamilies. Good luck!