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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
Along with the usual difficulties associated with raising children, stepparenting can present its own unique problems. The stepparent may resent the stepchild from a spouse's previous marriage. If stepparents have their own children, they may form sides, taking their own child's side against the new spouse and their new stepchildren. Resentment can manifest itself in the stepchildren when they see the stepparent as the culprit who breaks up their natural family. They may feel loyalty toward the natural parent and be uncooperative and unwilling to adjust to the new family structure. The stepchild may perceive that the stepparent is taking away the attention that the natural parent previously gave to the child. Other problems can occur when there is a change in the type of parenting behavior. Actions that were O.K. before are no longer acceptable, or old rules are dropped, leaving the child confused and angry. When there are children from both parents who are unrelated, except through the new marriage, and they share the same home, boundaries must be established. A sense of fairness is essential. If good communication and parenting skills are not established, resentfulness, anger, and depression can manifest itself in unacceptable behavior such as abusing alcohol and drugs, poor conduct, and poor grades. Children who have not adjusted well to the new family may have low self-esteem. Therapy and counseling can be beneficial in assisting the child through a difficult time and can help to facilitate the changes necessary for healthy and mature growth. For more information on dealing with stepfamilies, contact a counseling professional.

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